ABC News is once again under fire for financially accommodating a news source — in this case paying for plane tickets to and from Florida.
Philly.com reports ABC paid for a coach class ticket for Anthony Rakoczy to Florida to claim his daughter Julia. The network also paid for two tickets for their return. An ABC News producer and crew accompanied Rakoczy on both legs.
In what was part of an elaborate hoax, Julia Rakoczy was taken to Disney World by her mother Bonnie Sweeten. Sweeten was in a Florida court this morning where she waived extradition and could be headed back to Philadelphia today.
The payment for the flight was disclosed on Nightline last night and on Good Morning America this morning. The shows also labeled the reunion with family back in Pennsylvania as “Exclusive.” According to ABC, Rakoczy chose to avoid other reporters because he felt overwhelmed by the crush of interview requests, not because he was paid to avoid them.
An ABC News spokesman denied this was a quid-pro-quo arrangement and told the Philly News, “ABC News does not pay for interviews.”
A similar situation happened in December when ABC News paid for a three-night hotel stay at a Central Florida Ritz-Carlton for the grandparents of murdered toddler Caylee Anthony. In that case, ABC did not get an interview with the Anthonys.