Conservative Media Don’t Get Free Pass on Disclosure. Here’s Why

Sometimes things are not completely as they seem. Take, for instance, the story of the African-American conservative columnist who is no longer writing a column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The narrative is that she was suspended for her conservative beliefs and chose to quit. While she is absolutely right about the MSM and its treatment of gun owners, is there more to the discipline of Stacy Washington than an anti-conservative bias? There may be, and it is something we should want applied across the board.

Let’s back up. Recently, Washington wrote an excellent column regarding the media and its treatment of conservatives, especially gun owners. Her points were unassailable: that the media doesn’t understand those who own guns; that the media blames guns for crime instead of the real causes.

She took particular umbrage at a column appearing in the Columbia Missourian that attacked NRA members. She correctly stated that members of the NRA tend to be more law-abiding than the general public and that none of the crimes the other columnist mentioned were committed by NRA members. She also took to task the Missourian for not offering opposing viewpoints. These are all valid points.

If we are to believe the people who run the Post-Dispatch, those points aren’t what drew the suspension. Washington’s failure to disclose, in her column, that she has a long-standing relationship with the NRA is what caused her suspension. She has appeared on NRA video programming and in a documentary for the organization. The Post-Dispatch, like many news and opinion organizations, has a disclosure policy.

Here’s what the Post-Dispatch told Washington via email, according to the Riverfront Times: “You did not disclose in your column published today that you served multiple times as a co-host and commentator on Cam & Company on NRA TV.” Washingon told the Times that she had “never been paid by the NRA.” She also said her ties to the organization should be no surprise to management.

That isn’t the point. The point is that her readers, not Post-Dispatch management, are the ones who had a right to know about the conflict. When Conservative Review ran an editorial supporting Jim DeMint this past week, it was noted that the author had previously worked for DeMint. The readers had a right to know.

Those of us on the right often lambaste the mainstream media for not abiding by this standard. Just this week, I reminded readers of the time George Stephanopoulos didn’t disclose his donations to the Clinton Foundation when interviewing Hillary Clinton.

Stephanopoulos failed to disclose to ABC [and the networks viewers] that he had donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation before interviewing Hillary Clinton, against company policy, the Washington Free Beacon reported. After finally disclosing, he had to step down from hosting a primary debate.

If we are going to attack the leftist media, we need to hold our own to the same standards. There may be more historical bad blood between Washington and her former employer. If, however, we take the Post-Dispatch at its word that it has treated other employees in the same way, we should ensure that our allies in the commentariat follow the standards we hold others to.

Washington’s voice is strong, and much needed, but we should hold her to the same standards to which we hold someone like George Stephanopoulos. (For more from the author of “Conservative Media Don’t Get Free Pass on Disclosure. Here’s Why” please click HERE)

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