The Scoop: Radio host resigns after using campaign-provided questions in Biden interview

Plus: CNN to lay off 100 workers; Amazon accused of greenwashing.

A radio host has resigned after she asked questions provided by the president's campaign team.

A Philadelphia radio host who scored the first post-debate interview with President Joe Biden has now resigned after admitting she used questions provided by the Biden campaign.

Andrea Lawful-Sanders, former host of “The Source” on WURD Radio, acknowledged in an interview that she received the questions from the Biden campaign for “approval.”

“I got several questions, eight of them, and the four that were chosen were the ones that I approved,” she said, according to NPR.

Another Black radio host who interviewed Biden also said he was provided a list of questions to ask the president.



“We do not condition interviews on acceptance of these questions, and hosts are always free to ask the questions they think will best inform their listeners,” Biden campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt told NPR.

But WURD Radio said the use of those questions was a breach of their journalistic ethics.

“The interview featured pre-determined questions provided by the White House, which violates our practice of remaining an independent media outlet accountable to our listeners,” WURD Radio President and CEO Sara Lomax wrote in a statement. “As a result, Ms. Lawful-Sanders and WURD Radio have mutually agreed to part ways, effective immediately.”

Why it matters: This is a complex situation, but it shows just how consequential the actions of PR professionals can be. Ultimately, the hosts are responsible for their own ethical obligations. But the temptation to speak to the most powerful man in the world can be heavy.

Earl Ingram, the other Black radio host who interviewed the president, said he was given a list of four questions to ask the president and that, “there was no back and forth.” He ultimately accepted because it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

A source in the Biden campaign has since said they will stop providing suggested questions in advance. But the damage has been done: a woman has lost her job and the positive PR that the media appearances were meant to provide are gone.

Often, PR professionals might think that it “can’t hurt” to do something. It can’t hurt to send suggested questions. It can’t hurt to ask to review an article before it’s published.

But as this case demonstrates, it can hurt. It can negatively impact both media partners as well as clients’ credibility.

Tread lightly.

Editor’s Top Reads:

  • CNN has announced it will lay off 100 of its 3,500 employees, the Wall Street Journal reported. These cuts will come from across the organization, so it’s unclear exactly how many will come from journalists versus other workers. The reorganization is part of a broader shift to combine television and digital news operations as its broadcast fortunes continue to decline. CEO Mark Thompson, who previously helmed the New York Times, left the door open to the possibility of introducing digital subscription bundles, like those seen at the Times. Any loss of jobs in the news industry is another blow to PR professionals, and the possibility of more news going behind a paywall is never an attractive one, either. PR pros will have to be more creative and more impactful to get their clients noticed.
  • The headline on The New York Times story seems positive at first glance: “Amazon Says It Reached a Climate Goal Seven Years Early.” But digging past that headline reveals a story rife with accusations from activists and even employees that Amazon is engaged in greenwashing to achieve that feel-good press release. Amazon says it’s achieved its goal of using 100% clean energy early by building wind and solar farms, but critics say that energy is actually sent back to the grid rather than being used to specifically power Amazon facilities, creating a misleading impression. The bottom line is that green promises are being closely scrutinized. Every promise needs to be backed up – and even good news can need a crisis plan.
  • A CNN investigation is creating a true crisis for Airbnb, diving deep into the vacation rental company’s issues with property owners hiding cameras in bathrooms and bedrooms in rentals. While that was always forbidden by Airbnb rules, and indoor cameras are now banned altogether, the story paints a damning picture of a company covering up thousands of cases and failing to report incidents to law enforcement – even when the cameras captured images of children. Fellow rental company Vrbo also faced accusations, but major player Airbnb got the headline. This will only deepen Airbnb’s troubles at a time when many localities are cracking down on short-term rentals and guests are pushing back against onerous cleaning policies. Responding clearly, decisively and compassionately will be key.

Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on or LinkedIn.


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