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June 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The ethics of paying sources for stories came under renewed scrutiny over the weekend when 20/20 co-anchor Chris Cuomo confirmed that he had arranged for Meagan Broussard to receive $15,000 ostensibly for photos that were used in his exclusive interview with her about her relationship with Congressman Anthony Weiner. Interviewed by Howard Kurtz on CNN’s Reliable Sources Sunday, Cuomo took responsibility for the payment. “The commercial exigencies of the business reach into every aspect of reporting now,” Cuomo said. “It is my decision. I’m the anchor of 20/20. I could have said, ‘Don’t do it.’ I don’t because it is the state of play right now. I wish it were not. I wish money was not in the game. But you know, it’s going to go somewhere else. You know someone else is going to pay for the same things.” Commenting on Cuomo’s remarks, Julie Moos, who oversees the Poynter Institute’s website, said, “This ‘state of play’ defense argues that it’s justifiable to pay sources because the competition is paying them. By that logic, competitive advantage trumps ethics.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reported on Sunday that although ABC has maintained that it did not pay Jaycee Lee Dugard, the woman held captive for 18 years, for an interview, it had, according to an ABC News executive, paid a six-figure sum for rights to her home movies.”