Politicians and network news shouldn’t mix

Photo by: Gage Skidmore

Posted by Lauren Horsch
When politicians get bumped out of an election, many go back to what they use to do — whether it be practicing law or government work. Lately though, the American public has been witnessing a trend…Politicians taking over network news shows.

Most notably, former New York Governor, Eliot Spitzer was the host of “In the Arena” on CNN.

Many of you might remember his indiscretions with a call girl service. Not unlike many, his scandals were widely publicized and quite frankly, humiliating. His family stayed by his side during the turmoil though, which is commendable.

Spitzer had been on air at CNN for nine months before the networked cancelled his show in early July 2011. This move was only part of the network’s nightly news change-up.

More recently though, former Minnesota governor and 2012 Presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty was looking for a news show. According to various media reports, Pawlenty wanted to become a commentator on Fox. The chief of Fox rejected this idea because Pawlenty was about to endorse Mitt Romney.

“I’m not sure I want to sign you as a paid spokesman for Romney,” said Fox President Robert Alies in a report from the Huffington Post.

Do you think that politicians should be making the jump from politics to network news? Or is it too easy to see their bias after knowing what they did during their previous line of work?

In my opinion, I see obvious ethical problems using a former politician to anchor a news show. According to a Pew Research Center report, the American public already believes that media sources are influenced by powerful people and organizations; and having politicians work in the media is just adding to this fuel.


4 responses to “Politicians and network news shouldn’t mix

  1. This is definitely a slippery slope news organizations take when they hire political personalities. It really depends on the type of show, though. If Tim Pawlenty were to have a talk show on FOX News, that would be OK–talk shows are more for entertainment than news. But in the case of someone like Al Sharpton, a former presidential candidate, delivering news for MSNBC, that is completely different. News reporters are meant to keep their biases to themselves. He may say he does, but that’s a fine line, and people know his political preference.

  2. The first thing I thought of while reading about this trend was the Disney Channel star phenomenon – those kid sitcom stars who (magically) become recording artists, like Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez. Disney is like a pop artist-making machine: they seem destined to produce music for tweens and college students alike.

    But I digress. Politicians obviously play a different role in our society. You can turn Miley Cyrus off if she annoys you; politicians, on the other hand, don’t seem to go away. However, their movement toward television seems almost natural to me. Politicians are public speakers by trade, and so channeling that skill into talk shows make sense.

    In a way, though, I think moving into television is an irrevocable commitment. Once a politician is on television, I’m not likely to take him or her seriously if they try for office later on: they’ve “converted” to a kind of celebrity status, and that takes away from their political accountability.

    Take Arnold Schwarzenegger for example: I just can’t get accustomed to him in a politician hat. All I can see is the Terminator.

  3. I completely agree with you, Olivia. In fact, the first thing I thought of was Schwarzenegger. I’ve watched a couple of his political speeches and every time, I waited for him to end with, “I’ll be back.”

    I do think it goes both ways, though, On the one hand, I can’t take Schwarzenegger seriously because he moved from actor to politician, but I also think I, personally, couldn’t take a politician seriously if he switched to being a television personality. Not only do I think their political preferences would influence them on the news, but it raises the question: did they really run because they love to serve the people or did they run for the fame and power?

  4. I agree with Jeff and Olivia – Talk shows are completely different. I just feel as thought politicians are just in it for their own self-interest. The politicians-turned-actor phenomenon is also perplexing to me. I understand that actors have a huge fan base that can thus get them elected, but how electable are they? Do I really want Kim Kardashian as my next senator? Probably not.

    This leads to another point though…Where do we draw the line between politician and celebrity? Can the be on in the same? Or are they two separate entities?

    My main concern in this all is the blatant bias a politician would have as an anchor. You know exactly where the person stands and then you can obviously see where he is going with the story and for what reason. I see this as a huge disregard to the American public when it comes to accountability. We (as in the media) cannot hold the government accountable when half of us where part of the government.

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