Now Substitute Host Ezra Klein Fails to Disclose Ties to Vox and Vox Reporter Appearing as Guest

Serving on Friday as the substitute host for Now with Alex Wagner, Vox founder and Editor-In-Chief Ezra Klein had a science reporter from Vox.com on to discuss the current outbreak of the Ebola virus in Africa and the arrival of two Americans who were working there to an Atlanta-area hospital. The segment was very informative, but it left out one key detail: Klein failed to disclose his own ties to Vox and the obvious conflict of interest that presents. Not only that, but Klein never even mentioned once his full-time job during the entire show.

At the conclusion of the previous segment, Klein provided this look ahead to the segment after the break by saying that: "Coming up, new reports that Ebola is coming to the U.S., so what will it mean to treat American patients with Ebola in the states? I will talk with Vox science reporter Susannah Locke next." [MP3 audio here; Video below]

When Klein returned from commercial break, he still did not acknowledge his ties to Vox or that his guest also works for him. When introducing her, all he said was this: “Joining me now is science reporter with Vox, Susannah Locke.” From there, he dove right into talking about the deadly virus. 

At the segment’s conclusion and in the final chance to disclose their connection as co-workers, Klein again chose not to do so by simply saying: “Susannah Locke from Vox, thank you very much for being here.”

While Klein is a frequent guest and substitute host on multiple MSNBC shows (and thus familiar with normal viewers), it certainly would be helpful to more forthcoming in all the connections hosts have between their guests.


The relevant portions of the transcript from the August 1 edition of Now with Alex Wagner on MSNBC are transcribed below. 

MSNBC 

Now with Alex Wagner

August 1, 2014

4:46 p.m. Eastern

EZRA KLEIN: Coming up, new reports that Ebola is coming to the U.S., so what will it mean to treat American patients with Ebola in the states? I will talk with Vox science reporter Susannah Locke next. 

(....)

KLEIN: This is the largest and deadliest outbreak of the disease in its four decade history. Centered in the west African countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, more than 1,300 people have been infected and more than 700 have died. But the good news, if there is good news is Ebola is scarier and is more lethal than it is actually contagious. Joining me now is science reporter with Vox, Susannah Locke. 

SUSANNAH LOCKE: Hey.

KLEIN: My mother has sent me in the last 24 hours, roughly 24,000 e-mails you about how she is terrified about Ebola coming to our shores. So I guess my question is, should she – should we be terrified? Is this something that there's reason to believe a sophisticated hospital couldn't contain? 

(....)

LOCKE: Well, I think it can be very scary for people in these communities, especially if you don't have a good relationship with health care because there hasn’t been much health care around. These people are coming in, often they have gowns and goggles and suits for protection. I mean, that's kind of creepy and then people are telling you to come to this place to get treated and a lot of those people don't come out alive. 

KLEIN: Susannah Locke from Vox, thank you very much for being here. 

LOCKE: Thank you.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is a news analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division