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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/24/13

CNN's Latest Gingrich Ethics Problem: His Company Received RNC Payment

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Last month, Newt Gingrich's media production company was paid $9,500 by the Republican National Committee, a fact he has not divulged on Crossfire,  the CNN program he co-hosts. It's the latest ethics headache brought to the network by their new host.

The RNC made the payment to Gingrich Productions on September 25 for "media services," as National Review's Jonathan Strong first reported. Gingrich Productions is a multimedia production company founded by the former Speaker of the House that features his work and that of his wife Callista, who has served as the company's president since Newt transferred control of the company to her in 2011 in preparation for his presidential run.

According to financial disclosure forms that Gingrich filed during that campaign, Gingrich Productions paid him $2.4 million in 2010. It's unclear whether such payments have restarted following the conclusion of his run, but an April 2013 article reported that Gingrich's future plans were "centered around" the company.

Gingrich Productions' website highlights Gingrich's role as host of CNN's Crossfire, "where he continues to advocate bold policy ideas." As a Fox News contributor, Gingrich regularly appeared on air to promote the work of the for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations he headed, including Gingrich Productions.

Media Matters  review of CNN transcripts found no indication that Gingrich had disclosed the RNC payment on-air. A CNN spokesman declined to comment. 

This is not the first ethical lapse during Gingrich's brief tenure at CNN. After his political action committee donated to the campaigns of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Gingrich hosted Paul and praised Cruz on-air without disclosing the payments. That appeared to violate the ethical ground rules that CNN had established; a network executive had previously told Media Matters that if Gingrich "is helping fund a candidate and that candidate's on the show, or being discussed on the show, of course he'll disclose that."

But after Media Matters and other outlets reported on Gingrich's apparent breaches of those ground rules, CNN changed the rules, stating that they were "clarifying the policy" to state that such disclosures are not required "since the co-host's political support is obvious by his or her point of view expressed on the program."

Reliable Sources,  CNN's own media criticism show, subsequently denounced the network's decision, with guest host Brian Stelter saying, "CNN can do better than this."

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Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.
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