Sucking Cox

Word is that KSL (Salt Lake City) has such a cozy relationship with Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who is running for governor, that he has badge to enter KSL’s newsroom when he wants.

The station has also partnered with him to host a podcast on the station’s website that is cutely named “Cox & Friends.”


Utah Policy reports that KSL is still distributing and promoting Cox’s podcast even though he’s a declared candidate for governor in 2020. Cox is unabashedly discussing his campaign on the podcast. For instance, Cox spent the first segment of his June 11 episode recapping his campaign kickoff efforts.

KSL says they don’t see a conflict between Cox hosting a podcast on their platform and his bid for the state’s top job next year.

“Cox and Friends is not a news product,” says Sheryl Worsley, Director of Audience Development for Bonneville Salt Lake, the parent company for KSL. “It is not produced by KSL NewsRadio or KSL TV news. We have a separate digital/podcast division within Bonneville Salt Lake.”

“That does present a bit of a pause,” says Jean Norman, Assistant professor of communications at Weber State University. “Having this affiliation with a major media organization is a big advantage for him. It may not be an endorsement of his candidacy, but it lives on their website right under the logo.”

Both Cox and his chief of Staff, Kirsten Rappleye have been given security badges allowing them access to the KSL studios that are normally off-limits to the public. Worsley said this is a common arrangement they have with non-employees who produce podcast content for the company.

“We do not discuss security, but I can tell you several contributors from multiple podcasts have badge access to the building,” she said.

Several Republicans involved in Utah state government say Cox and Rappleye possessing a security badge is troubling.

“It’s definitely weird. I can say I’ve never seen anything like it,” said one prominent state employee who was granted anonymity as they feared reprisal for commenting on Cox’s outside project.

“The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics clearly says journalists should avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. KSL is a big newsroom, and I doubt this affiliation will compromise their ability to cover Cox fairly,” said Norman.

Worsley did not respond to a question whether KSL would afford one of Cox’s opponents, or any other political candidate, a similar opportunity to produce a podcast promoting their campaign.

And the line gets blurred even more.