If indeed ABC News “ran” to Byers after getting an inquiry from the Washington Free Beacon, shame on them. PR shops, after all, exist to handle just the scenario that the Washington Free Beacon presented. It’s a very linear transaction: Reporter asks, PR responds. Should it turn out that ABC News betrayed this very simplicity, the network will have forfeited its expectation that journalists check with them before publishing their goods on ABC News. “I’m trying to instill the value of reporting to a new generation of conservative reporters,” says Continetti. “What lesson do they draw when they do their due diligence and some hack PR agent goes to another outlet in order to control the story?”
That’s such a good question that the Erik Wemple Blog just dropped it into an e-mail and passed it along to ABC News along with the other questions that they won’t answer.
Short-sighted would be a compliment for this media strategy. The nub of the Stephanopoulos news was that a top media figure had left a green paper trail of support for the Clinton family’s grand designs. Could he possibly, then, treat Republicans and conservatives with fairness? At the very time that this chatter started circulating, the network’s PR operation was shafting a conservative news outlet by slow-e-mailing its response. Symmetry.