Sunday, October 31, 2010

KTVA Channel 11 Conditionally Denies Conspiring Against Senate Candidate Joe Miller, Claims Remarks Were "Out Of Context"; Massive Public Backlash Against KTVA

KTVA Channel 11 has wasted little time in confronting and addressing accusations that a couple of their reporters engaged in conversations making it appear that they were conspiring to smear Alaska Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller. Because the allegations are serious, KTVA's response warrants a separate, stand-alone post.

To their credit, KTVA has posted their response prominently on the main page of their website. KTVA General Manager Jerry Bever authored their statement, and while he acknowledges the recording is true, he denies the allegation. The part of the statement contained in quotes is cross-posted below:

"While the recording is real, the allegations are untrue...The recording was the result of a cell phone not being hung up after a call was placed to Randy DeSoto, Joe Miller campaign spokesperson, Thursday afternoon to discuss Joe Miller's appearance on that evening's newscast. That phone call was placed near the end of a coverage planning meeting in our newsroom regarding that evening's Miller rally in downtown Anchorage. The group of KTVA news personnel was reviewing potential "what-if" scenarios, discussing the likelihood of events at the rally and how KTVA might logistically disseminate any breaking news."

"The perception that this garbled, out of context recording may leave is unfortunate, but to allege that our staff was discussing or planning to create or fabricate stories regarding candidate Miller is absurd. The complete conversation was about what others might be able to do to cause disruption within the Miller campaign, not what KTVA could do."

When this incident became public, the Miller campaign issued the following statement: "Now the media has gone from trying to create stories to openly lying. The audio was pulled directly from the voicemail message. Nothing was altered. 'Everything that was recorded on my phone is what we released without change', said Randy Desoto".

Bever goes on to say that this incident has triggered internal discussions regarding the professionalism of conversations, and will treat it as a lesson learned. Update November 2nd: KTVA Channel 11 has fired two of their producers as a result of this incident.

But while KTVA has promptly taken ownership and responsibility for their role as the catalyst, it appears to be conditional. The implicit message gleaned from the statement is that they're also blaming the Miller campaign for over-reaction and misinterpretation, and the statement that their reporters were merely gaming possible scenarios does seem a bit lame. It reminds me somewhat of a rapist who blames the rape victim for wearing too short of a skirt. Nevertheless, Bever's statement is a welcome first step towards repairing their tarnished credibility.

But many are not inclined to forgive. As of this post, there are 203 comments posted to the story, and many continue to harshly criticize the station. One commenter even posted the home address of reporter Andrea Gusty (which I will not post here). Some of the more prominent and literate examples:

tcn 2 hours ago:
If you are so upstanding and moral, then apologize for your mistake, reprimand and demote the offenders and issue a true apology on the air making clear your past bias and promise to report the news rather than your obviously biased opinions disguised as news...

Guest 2 hours ago:
Nice try attempting to explain this one, sorry KTVA the truth is out but we had already known, disgusting! And I now more than ever dead set on voting for Miller.

novaculus 2 hours ago:
Bever is apparently every bit as stupid as the fools who can't hang up the phone and record their nefarious plans on their enemy's voicemail.

Here is a clue, Bever. You should have checked the tape yourself before regurgitating the BS the guilty parties told you. Listen to the tape, read the transcript and there is NO WAY your lying excuses hold water. Now you are shown to be just as stupid and corrupt as they are.

You could have denounced this vile and unprofessional conduct and protected the station (and covered your behind, too). Instead you doubled down on stupid and corrupt. I'm going to enjoy watching your organization implode.

The management and reporters of KTVA are showing their true bias behavior and trying to portray it as "reporting". More telling, the management and reporters are revealing their true personal character.

Rick Raef 1 hour ago:
And you guys at KTVA consider yourselves to be "professionals" or even "journalists"?

I don't think your reporters have a clue as to how their involvement in this is going to haunt their career for an extremely long time. And I think the station is soon going to experience a severe drop in advertising revenue when sponsors realize that KTVA is not a legitimate news organization but a unprofessional collection of rank amateurs managed by an even more inept management structure that has completely lost focus of any sense of professional right or wrong. As usual I would expect that none of the so called reporters would have the backbone or courage to come forth and reveal who they are and offer an apology, and I would expect that the spineless managers would not hold them accountable for their obvious juvenile and unprofessional behavior. These people should be fired, but it is likely a cold day in hell when that will happen

I look forward to watching the advertising community send KTVA a strong message about the inappropriateness of this incident by immediately withholding their advertising dollars and making the CBS network, KTVA and its reporters and management irrelevant in the local broadcast market.

A number of commenters recommend filing an FCC complaint against KTVA HERE. Other suggestions put forth:

-- The number to reach a KTVA staff member, not a recording, is: 907-273-3186.

-- Email Jerry Bever at and Laurie Bruce General Sales Mgr at and Shelley Byrd the Marketing Director at and Business Manager Susan Sinclair at to let them know that this election is about the fact that "WE'RE NOT AS STUPID AS THEY THINK".

Outsider pundits continuing to fuel the growing backlash against KTVA include Conservatives4Palin, Hot Air, Mediaite, and RiehlWorldView. Even Stormfront has jumped into the fray.

KTVA has a LONG way to go before they can rebuild their tattered credibility.

1 comment:

  1. And there is a bridge for sale.....

    Anyone who believes Bever's statement needs a sharp pin to the backside!

    The appropriate and only response should have been, "All who participated in the discussion have been fired and will not be re-hired."