Contributor Tobin Smith is defending himself following his dismissal as a Fox News and Fox Business analyst.
“I am no longer a Fox contributor,” he writes on his NBT Equities Research. “I thank them for a 14 year run… but all good things come to an end.”
Smith was shown the door late yesterday following a MarketWatch.com story about conflicts of interest. Smith made $50,000 for pushing a particular stock via email, often called Sponsored Research. But it leaves the impression on Fox viewers that Smith recommends the stock of Petrosonic, an energy company. (The stock is down -23% this morning). But Smith writes that he, “NEVER EVER mentioned Petrosonic on ANY appearance on Fox News or Fox Business News.”
Smith is not be alone, however. While $50,000 to tout one stock is a whopper of a payout, equity analysts, as one-off guests or paid contributors, are the lifeblood of the business networks. Viewers expect it. Producers need it. Networks have disclosures and policies in place for such circumstances whether you’re a guest or host. FBN’s goes like this:
“No Contributor to FBN, nor his/her firm, and/or family members are allowed to accept financial consideration of any kind whatsoever to issue research, advertisements, or to otherwise promote individual stocks or securities.”
But Smith argues that clause was not part of his Fox deal: “For the record, my last contributor agreement with Fox News did NOT include any exclusion from me or my company sponsored research.”
So is Fox making an example out of Tobin Smith? And how many Tobin Smiths are out there?