Lobbyists’ Spat over News They Wrote

by Mike Wendy on April 16, 2014

Last week, ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity won a prestigious White House Correspondents’ Association award for their reporting on black lung disease in miners.  This week, CPI alone won the Pulitzer prize for that work, too.  What about ABC?  Well, as Politico reports this morning, the network’s pretty upset about this, with ABC news honcho, Jeffrey Schneider, exclaiming that CPI “showed a stunning lack of integrity and misled the Pulitzer board with its submission, which diminished our work to the point of non-existence.”

For its part, CPI’s Executive Director, Bill Buzenberg, responded:

…The 25,000 words that we submitted to the Pulitzer Board were written by Chris Hamby. This was our report from our incredible reporter who spent a year doing this. He knows it forwards and backwards. ABC would be completely lost without the work that he did.

We had a partnership with ABC. ABC does fantastic television. I love the fact that they took our work and put it on television. What they didn’t do was write this report or do this investigation. For a year I’ve watched Hamby sit at a desk stacked with thousands and thousands of documents. That’s how the investigation was conducted.

ABC News contributed to the impact that the report had. They were a great megaphone, and it clearly helped with the impact. But ABC would not have a television report without the work that Chris Hamby did over the course of the year.

As I have written about previously, foundation-driven CPI is really no better than a lobbying outfit dressed up as a news organization; and ABC – its long-time partner – a launder of sorts, broadly disseminating the collected “truths,” and in doing so, giving them the patina of impartiality.

In one of the spat letters going to CPI, ABC news exec of “Editorial Quality,” Kerry Smith, tellingly laments:

ABC NEWS and CPI have for decades collaborated on investigations. Ben Sherwood has served on the board of this honorable and important organization founded by former ABC NEWS producer Chuck Lewis. CPI’s management’s decisions in submitting an inaccurate and misleading entry without consulting us and not acknowledging our true role after winning have brought us to this point. In a world of decreasing resources for in-depth investigative journalism that is very sad outcome. (Emphasis added)

Wake up, America.  The truly sad outcome here is lobbyists are writing your “news”…

…They have been for decades.  And, in a world of “decreasing resources,” expect more and more of it to come your way.

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