Having left a message for Joe Miller’s campaign spokesman, an assignment editor from the CBS affiliate in Alaska had one of those equipment malfunctions that has contributed so much to the entertainment value of this election season. While his phone remained connected to voicemail, he joined his colleagues in a conversation that is suggestive of skullduggery against Miller:
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.
Big Journalism comments that the reporters were conspiring to set up some type of smear of Joe Miller. “With glee, they even cite a recent controversy over an incident involving the Rand Paul campaign, while discussing how they would spread the story via social media after whatever incident they had in mind came off.”
I’m not sure what to make of the conversational fragment the Miller campaign has released — we’re clearly in the middle of things — but the statement released by the CBS affiliate makes no sense:
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.”
I can’t do better than Ed Morrissey:
KTVA’s explanation is absurd. What possible context can they put around the suggestion that they start looking for child molesters at a political rally in order to exploit that for their television coverage? That’s a “potential what-if scenario”?
Yeah, thanks for clearing that up.