Critics Worry about Line Blurring between Journalism, Politics

Article excerpt

With another politician sliding into a TV job, some people are worried about the crumbling barriers between politics and journalism.

"I don't think it's a good trend," said Edward Fouhy, a former ABC and CBS executive who heads the Pew Center for Civic Journalism. "The person at home doesn't know whether a person he or she sees on the screen is a journalist or whether it's someone pushing a point of view."

CBS's announcement Wednesday that it was hiring U.S. Rep. Susan Molinari to be host of a Saturday morning news program is the latest example of a politician going over to television. Another CBS hire, former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, delivers his first network report in a few weeks. Former Clinton adviser George Stephanopolous is working for ABC. Pat Buchanan's on-again, off-again television career is on again at CNN. Some television executives say critics of such career switches are naive, not giving the viewer credit for being savvy. "It's not as if we're pulling a fast one on anybody," CBS News President Andrew Heyward said. Molinari's "background and her beliefs are out there for anybody to see," he said. "I think the real issue is her relationship with the viewers." Cross-pollination between politics and the media is nothing new; ABC executive Dick Wald noted that Winston Churchill covered wars for English newspapers. Diane Sawyer drew flak two decades ago when she jumped from the Nixon White House to television. The increased importance of getting their message across on television has created a generation of politicians who have cultivated the skills TV requires, Fouhy said. …