TV Anchorman Lobbies Connecticut Legislature For Bill Benefiting Broadcasters

June 11th, 2007 5:57 PM

This really is delicious: a television anchorman in Connecticut has been exposed as having lobbied members of that state’s legislature in order to get a bill that benefited broadcasters passed.

As reported Friday by the Hartford Courant (h/t Dan Gainor):

Al Terzi, anchor of WFSB, Channel 3's "Eyewitness News," personally called a key legislator to urge the bill's passage. Terzi's WFSB colleagues Kevin Hogan and Susan Raff also lobbied for the bill, according to the legislator.

"Al Terzi called me," said state Rep. Emil "Buddy" Altobello, D-Meriden, an original sponsor of the bill, which concerned only security guards. "To ask for some help on the bill."

The bill, if signed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell, would limit employers' ability to restrict when and where security guards and broadcasters subsequently work.

How sweet. The article continued by pointing out the obvious conflict of interest:

Terzi was not the only well-known television news journalist who made calls for the bill, which raises other issues: Journalists should not make personal appeals to people they are expected to report on impartially, said Edward Wasserman, who holds the Knight Chair in Journalism Ethics at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va.

"You're also expecting them to then turn around and report, without fear or favor, on the very people to whom they'd gone hat in hand and asked favors from," he said. "The whole problem with any conflict of interest is the existence of obligations or loyalties unbeknownst to the public that could reasonably affect your professional judgment."

A more appropriate response by
Connecticut's broadcast journalists would have been to hire a lobbyist, give the lobbyist specific instructions and then stay out of the process entirely, Wasserman said.

I agree.