Media executive donation questioned as bias toward Republicans

By Dawn Geske | Aug 4, 2016

Media executive’s donation to Republican Governors Association is being questioned by the West Virginia Democratic party.

CHARLESTON — A media executive’s donation to Republican Governors Association (RGA) is being questioned by the West Virginia Democratic party.

President and CEO of West Virginia Media Holdings, Bray Cary, made a significant contribution to the Republican Governors Association in the amount of $250,000. This has raised concerns by the West Virginia’s Democratic party as Cary is a public figure and in the media spotlight.

Cary is the host of a TV show, "Decision Makers," on his network of television stations across the state. On the show, he frequently discusses electoral races such as the governor’s race, which includes candidates Jim Justice (Democrat) and Bill Cole (Republican). Cole has appeared on the show a number of times.

The donation that Cary made is being questioned because it shows that he favors the Republican party, when in his position he is expected to remain somewhat impartial. Also of concern is the host's ability to sway audiences by his actions, showing an endorsement for one party over another.

Concerns are also being raised about the fairness in attention given to candidates, as equal time and coverage must be given to candidates during the election period. Cary’s donation is raising eyebrows in his fairness toward the Democratic party.

In response to the donation by Cary, the West Virginia’s Democratic party, along with the West Virginia AFL-CIO, has called for a ban on Cary discussing the governor’s election on the show or on air in any form. According to a statement put out by the Democratic Governors Association, over the course of four weeks, Cary had 10 GOP officials on the show and only one appearance by a Democrat, which the group said shows extreme bias by Cary.

Another suggestion has been provided by Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who thinks Cary should donate $250,000 to the Democratic Governors Association to show equality among the parties.

The Republican Governors Association has shown strong support for Bill Cole in the state’s governor’s election, pumping $1.1 million into his campaign.

“We are very appreciative of the commitment by RGA donors to help elect Republican governors so they can reform the states with conservative, pro-growth policies,” Jon Thompson, a spokesperson for the Republican Governors Association, told The West Virginia Record.

Since the incident, the West Virginia Democratic Party has released a statement urging businesses not to advertise with Cary or the show. Further boycotting the show, it has also strongly recommended that members of the Democratic Party don’t appear on the show. It is also asking the media house to disclose any other donations made by Cary to the Republican party.

“It’s now crystal clear that Bray Cary’s show is nothing more than a platform to promote Bill Cole,” Brittni McGuire, spokesperson for the West Virginia Democratic Party, said. “Cary’s contribution to Cole tainted what little credibility he had left. Cary and the station executives need to know that such blatant bias on the airwaves will have consequences.”

Cary failed to respond for comment when contacted about the donation. Cole’s campaign didn’t respond as well.

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