By Eric Longabardi
Bob Woodruff is the former anchor of the ABC News evening newscast "World News Tonight" and he still is one of the network's top correspondents. His reporting focuses on a number of areas, environmental issues are a claimed speciality of his. Woodward's career which began in 1996 with ABC News, is a long and award-winning one.
The Enterprise Report has learned that Mr. Woodruff has been violating ABC News ethical and journalistic standards for years and has been allowed to do so by his employer with impunity, until we started asking questions.
Woodruff has been contributing money, helping raise funds and promoting an environmental advocacy group, all in direct violation of ABC News journalistic guidelines. According to ABC News, Mr. Woodruff's actions are in violation of the company's standards policies and ABC has told The Enterprise Report it will take "appropriate disciplinary action" for his not reporting his advocacy activities to them. That is, until they were brought to ABC's attention by The Enterprise Report.
ABC News further also told TER that if Mr. Woodruff had asked for approval for his environmental advocacy, he would have not been permitted to do so because ABC's standards department would have declined him permission to so.
Mr. Woodruff's sustained a severe head injury in January 2006 while serving as an embedded reporter in Iraq. His courage and recovery from that traumatic injury will always be remembered as a story of courage. Mr Woodruff, after a long recovery finally returned to work with ABC News in 2007, just over a year after he was nearly killed in Iraq.
When he returned to ABC News, he was assigned a position as the host and lead correspondent for the Discovery Channel's "Focus Earth," an ABC News-produced eco-program focusing on environmental stories. In this capacity Mr. Woodruff reported directly on environmental issues for the news network and it's companion TV network "Planet Green"
The Enterprise Report has learned that Mr. Woodruff has for at least five years directly associated his name and his ABC News affiliation with an annual charity event that has raised millions of dollars for the advocacy group Waterkeeper Alliance headed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Even worse, Mr. Woodruff didn't disclose those conflicts of interest when he reported on the group's actions on his Discovery Channel program about the Hudson River and objectively featured Mr. Kennedy and his personal efforts on behalf of the environmental advocacy organization. It would seem Mr. Woodruff's personal political causes are interfering with any sembelance of objectivity he claims to have maintained as a profession journalist.
The group's big charity fundraiser, is called the Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest, and it is the Waterkeeper Alliance's primary fundraiser every year. A press release for last year's event states the event raised $500K for Mr. Kennedy's group. Included in the press release is a list of Hollywood celebrities who attended the weekend auction and the post 5-star event and their entertaiment business affiliation. Listed among the actors and other notables and their show business affiliations is Bob Woodruff's name with his official "ABC News" designation.
It is clear Mr. Woodruff long ago stopped covering this environmental group, he has long been an active part of it.
Woodruff's involvement and conflict with Waterkeeper Alliance doesn't end with just his participation in the event. The Enterprise Report has also learned that Mr. Woodruff's parricipation at the weekend-long ski event was entirely comped. As a journalist assigned to report on environmental issues for ABC News, Woodruff is suppose to be an objective observer of the group. When he is receiving thousands of dollars in perks at a luxury resort like Deer Valley it seems that the notion of "journalistic objectivity" has long been dispensed with. Mr. Woodruff's employer. ABC News now agrees.
TER publisher/reporter Eric Longabard is a longtime Independent Producer and Investigative Journalist. Longabardi has worked extensively with ABC NEWS for years. After trying to reach Mr. Woodruff directly for days, he then contacted ABC and was responded to by VP of Communications, Cathie Levine. Longabardi asked Ms. Levin whether Mr. Woodruff's participation in the Waterkeeper's charity auction was indeed a violation of ABC News' journalistic standards among other questions. It took two days to get an answer. Mr. Woodruff has never responded to four simple question sent by Mr. Longabardi prior to that.
Ms. Levine first told TER that Mr. Woodruff has a family connection to the ski event that pre-dates Waterkeepers involvement as the beneficiary, but she later acknowledged that contributing money too and lending his name and his association to ABC News constituted a violation of the network's standard policy and the company will take "appropriate disciplinary action" for Mr. Woodruff's actions. Ms. Levine refused to comment on exactly what action will be taken, citing the company's policy of not discussing "personnel matters".
During the course of TER's investigation we also learned that Mr. Woodruff was directly donating money to Waterkeeper Aliiance by purchasing an item at the 2010 auction, but the item itself has not yet been disclosed by ABC or Woodruff . This was not your local bake sale or charity car wash for sure, the auction featured items valued in the tens of thouands of dollars and even a $100,000 trip to a private island in Fiji accompanied by RFK Jr., himself. In years past auction items have included a new Lexus car and other very pricey items.
ABC News' produced "Focus Earth" show went off the air just over a year ago. Mr. Woodruff's reporting for the program coincides with his Waterkeeper Alliances affiliation with the Celebrity Skifest, which Mr. Woodruff has been involved for many years. According to Mr. Kennedy, last year's event raised 20% of the group's operating budget. The presence of a legitimate and respected news personality affiliated with the advocacy group's fundraiser certainly added to the advocacy groups credibility and legitimacy for the event. If not, I doesn't make sense for Kennedy's Waterkeeper Alliance to have sent out a press release touting Mr. Woodruff's participation?
Mr. Woodruff has made no secret of his environmental views. In an interview with The Daily Green, the "eco-warrier" (as he was described by the Daily Green reporter) goes on at length about his opinions of the US environmental policies; he praises the Obama Administration's green jobs programs in the stimulus package, and he bashes the Bush Administration's climate change position. But remember, this interview was given while he was an anchor and reporter for a show produced by ABC News. His objectivity with regard to environmental reporting appears to be non-existent. Given that, it seems a tad amusing to see ABC News acting shocked that Mr. Woodruff would so deeply involve himself with an environmental advocacy group for so many years.