NBC News Paid for Hotel Room for Today Show Guest Derick Almena

By A.J. Katz 

NBC News paid for a hotel room for the manager of the so-called Oakland Ghost Ship, where a fire Friday night killed 36 people, the East Bay Express reports.

Almena was a guest on the Today show Tuesday morning. An NBC News spokesperson tells TVNewser the network did provide a hotel room at the Oakland Marriott City Center for Almena, his wife Micah Allison and their children Monday night. A stay there ranges between $149 and $339 a night.

“This is standard TV booking procedure,” a spokesperson told the Express. But that’s not exactly true. If a guest is flown to New York and expected to be on a show at a certain time, then yes, it’s standard to accommodate the guest. But anytime a news organization pays for a meal, a gift, or a hotel room hours before that person—in this case a crucial subject of a breaking news story—is expected to turn up for a live, early morning interview then it’s fair to question the news organization’s motives. Almena’s only national TV interview that morning was with the Today show.

Back in 2010, ABC News changed its policy regarding such offers after it was revealed the network spent upwards of $200,000 to the family of murder suspect Casey Anthony, which included a three-night stay at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel for her parents.