Howard Kurtz at the Daily Beast wrote today that ABC has ended the practice of paying for access. The network had taken much heat after it was revealed that ABC contributed $200,000 to Casey Anthony's legal defense.
As a freelance producer for ABC, I applaud the decision. The practice was preventing the dissemination of important news because the news budget was being allocated to sensationalism.
Casey Anthony was not the only questionable mom that they paid. Back in May, ABC offered $10,000 for the interview with the mom that claimed that she had injected her daughter with Botox to make her more competitive on the beauty pageant circuit. After she appeared on Good Morning America, she admitted that she had made up the whole story and used a false name. Good Morning America rightfully withheld payment.
The payment to the Botox mom caught my eye because I was negotiating with ABC the same week. I had gotten an exclusive from former President George Bush, which I sold to ABC for $500. Bush had revealed the details of his conversation with President Obama after the death of Osama Bin Laden.
More than 1800 outlets linked to the story that I gave ABC. The entire tenor of the debate about the death of Osama Bin Laden changed after the publication of my story. After reading Bush's comments, even conservatives on Fox stopped doubting that Bin Laden was dead and whether Obama had handled it correctly. Sites such as Politico noticed that Bush could not find the time to come to Ground Zero after the death of Bin Laden but had earned $15 million making speeches to well heeled executives.
I also had some exclusive comments from former Secretary of State Colin Powell about the Pakistani government's knowledge of Bin Laden's whereabouts and former Senator Dodd backing away from Dodd- Frank. ABC had the chutzpah to ask me to thrown them in for free even after my initial story had spread like wildfire.
It has always struck in my craw that a mother, who could have murdered her child, and a mother, who claimed to endanger her, were able to outbid me especially when I was selling such an important piece of history.