CNBC’s Larry Kudlow Abuses Platform to Further Potential U.S. Senate Candidacy

Media Matters issues open letter to CNBC President calling for action

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)– Media Matters for America President Eric Burns issued an open letter to CNBC President Mark Hoffman expressing concern over CNBC host Larry Kudlow’s use of air time to further his potential candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

Kudlow recently expressed interest in running against Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) in 2010 and is reportedly headlining a fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee on March 24. His potential candidacy raises questions beyond the accuracy of his reporting; CNBC has an obligation to its viewers to assure them Kudlow’s reporting is not being compromised by his political aspirations.

Burns’ letter says in part, “He is either a journalist or a candidate; he cannot be both. … As a private citizen, Kudlow has a right to explore a run for public office, but using his platform as a CNBC host to further his political ambitions jeopardizes the integrity of your network.”

FULL TEXT OF LETTER INCLUDED BELOW:

March 20, 2009

Mark Hoffman
President, CNBC

900 Sylvan Ave

Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632

Dear Mr. Hoffman,

In light of CNBC host Larry Kudlow’s recently expressed interest in running for the U.S. Senate, we feel compelled to express our concern for the credibility of your network. Mr. Kudlow is either a journalist or a candidate; he cannot be both.

The integrity of Mr. Kudlow’s coverage of any issue of national import is compromised by his reported Senate aspirations. Viewers have no way of knowing whether his interviews or commentaries are affected in any way by his interest in running. For example, in a segment from his March 17 show, Mr. Kudlow interviewed Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and asked the senator leading questions about the Senate Republican agenda. Viewers should not have to wonder whether Mr. Kudlow’s questions were motivated even in part by his potential political ambitions.

Further, on March 17, Mr. Kudlow singled out Sen. Chris Dodd out when discussing the legislative effort divest AIG employees of their bonuses by means of, as he described it, “a sales tax? Senator Dodd wants to put a tax on it, or somebody wants to put a tax on it?” Such commentary inevitably raises the question of whether Mr. Kudlow singled out Sen. Dodd appropriately, or if he was motivated, consciously or not, by political aspirations. Regardless of whether Mr. Kudlow intends to keep his potential Senate run completely separate from his job as a CNBC journalist, the very fact that he is considering such a run raises questions that compromise his work for CNBC.

Moreover, Mr. Kudlow has on at least one occasion actually attacked Sen. Dodd on his show. Less than three weeks before reportedly voicing his interest in a Senate run, Mr. Kudlow stated on February 13 that Sen. Chris Dodd, his potential opponent, “has yet to divulge fully his sweetheart mortgage deals with the former Countrywide. He’s re-fi’ed his mortgages, but we don’t know those documents, either. Instead of being impeached, he’s still around.”

Further complicating matters, Mr. Kudlow also is slated to headline a March 24 fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

As a private citizen, Mr. Kudlow has a right to explore a run for public office, but using his platform as a CNBC host to further his political ambitions jeopardizes the integrity of your network. We ask that CNBC require he make a decision about his candidacy and, should he decide to run for office, take a leave of absence until the conclusion of the campaign.

eric burns

Eric Burns

President, Media Matters For America