Cable news startup NewsNation’s Trump ties worry staff

Two senior editors have quit the cable news channel NewsNation amid issues over right-wing bias and ties to Bill Shine, a former communications manager for President Trump.

Other staffers have taken issue with the apparent right-leaning coverage that occurred despite assurances that the startup network would deliver straight news, according to The New York Times.

The two editors — Sandy Pudar and Richard Maginn — resigned in February and March respectively, as concern grew among NewsNation staffers that the news organization was leaning to the right, the Times reported. 

NewsNation said in a statement that it does not comment on personnel matters when asked about Pudar and Maginn’s departures.

Gary Weitman, executive vice president and chief communication officer for its parent company Nexstar, said the network’s reporting is fact-based, adding that the media bias rating organization Ad Fontes Media determined NewsNation leans neither right nor left. 

Weitman said the news organization has a history of hiring talent from CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business, CBS, NBC and ABC.

Though Shine signed on to NewsNation prior to its launch, NewsNation editorial staff only learned of his involvement after it was reported in early February by cable news industry site and the Hollywood Reporter, according to the Times.

Shine was a Fox News executive for almost 20 years, eventually rising to the rank of co-president. He was forced out of Fox News, the Times reported, 10 months after former its chairman Roger Ailes was removed after sexual harassment allegations. 

He later joined the Trump White House in July 2018 but left after less than a year.

Originally, NewsNation was the name of just the evening news show on WGN America. On March 1, Nexstar renamed all of WGN America NewsNation.

NewsNation’s journalism began to garner national attention late last September, when one of its anchors, Joe Donlon interviewed then President Trump. The interview was critiqued as being too friendly to Trump by staffers, the Times said, as well as Chicago TV critic Steve Johnson.

The tenor of the interview seemed to contradict NewsNation’s commitment to unbiased reporting made in NewsNation PR pitches, promotional copy on parent company Nexstar Media Group’s website, and statements made by Nexstar executive Sean Compton as NewsNation was being launched.

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