Not only did NBC debate moderators give California Sen. Kamala Harris extra time during its June debate, it turns out twelve executives from NBC Universal and parent company Comcast gave her campaign cash too.
NBC was ready to crown Harris the victor after its two-night, Democratic debates June 26 and 27. In various programming the network heaped praise on the “breakout star,” calling her “brave” and “powerful.”
But NBC’s moderators broke their own debate rules by giving Harris more time than she was supposed to get, some of which she used to attack former Vice President Joe Biden and accuse him. The resulting exchange caused MSNBC host Chris Matthews to wonder if Biden could survive Harris’ “amazing night in history.”
Now, recently released Federal Election Commission data revealed Harris had another kind of help from NBC.
At least 12 NBCUniversal/Comcast executives donated to the Harris campaign in the months leading up to the debate. The FEC data included March and April 2019 donations, raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
Those five were Vice Chairman of NBC Universal Ronald Meyer, Chairman of NBCU Film and Entertainment Jeff Shell, President of NBC Universal International Television Distribution and Universal Networks International Belinda Menendez, Comcast Spotlight Senior Vice President and Marketing Executive Maria Weaver and Vice President of Enterprise Sales and Global Commercial Development Katie Back of FreeWheel, A Comcast Company.
The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics clearly states that journalists should “Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.”
It also states that journalists should refuse credibility-harming “special treatment” and should “Avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.”
NBC Universal had not responded to Media Research Center’s request for comment as of July 23, 2019.