CNN To Begin Revealing Celebrity Guests’ Ties to Drug Makers When They Discuss Medical Issues
CNN officials, acting on revelations that some celebrities appearing on its news programs are being paid to promote certain drugs, have announced a new policy to inform viewers about guests' financial ties to companies, the New York Times reports. CNN producers will now ask guests who wish to speak about medical issues whether they are being paid by a drug company, and if there is a financial tie, it will be revealed during the interview, according to the Times (Petersen, New York Times, 8/23). Many drug companies have used celebrities for disease awareness campaigns, in which actors, including Lauren Bacall, Rob Lowe and Noah Wyle, often "mention brand-name drugs without disclosing their financial ties to the maker" when appearing on television shows. The celebrities generally receive "hefty fees" to "disclose intimate details of ailments that affect them or people close to them" (California Healthline, 8/12). CNN Spokesperson Sarah Cohn said, "In light of recent attention involving paid celebrity endorsements, CNN became aware that some celebrities we interviewed about their health problems might be paid. We decided it was important for our viewers to be aware of that as part of any future interviews or features about a celebrity."
Executives at ABC, CBS and NBC also have said they intend to "become more careful" about revealing celebrities' ties to drug companies. Marcy McGinnis, senior vice president in charge of news coverage for CBS News, said that before each interview, the network will ask guests about any "corporate connections" and will disclose any ties during the interview. Lisa Finkel, a spokesperson for ABC's "Good Morning America," said that many of the show's producers have asked guests or the people representing them about corporate ties before interviews. She added, "We've become much more vigilant" (New York Times, 8/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.