Political Reporters Need to Report Campaign Donations in Routine Coverage

Among many of the kayfabe-esque qualities of political coverage is the complete absence of coverage of political donations. Yes, there occasionally will be specific stories about the blight of campaign contributions, but they’re never worked into routine coverage. Consider this story about an Exxon lobbyist who was tricked into describing his lobbying strategies (boldface mine):

The recordings appear to reveal the secretive behind-the-scenes activities of a lobbyist for a company that claims in public to support action on climate change, while fighting against legislative attempts to tackle it….

Keith McCoy is a senior ExxonMobil lobbyist on Capitol Hill and has represented the company in its liaison with the US Congress for the last eight years…

Mr McCoy names 11 senators who he says are “crucial” to ExxonMobil: Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Senator Joe Manchin, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Senator Jon Tester, Senator Maggie Hassan, Senator John Barrasso, Senator John Cornyn, Senator Steve Daines, Senator Chris Coons, Senator Mark Kelly and Senator Marco Rubio.

We gave all these senators a chance to respond. All the senators declined to comment. There is no suggestion of illegality.

Channel 4 News has established, through Federal Election Commission (FEC) data, that all except two of these senators (Senators Maggie Hassan and Mark Kelly) have received financial contributions from ExxonMobil.

Every time there is a story about climate change legislation and a legislator is mentioned, the article should mention how much in campaign contributions that official has received from industry and industry-aligned groups. It wouldn’t be hard to write, “Sen. Joe Manchin, who has received $X from the energy industry and aligned groups…” The money obviously isn’t the only thing motivating politicians: voter preferences and ideology do play a role, but to pretend that getting this money isn’t important is absurd.

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2 Responses to Political Reporters Need to Report Campaign Donations in Routine Coverage

  1. Bern says:

    Yeah, you’d think that reporters woulda learned the Pulitzer-guaranteeing phrase “follow the money” by now…

  2. Net Denizen says:

    “Follow the money” is what journalists do. We only have reporters these days.

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