Should CNN cede its trademark as the Most Trusted Name in News?
Despite poor ratings, the cable news network that Ted Turner founded in 1980 has long prided itself on journalistic integrity. But media insiders say CNN’s continued ties to lobbyists and special-interest consultants – whom it bills as political analysts – now threaten its sterling reputation. And one source says the network’s parent company, Time Warner, is paying close attention to the matter.
Two names that repeatedly come up are Hilary Rosen, a former recording-industry lobbyist who was hired to be a D.C. navigator for public relations consulting firm The Brunswick Group, and Alex Castellanos, a founder of public-affairs PR firm Purple Strategies. As political blogger Greg Sargent reported in The Plumline Monday, BP has retained the services of Rosen, a Democrat, who has farmed out some of the work to her fellow CNN talking head Castellanos, a Republican.
At the beginning of the month, Huffington Post announced that Rosen would no longer be its Washington editor-at-large because of her new consulting role with BP. But CNN apparently doesn’t see the need to go that far. A CNN insider points out the network hasn’t used Rosen or Castellanos on the air recently because coverage has been dominated by the BP oil spill. But a statement to this column by CNN spokeswoman Edie Emery indicates that the two PR rainmakers are still affiliated with the network. “Both Alex and Hilary are political contributors used to comment on political issues,” said Emery. “They are not being used to discuss the oil-disaster story.”