The Moral Bankruptcy of Access Journalism

Matthew G. Saroff
3 min readMar 31, 2022


I get it. Every journalist who has graduated from journalism school since 1977 has wanted to be in an underground parking lot interviewing Mark Felt.

The problem is that it produces really crappy journalism, and leads reporters, and editors, to do REALLY stupid things as “Beat Sweeteners”.

At CBS, senior (mis)management has decided to hire Mick Mulvaney’s as a talking head, because they think that they will need Republican good will to get stories when they take over the House and Senate next year.

So, they are bringing in someone who has blithely and repeatedly lied to the press, and paying him a salary, because they fear that Republicans won’t talk to them otherwise.

It appears that CBS News’s co-president Neeraj Khemlani does not understand that if you practice this sort of journalism, they talk to you because it serves their needs, and not that of the 5th estate.

CBS News’s decision to hire former Trump administration official Mick Mulvaney as a paid on-air contributor is drawing backlash within the company because of his history of bashing the press and promoting the former president’s fact-free claims.

But a top network executive seemed to lay the groundwork for the decision in a staff meeting earlier this month, when he said the network needed to hire more Republicans to prepare for a “likely” Democratic midterm wipeout.

“If you look at some of the people that we’ve been hiring on a contributor basis, being able to make sure that we are getting access to both sides of the aisle is a priority because we know the Republicans are going to take over, most likely, in the midterms,” CBS News’s co-president Neeraj Khemlani told the staff of the network’s morning show, according to a recording of his comments obtained by The Washington Post. “A lot of the people that we’re bringing in are helping us in terms of access to that side of the equation.


In February 2020, while serving as President Donald Trump’s interim chief of staff, Mulvaney said that media coverage of the growing coronavirus pandemicwas meant “to bring down the president.” He also infamously defended a Trump administration decision to withhold military aid from Ukrainefor political purposes, and predicted in a Nov. 7, 2020, Wall Street Journal opinion column that Trump would gracefully accept electoral defeat.

“I know everyone I talked to today was embarrassed about the hiring,” said a CBS News employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment. The frustration, this person said, was less about Mulvaney’s high-ranking role in the Trump administration and more about the inaccuracy of some of his past comments.”

It appears that William Lumbergh is prowling the halls at 530 W. 57th Street.



Matthew G. Saroff

Husband, father, pinko, slave to cats