In the New York Times Magazine’s new profile of Politico reporter Mike Allen, there is a passing look a party given for Meet The Press Executive Producer Betsy Fischer:

On a recent Friday night, a couple hundred influentials gathered for a Mardi Gras-themed birthday party for Betsy Fischer, the executive producer of “Meet the Press.” Held at the Washington home of the lobbyist Jack Quinn, the party was a classic Suck-Up City affair in which everyone seemed to be congratulating one another on some recent story, book deal, show or haircut (and, by the way, your boss is doing a swell job, and maybe we could do an interview).

McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, arrived after the former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie left. Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren had David Axelrod pinned into a corner near a tower of cupcakes. In the basement, a very white, bipartisan Soul Train was getting down to hip-hop. David Gregory, the “Meet the Press” host, and Newsweek’s Jon Meacham gave speeches about Fischer.

Jack Quinn is one of the top Democratic lobbyists in Washington. His firm Quinn Gillespie & Associates work for a wide variety of clients from AT&T to The Republic of Macedonia to Visa. On their website the top two areas under “Results” are Healthcare and Energy & the Environment.
Save perhaps Macedonia, something related to these clients or areas of expertise will undoubtedly arise on Meet The Press during any given week. This is not to say that Mr. Quinn has any influence whatsoever on Ms. Fischer or Meet The Press, but it doesn’t inspire absolute confidence either.

If you had to choose between a talk show episode on the issue of climate change where the executive producer was very good friends with one of the top climate change lobbyists and a show from which the executive producer who had no lobbyist friends – which would you prefer as a viewer? Or imagine the same scenario except the lobbyist works for the coal industry.

Having a comprehensive fact checking system can be an important fail-safe in these kinds of situations. There will always be areas of gray when considering the private lives of journalists or the “Suck-Up” parties they might attend, but having systems in place like the one we are suggesting can help alleviate the fears of viewers and maintain the highest possible confidence in the show. Regardless of guest, host, or producer, the backbone of consistent and guaranteed accountability would be there.

Contact Ms. Fischer right now, let her know your concerns, and respectfully ask her to establish the fail-safe of post-broadcast fact checking for Meet The Press. It just makes sense.

h/t: Jay Rosen