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Chris Matthews accepted huge speaking fees in violation of NBC policy

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Well, looks like that debate is over.

Just a few days ago, NBC Universal president Rick Kaplan sent the following email to an AMERICAblog reader who was concerned about recent reports that NBC anchor Chris Matthews was accepting huge speaking fees from lobbyists in Washington.

From: Kaplan, Rick (NBC Universal, MSNBC)
To: xxxxx
Sent: Sunday, March 12, 2006 5:26 AM
Subject: Re: Conflict of Interest:Matthews Big Speaking Engagements at Right Wing Organizations

No NBC anchors take money from any interest group...or any group that I can think of...but these folks don't want to hear that and we choose not to engage them. Chris couldn't be more unfairly treated...

Rick Kaplan
President, MSNBC
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld
Well, the problem is that ThinkProgress just got the goods on Matthews, and it shows that in fact Matthews has accepted speaking fees as high as $35,000 an appearance from Washington, DC lobbying associations. Now, before Mr. Kaplan starts saying that the groups Matthews spoke to are not "interest groups," let's see how the first group, the National Venture Capital Association describes itself:
The venture capital community's leading source for information, networking, advocacy, professional development and industry statistics.
Advocacy. They're the lobbyists for the industry. That's what trade associations are. They're lobbyists. Or to use Mr. Kaplan's phrase: interest groups.

Then there's the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Here's a description of their lobbying from their own Web site:

And finally, there's the American Hospital Association, which also freely admits that it lobbies:
Through our representation and advocacy activities, AHA ensures that members' perspectives and needs are heard and addressed in national health policy development, legislative and regulatory debates, and judicial matters. Our advocacy efforts include the legislative and executive branches and include the legislative and regulatory arenas.
So, in contrast to what the president of NBC Universal has been saying publicly, Chris Matthews has taken money from interest groups, and it is categorically untrue that NBC anchors do not take such money.

Now who's refusing to listen?

(More from Open Letter to Chris Matthews.)

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