Update, 2/27: Given the latest MSNBC discussion touching on Americans Elect with Mark McKinnon, John Lumea points out, I’ve asked MSNBC administration to respond to this information:
To whom it may concern,
As documented here…
… during the month of February 2012, Mark McKinnon has appeared on at least 4 MSNBC shows and been introduced by their 5 hosts without reference to his leadership position in presidential political effort Americans Elect. In each of these shows, Mark McKinnon has played a role in promoting the Americans Elect presidential effort without challenge by the MSNBC hosts, instead taking on the role of a pundit discussing Americans Elect.
Did the MSNBC hosts know or not know about Mark McKinnon’s leadership position at Americans Elect? If they did not know, what vetting procedure for guests failed to uncover this information?
… and I’ll let you know what response I get, if I get any response at all.
Appearance #1: On Thursday February 9 2012 (tip of the pen to John Lumea), Mark McKinnon made an appearance on MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan Show. McKinnon was labeled as the “founder of No Labels” and appeared alongside Americans Elect Elliot Ackerman. Ratigan had the sense to ask whether the No Labels and Americans Elect organizations had “any association”:
Dylan Ratigan: I’m interested to get a sense of, well, first, do you guys have anything in common? Do Americans Elect and No Labels have any association?
Mark McKinnon: They don’t. No Labels is working to change things within the system, and Americans Elect is working on an alternative nominating system, to change the system. But both have a goal to change the system as we’ve got.
Appearance #2: On Monday February 20 2012, Mark McKinnon appeared on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports in a segment where he was introduced by Mitchell as “Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, cofounder of No Labels and a former advisor to President George W. Bush.” Mitchell made no inquiries about any additional affiliations McKinnon had, and McKinnon volunteered no more such information. McKinnon proceeded to explain why both Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney were flawed GOP candidates for president, and how an organization called Americans Elect might nominate a better presidential candidate, David Walker:
Andrea Mitchell: Is it going to be Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum, one or the other? Is there any chance that you see that someone else will get into the Republican race?
Mark McKinnon: I love the chaos theory and I think that it’s always possible. You look at the math and the big states that are coming up. Nothing focuses the party’s mind right now like the guillotine, and I think they see the guillotine right now. So I think that everyone is checking their bets for other options, and as Thomas Friedman pointed out in his column yesterday, there’s more and more attention on an alternative nominating process with someone like David Walker, the former Comptroller of the United States and also Co-Labels cofounder, er, No Labels cofounder, through the Americans Elect ticket. So a lot of chaos and perhaps that will lead to some interesting results.
Andrea Mitchell: Mark McKinnon, I’ll put you down in favor of chaos.
Appearance #3: On Tuesday February 21 2012, Mark McKinnon appeared on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown, a TV show hosted by Chuck Todd. Todd introduced McKinnon as the “co-founder of No Labels” and then asked him to “play political strategist here,” but made no statements or inquiries about any additional affiliations McKinnon had. Mark McKinnon volunteered no more such information about his affiliations, but did proceed to promote Americans Elect as a positive alternative to Democrats and Republicans and to promote David Walker as a particular presidential candidate within the Americans Elect system.
Neither Mark McKinnon nor any of the above MSNBC journalists acknowledged this pertinent fact, leaving viewers to receive McKinnon’s words of praise for Walker and Americans Elect as if they were coming from an analyst without a stake in the game.
Did Mark McKinnon manage to play these three successive MSNBC anchors for chumps? If so, then McKinnon took advantage of an unaware “news network” that doesn’t do its homework. Or did Andrea Mitchell, Dylan Ratigan and Chuck Todd know that McKinnon was a leader of Americans Elect but decide that viewers didn’t need to know? If so, then MNSBC is acting in a manner contrary to the professional journalistic code of ethics.
No matter which of these possibilities reflects the truth, MSNBC and Mark McKinnon come out of this looking a little dirty.