Group Calls ABC News on 'Conflict of Interest'

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A conservative media group is urging ABC News to publicly address what it calls "conflicts of interest" within its reporter staff.

Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center called on ABC News president David Westin, Wednesday, to respond to their accusations against Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos.

The Politico reported last week that Stephanopoulos has participated in daily phone conversations with now White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.  Emanuel said the calls "are about what's happening, what the implications are of what's happening and what's going on."

"This is a clear conflict of interest," Bozell wrote in his letter to the company. "But it is more than that. It is a clear violation of journalistic ethics."

Emanuel said he's made the early morning phone calls for 17 years. CNN commentators Paul Begala and James Carville were also part of the conversations.

Should There Be a Concern?

Bozell wants Stephanopoulos to be pulled from reporting on any stories involving the Obama administration, saying it would be difficult for him to "be critical of the White House's plans when he spends every morning helping to craft them."

Still, John Harris, who wrote the Politico article, said he didn't think the friendly conversations should be a concern.

"The calls are certainly a fascinating Washington ritual, but by no means do I think George Stephanopoulos is participating in strategy sessions," he told Politico blogger Ben Smith.

Smith also talked to ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider about Bozell's complaints.

"George speaks to Rahm, but he speaks to plenty of conservatives and Republicans every single day.  That's part of his job," Schneider explained.

"The idea that there is some daily conference call that he hops on is just nonsense and not true," he added, clarifying that he didn't think the Politico story implied otherwise.

Stephanopoulos is the host of ABC's Sunday morning news show This Week and was a primary reporter during the network's special election coverage.

So far, he has not addressed the accusations against him.

Sources: Media Research Center, Politico

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