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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Achorage CBS Affiliate Conspiring to Manufacture News To Influence Election? UPDATE KTVA Admits To Call, Denies Interpretation

If this proves to be true it will be one of the major media/ CBS scandals to rock the 2010 midterm elections.

Headline: "Anchorage CBS Affiliate Caught on Voicemail Conspiring Against Alaska's GOP Senate Candidate."

The following voice mail message was inadvertently left on the cell phone of Joe Miller campaign spokesperson Randy DeSoto.

The voices are believed to be those of the news director for CBS Anchorage affiliate KTVA, along with assignment editor Nick McDermott, and other reporters, openly discussing creating, if not fabricating, two stories about Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Joe Miller.

The following is a transcript of a call recorded after CBS Alaska affiliate KTVA called Joe Miller’s Senate campaign spokesperson. The call failed to disconnect properly. It was later authenticated by McDermott, who sent a text to Randy DeSoto stating, “Damn iPhone… I left you a long message. I thought I hung up. Sorry.”

There is a transcript of the call provided of the YouTube audio above.

Hot Air's Ed Morrissey has a request in to Nick McDermott and news director Staci Feger asking for confirmation and comment and will update their post with any response they get.

Miller's website issues a press release:

Anchorage, Alaska. October 30, 2010 – In 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.”

In the first discussion, the KTVA reporters discuss 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 discuss 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.

Attached is a transcript of the conversation from KTVA reporters.

Here is a link to the audio where you can hear the discussion

Sarah Palin calls them "corrupt bastards", via twitter.

Palin also discusses this in an interview, via Right Scoop, shown below.

Via the Contact page for KTVA, the information should readers wish to contact the station itself to ask for answers about their alleged deliberate collaboration to manufacture news to influence the Alaska election.

Alaska Broadcasting Company, Inc

1007 W. 32nd Avenue
Anchorage, Alaska 99503
Phone: 907-273-3192
Fax: 907-273-3189

Sales and Administration Office
3330 Arctic Boulevard, Suite 206
Anchorage, Alaska 99503
Phone: 907-646-2100
Fax: 907-646-2166

Vice President & General Manager: Jerry Bever

General Sales Manager: Laurie Bruce

Marketing Director: Shelley Byrd

Business Manager: Susan Sinclair

Programming Manager: Cyd Terhune

Traffic Manager: Monica Bouvier

Operations Manager: Bush Houston

Manager of Information Systems: John Berglin

News Department

1007 West 32nd Avenue
Anchorage, Alaska 99503
Phone: 907-273-3186
Fax: 907-273-3188

News Director: Staci Feger

Assistant News Director: MJ Thim

Assignment Manager: Nick McDermott

Executive Producer: Carolyn Kuckertz

Web Producer: Colleen Kelly

[Update] CBS Affiliate releases a statement denying the allegations, reported by The Politico, while admitting the call was real and originating from KTVA .

A press release issued Saturday October 30, 2010, by the Joe Miller campaign claims that KTVA personnel, "openly discuss creating, if not fabricating, two stories about Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Joe Miller." 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."

Not looking good for KTVA at this point.

Back to the transcript which shows how weak an argument KTVA provides:(H/T Hot Air)

FEMALE REPORTER: That’s up to you because you’re the expert, but that’s what I would do…I’d wait until you see who showed up because that indicates we already know something…
FEMALE REPORTER: Child molesters…
MALE REPORTER: Oh yeah… can you repeat Joe Miller’s…uh… list of people, campaign workers, which one’s the molester?
FEMALE VOICE: We know that out of all the people that will show up tonight, at least one of them will be a registered sex offender.
MALE REPORTER: You have to find that one person…
FEMALE REPORTER: And the one thing we can do is ….we won’t know….we won’t know but if there is any sort of chaos whatsoever we can put out a twitter/facebook alert: saying what the… ‘Hey Joe Miller punched at rally.’
FEMALE REPORTER: Kinda like Rand Paul…I like that.
FEMALE REPORTER: That’s a good one.

They are going to have to do better than saying it is a matter of interpretation.

(Minor adjustments made to this post)