Weinergate: The Price of a Scoop

How much did ABC pay for the exclusive?

Last week, ABC News interviewed Meagan Broussard, making her one of the most visible women of the "Weiner 6." The interview was a scoop for the network and early reports from ABC said simply that the exclusive was made possible by Andrew Breitbart, the conservative blogger who first broke the Weiner story, who "shared her identity with ABC News."

But having Broussard's identity is not enough to secure an interview. As is increasingly the practice in ratings-seeking journalism, ABC was prepared to offer Broussard more than just a chance to shake the hand of 20/20 co-anchor Chris Cuomo in exchange for her story.

In an interview with CNN’s Howard Kurtz, Cuomo confirmed that the network paid Broussard $10,000-$15,000 for the photos that she received in her online exchanges with Weiner. The photos became part of the interview Cuomo conducted, as he showed them to Broussard in order for her to react on camera. They were also featured on the ABC News website.

The move was more something you’d expect from TMZ than ABC, but Cuomo defended the purchase. He said that the network was simply keeping up with the "state of play" with competitors that are employing equally questionable tactics. To say that the purchase was made in order to stay competitive is not necessarily admirable, but at least logical. However, some of Cuomo’s other justifications are a bit thin.

The anchor went on to say that the purchase was justified because ABC "needed" the photos in order to properly tell the story. But with many of the now infamous images already swirling around the Internet, was that really necessary? It seems as if it was rather Broussard and the access she granted to her emails, Facebook messages, and cell phone call logs that they were after.

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