Should News Host Have Said No Thanks?

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Eric Scott

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3-24-15

New Jersey 101.5 host Eric Scott is riding around town in a nice new car this month, one he tweeted was “the sweetest ride of my life.” According to The International Business Times, the Corvette is on loan from The Lester Glenn Auto Group which sponsors the “Ask The Governor” show that airs on the station. Governor Chris Christie urged the sponsor to give Scott the car after Scott complained he didn’t make much money hosting the program. Scott is tasked with asking the probable 2016 presidential candidate the tough questions.

Lester Glenn’s vice president of operations John Perillo told the paper the car is a temporary loaner and the dealership just wanted to prove it was listening when Christie mentioned it on the air. He said the dealership will pick it up from Scott at the end of this month. “We didn’t give it to him. He’s just using it for the month, basically.”

University of Wisconsin’s Center for Journalism Ethics Director Robert Dreschel told the paper, “I struggle to find any ethical justification for a call-in show host/news director to accept a gift of any kind, much less a Corvette, from someone at the behest of a talk-show guest, much less when that guest is the governor of the state. Accepting such a gift inherently compromises or at least leaves the appearance of compromising the independence of not just the host/news director, but of the public affairs/news operation of the station itself. Although there may seem to be no quid pro quo here, I think there actually is. Surely a gift made under such circumstances leaves the host vulnerable to feeling beholden to the guest who has facilitated the gift, and to the gift-giver as well. Surely it would be reasonable for listeners to suspect as much.”

 RadioInk

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