Fox Business is Asking for Trouble

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    Network’s latest hire creates huge crisis management risk

    Even in an era where many members of the media are more keen on big ratings than credibility, Fox is scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of reputation. While one might expect the network, lambasted regularly for biased reporting and a lack of fact-checking, would be cautious when it came to situations that could grind its name further into the mud, a recent move from Fox Business Network shows it’s doing just the opposite.

    The Huffington Post’s Alexander Kaufman recently blogged about the coming, “Making Money with Charles Payne”, which features investment tips from a man facing several ethics scandals. Here’s a sampling:

    The problem is, Payne’s financial trustworthiness has been called into question multiple times in the past. Most recently, a 2013 investigation by watchdog group Media Matters for America found that Payne had been paid to promote three companies that are now worth almost nothing.

    “Payne used his Fox credentials in promotional materials to assure skeptical investors that his advice was trustworthy,” Eric Hananoki, a research fellow at Media Matters, wrote in the report. Payne joined Fox in 2007 as a paid contributor.

    Brainy Brands Company, which Payne claimed could turn “$10,000 into 33,300,” is now worth a fraction of a penny per share. Payne said NXT Nutritionals Holdings could “turn $10,000 into $25,000,” but it is now worth less than a cent per share. And Generex Biotechnology Corporate, which Payne recommended could trade at $1.38 per share, is now worth less than 3 cents per share.

    Even worse, Payne has already paid out a $25,000 fine to the SEC after failing to disclose that he was paid to promote various company’s stock, although he managed to avoid admitting any wrongdoing in the process.

    This is actually one case we’re surprised the lawyers haven’t jumped into already. While legal and crisis management teams can sometimes be at odds, the potential for bad behavior by Payne to have a financial impact on his employer should be very much apparent to both sides.

    Fox bringing someone already proven to be lacking in ethics into the fold, and allowing them to dispense advice to unsuspecting viewers, is the very definition of asking for trouble.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]