Station disputes allegation
November 01, 2010
In what is described as an apparent accidental voice mail message left on the cell phone of Joe Miller’s spokesperson, Randy DeSoto, what is believed to be the news director for CBS Anchorage affiliate KTVA, along with assignment editor Nick McDermott, and other reporters, openly discuss creating, if not fabricating, two stories about Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Joe Miller. The voice mail message was later authenticated by Mr. McDermott, who sent a text to DeSoto stating “Damn iPhone … I left you a long message. I thought I hung up. Sorry.”
“Frankly, when I first heard this I was shocked,” said DeSoto. “Though a bit garbled at times, there are disturbing comments in this conservation that never should have occurred.”
A press release issued Saturday October 30, 2010, by the Joe Miller campaign claimed in the first discussion, the Anchorage-based KTVA reporters discussed getting a list of Miller campaign supporters in order to ‘find’ a “child molester.” “You have to find that one person,” says the male reporter, to laughter in the news room. The reporters at KTVA then discussed creating a “Rand Paul” incident at the then upcoming Miller Rally (held on October 28, 2010) and hoping for violence so that they can “send out a tweet” and “Facebook” that “Miller got punched” at the rally.
In a prepared statement, KTVA General Manager Jerry Bever says, "It's unfortunate that this recording has happened. It's unfortunate because it does not accurately reflect the journalistic standards of our newsroom and the garbled context will no doubt leave more questions than answers. The Miller campaign's analysis of the recording is incorrect in many material ways ranging from personnel involved in the conversation, the interpretation of conversation snippets and the reported transcript of the perceived garbled conversation."
"While the recording is real, the allegations are untrue," said Bever. "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."
Bever continues, "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."
While Bever would not discuss any personnel issues linked with the recording, Bever says "Have we had internal discussions about the level of professionalism we need to bring to our conversations, internally and externally? Of course we have, this is a lesson to learn from."
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