Bozell to ABC President: You Must Publicly Address Stephanopoulos' Apparent Conflict of Interest

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Letter to ABC News President

Dear David Westin,

Last week's Politico story broke the news that George Stephanopoulos, your Chief Washington Correspondent and the host of your Sunday morning news show This Week, has daily phone discussions with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, which help formulate and shape the thoughts of and messaging for the Democratic Party and the Obama Administration.

As stated in the Politico:

Everyone likes to deride the "conventional wisdom." In fairness, though, the wisdom is not yet conventional at the moment it is hatched. And in any given news cycle, it is quite likely that Washington's prevailing political and media interpretation - at least on the Democratic side - is being hatched on these calls.

This is a clear conflict of interest. But it is more than that. It is a clear violation of journalistic ethics. In a public statement on Thursday, we called on Mr. Stephanopoulos to give an explanation and to recuse himself from coverage of the Obama Administration if the Politico story is true. And we were clearly not alone in our indignation; we subsequently learned that your phone banks were shut down that same Thursday by who knows how many people who called to register their outrage over the report and this obvious breach of integrity.

We tuned in eagerly on Sunday to see if Mr. Stephanopoulos would address this glaring lack of ethics, or recuse himself from reporting on the Administration. Unfortunately, he did neither. Of course, it could also be the case that the Politico story is somehow false, in which case we would have expected Mr. Stephanopoulos to deny it. Yet there was utter silence coming from him.

So now we turn to you. With each passing day, ABC's failure to speak to and about this issue tarnishes further your network's reputation as a legitimate news entity. We are calling on you now, as President of ABC News, to publicly address and resolve this issue. If the charges are false, provide the evidence. We will gladly accept it and consider the matter closed. If the charges are correct, then ABC News must address this publicly and comprehensively.

ABC News may decide that silence is the best policy. I assure you that will be a mistake. We will not stop this discussion. If you think you are bleeding audience numbers now, what do you suppose will be your audience's reaction when it is established that your Chief Washington Correspondent continues to be a key strategist for the Democratic Party?


L. Brent Bozell, III
President and Founder
Media Research Center

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