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CITIZEN COMMENTS ON SAM REED vs. KIRO7 COMPLAINT

(NOTE: The following people voted and commented in the WNC’s “virtual hearing” as part of a Citizens Online News Council. Identifications are included when known.)

This station does not care. They have some outstanding people on the air like Steve Raible and others. This is one reporter and one news director I am making a criticism about….A hurtful and stupid example of a bad performance by a reporter who carries the mantle of public trust. The reporter failed and so did the news director who must have been asleep at the wheel as they say….KIRO TV News Director, Reporter, and General Manager should come clean and be a good example by admitting that a journalist made a mistake...a big scam of a mistake.
            -- Ken Hatch, former president, KIRO TV, and founding board member, WNC

Given the hypersensitivity of Washington state voters following the 2004 Gubernatorial election recounts and lawsuits, KIRO knew full well how volatile the topic was. The election-eve timing of the report and the unwillingness to do better fact-checking or to include rebutting comments from state officials leaves one to seriously question their sense of responsibility for fair or accurate reporting.
            --- Gary Smith, principal, Smith and Stark

It was sad that KIRO did not learn from the earlier incident which had many of the same flaws.They do many positive things but these incidents harm their credibility which is ultimately their most precious asset.
            -- Bob Utter, former Chief Justice, Washington State Supreme Court and former chairman, WNC

KIRO should be forced to retract the story, admit wrongdoing and do so each day for a month on all the news shows
            -- Elwood Hertzog

Your intent to have this case used in "mock trials" at high schools and colleges is tremendous. It will be as effective as the Oriental method of drip water torture on KIRO.
            -- Joseph Putnam

This case deserves coverage in media journals to show how careless coverage easily misleads.
            -- Arnold Ismach, former dean, University of Oregon Journalism School

KIRO was clearly cautioned about checking its facts, but seemed more driven by getting a sensational story than by being accurate….In all media companies, the CEO is the ultimate custodian of the company's image for truth, accuracy and integrity. And for whatever incomprehensible reason, KIRO's management has chosen to delegate the future of its news business to an inept employee protected by the immediate superior whose only gain is in protecting the employee he supported and put on the street. The most grievous and unfathomable ineptitude is that of management, which thus put its stamp of approval on this unacceptable display of "journalism."
            -- Mike Flynn, former publisher, Puget Sound Business Journal

This story is totally backwards. Even if the information is correct, Washington's numbers are much lower than those of other areas given in the story. Washington appears to be doing very well. Given that nothing is perfect, this should have been a story about the good job being done in Washington.
            -- Maureen Skowran, copy editor, Raleigh (NC) News & Observer

I watch KIRO/CBS most often of the major networks. This story, and more importantly how KIRO handled the complaint by Sec of State Reed is very troubling and has hurt the credibility of KIRO's news department and management.
            -- Ronn Robinson

Cox Broadcasting should be ashamed of this and Chris Halsne is the worst reporter I have ever observed in nearly 50 years of being in or around the news business. I have no idea why so many otherwise decent people associate themselves with this dirtbag.
            -- Bob Royer, president, The Gallatin Group

This has damaged my ability to believe KIRO...their credibility has been damaged...Chris Halsne’s personality is much too negative to have this investigative role at the news station.
            --Wayne Gulla

We've stopped watching KIRO news.
            -- Clay Jackson

KIRO and other media should strive to present both sides of controversial stories and keep one sided opinions on the editorial page.
            -- Gene & Janet Dolan

I no longer watch KIRO-TV. In these times (nor at any time) we do not need news organizations intentionally distorting facts to make their purported investigations seem important.
            -- Gary Nichols

KIRO's behavior is dishonest and disgusting. KIRO has lost all credibility with me.
            -- Bruce Biermann

Like most of the sensational news the TV media thrives on publishing, the record can never be totally 'made right' for the objects of the story….Too bad that common sense is not common to some -- in this case both the reporter and station; from my point of view there is not another public official with the record of honesty and integrity shown by Sam Reed during his lifetime of public service; shame on KIRO for allowing a shadow to be cast on Sam Reed and his exemplary career and then failing to promptly retract the mis-statements contained therein!
            -- Phil Roe

This story with all its falsehoods was very damaging to the electoral process because it came after the very poor performance of King County elections staff in other recent elections.
            -- Paula Stewart

With the loss of a major print media (the P. I.) TV and radio news are going to have to put more effort into making sure that their facts are straight and accurate.
            -- Cal Hunziker

TV sensationalism serves no purpose, except maybe to temporarily inflate ratings. What's worse is KIRO’s failure to admit its errors.
            -- Andy Lund

Grossly inaccurate and misleading. KIRO's behavior is dishonest and disgusting. KIRO has lost all credibility with me.
            -- Bruce Biermann

It would appear KIRO was going for the sensational side of they story that would incite a particular block of voters who already hold a bias against the Secretary of State and his office. This is an injustice to the office of the Secretary of State, an affront to the voting and news-watching public, and certainly not journalism. Thank you for ferreting out the real story. I only wish the rest of KIRO's audience could know "the rest of the story."
            -- Renee Radcliff Sinclair

Very poor ethics on KIRO's part. Like most of the sensational news the TV media thrives on publishing, the record can never be totally “made right” for the objects of the story. Too bad that common sense is not common to some -- in this case both the reporter and station. From my point of view there is not another public official with the record of honesty and integrity shown by Sam Reed during his lifetime of public service; shame on KIRO for allowing a shadow to be cast on Sam Reed and his exemplary career and then failing to promptly retract the misstatements contained therein!
            -- Phil Roe

The news coverage was short on facts and accuracy. I rather think KIRO failed to do sufficient research. Remember the newsroom credo: “Your mother loves you. Check it!” KIRO damaged credibility of our election process and of government with shoddy and special interest reporting. KIRO did not do us proud! Nice service, Washington News Council!
            -- Sven Kalve

KIRO's conduct issuing these stories and its arrogance in refusing to retract them when confronted with overwhelming evidence that the stories were patently untrue has undermined my confidence in ALL local broadcast news reporting.  As Richard Nixon begat an entire generation of political cynics, KIRO risks destroying the credibility of all local broadcast news, especially news "reported" by KIRO.
            -- David Fennell

The stories were unconscionable lapses in basic journalistic fairness.
            -- Jim McEntire

The average informed voter struggles to understand the issues and the candidates.  Misinformation like this makes their struggle much more difficult….What a disgrace on the part of KIRO.
            -- Ramona Leber

KIRO should understand its business is to report the news, not manipulate the news to sell to viewers….All these misrepresentations are why I never watch KIRO
            -- Kathleen Benedict

Sadly, this is a commentary on the state of journalism.  Bad news, inflammatory news, will hold peoples prurient interest.  But KIRO wants to sell advertising, not report the truth!
            -- Richard Chubb

KIRO's credibility has been severely damaged by their unwillingness to correct these stories. Halsne should be fired.
            -- Bob Lovely 

That KIRO removed the story from their web amounts to retraction.
            -- John Niles, senior fellow, Discovery Institute

They should have done more research. I think they should make a public announcement that they were not accurate in their reporting and state the inaccuracies for all to see and hear.
            -- J. Huntley

The coverage was not fair and balanced. The coverage was misleading.
            -- Patrick Beehler

This was utterly amazing. It illustrates exactly why the data upon which they relied was utterly unreliable. This must be the most amazingly irresponsible story I've encountered.
            -- Jeff Even

Perhaps they need to spend a little more time on fact verification.
            -- John Mifflin

At best sloppy, but more likely biased sensationalism. Trust is everything in elections.
            -- Dale Miller

I believe that Secretary Reed's clarification of law indicates KIRO didn't tell the whole story. Secretary Reed wasn't given an opportunity to clarify, only a short sound bite.Even before reading Reed's response I questioned the methodology and lists used by KIRO. Bad data in means bad data out. These types of TV "investigative" reports are intended to raise ratings by inciting viewer outrage, not to legitimately investigate and inform about the true situation.
            -- Denny Fleenor

Shame on you KIRO -- I thought you had more integrity! You should pay a hefty fine or contribute $100,000 to the Heritage Center!
            -- Jan Britt

I don’t see how making up lies to broadcast is acting in the public’s best interest. Guilty.
            -- Aaron Schlosser

Rather typical sensationalized reporting.
            -- Gene Forrester

Why doesn't KIRO use its energies to investigate ACORN's perversion of the U.S. electoral process?
            -- Blair Thompson, communications director, Washington Dairy Products Commission

Now that the Washington News Council has shed light on the stories’ accuracy, we are angry with KIRO. This type of reporting is inexcusable; the public was deliberately misled at a time when emotions around these two issues were in hyper gear. Halsne, Mokhtari, and Benson should all be fired; Lerner should issue a public apology –- on air and in a media advisory. I will never trust KIRO, even if they do publicly apologize to the Secretary of State.
            -- Laura McCloud Mathers, communications director, Foster School of Business, University of Washington

KIRO gave in to a need to be sensational. They also damaged their own credibility and reputation. Pretty stupid.
            --Jay Leipham

It is irresponsible to use uncorroborated information to further damage the fragile confidence in the electoral process.
            -- Joan Kraft

They tried to capitalize on a citizen’s misunderstanding of her status, rather than conduct honest research. They seem to only be interested in sensationalized complaints about government, and to play on peoples' fears of wrongdoing, rather than honestly portraying the truth. I'm shocked to read that the voter's mother called the reporter's attention to the fact that her son had the same name as her husband, and the reporter ignored the facts, again to try to play on peoples' fears. I have yet to see a television "news" team recant an incorrect report. Printed media does this on a regular basis. Shameful! [KIRO] has done much harm to the television media as a news source. When will they realize they shoot themselves in the foot too?
            -- Marjorie Holden

While it may be true that the WNC can't force KIRO to change its ways, it would seem from these factually inaccurate, inflammatory and unbalanced news stories, that KIRO as a broadcast station is failing in its obligation to the public to keep us informed. Perhaps the FCC could have more of an impact the next time their broadcast license comes up for renewal.
            -- James H. Todd

Sam Reed is not a saint but this is smear tactics based upon false information.
            -- Raymond Borbon

KIRO 7 owes both the Secretary of State, the taxpayers and voters of Washington, and Tracy Joy Williamson an apology, and possibly restitution….It is possible that some of the errors were unintentional -- but KIRO 7 should be professional enough to double- and triple-check before airing the story, and to admit the error when it is pointed out! My tax dollars are being wasted by the Secretary of State's office having to go through this process.
            -- Kenneth C. Dawe

The news media frequently distorts facts and sensationalizes stories.  Omitting facts or blatantly lying isn't that uncommon.
            -- D. Amos 

The fact that KIRO refuses to defend its stories leads me to believe they know they are wrong.  Chris Halsne should probably be disciplined or fired.
            -- Janet Suppes

KIRO TV, as well as the other mainstream press, rarely, if ever, conduct themselves in a responsible and unbiased fashion….The mainstream media, by and large, never admit malfeasance or misfeasance, regardless of how blatant or grotesque. Recall the thoroughly debunked "stories" by Dan Rather.
            -- Charles Kindt

Thorough verification of ballots is the cornerstone of a responsible democratic voting system. HOWEVER, such an inquiry must be both complete in pursuing all available information and non-partisan in the way the facts are presented. KIRO's coverage was neither. The programs appeared instead to sensationalize the topic and mislead the viewers on an issue of major importance.
            -- Jacqueline King

Thanks to the Washington News Council for trying to keep the press honest and accurate. In a free society, accuracy of reporting and fairness of coverage is a necessity. Press responsibility and acknowledgment of mistakes will only add credibility to press coverage, and generate confidence in the news stories we read, see and hear.
            -- George Nethercutt, former U.S. Congressman

This is a vote against KIRO in this matter.
            -- Bill Gates Sr., co-chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

I would say that the damage was done to the state -- and the democracy in which we live. Election officials are working for us, and it is our confidence that has been damaged….[This was] an extremely interesting exercise!
            -- Mike Kittross, editor, Media Ethics magazine

KIRO only scratched the surface. Probably fearful that taking it to true research levels would damage the sensationalism of their story. They knew that further in-depth research would make the story less of a story….Amazing disregard for the facts. Totally ignored the truth….KIRO ignored much of the factual information presented in the meetings with the Secretary of State and reported only what they (KIRO) wanted to report to make the story more inflammatory….This person claims to be an investigive reporter? Wow! Nothing could be further from truth….This was blatant disregard for accurate and factual reporting in order to seemingly evoke wrath upon the Secretary State's office...on the eve of an election. The timing of the stories further would suggest the intent was to rile the public.
            -- Roy Kimbel, consultant, Center for Ethical Development, Tacoma Community College

TV news is not news.  It is entertainment.  "If it bleeds, it leads."  This just further enhances the reputation of the "newsies" as being a waste of time.
            --Ghery S. Pettit

It was sensationalized -- some facts were distorted, others were just plain wrong, and some were ignored as they did not substantiate the story. KIRO went through the motions -- that's all. This was a shame. Sam Reed's office has done a great job trying to get the voters rolls cleaned up. There will always be errors, but this report "created" errors to substantiate a story that was not based upon facts, but based upon the writer's idea. He manipulated data and made up facts to flesh out his story. KIRO has a rogue reporter on their hands -- he has been caught before -- weaving a web of lies and half-truths to fit his story. This is not reporting, it is fiction at its worst, because real names and institutions are used to further this reporter's taste for scandal. KIRO needs to clean house, and find an investigative reporter who can tell fact from fiction.
            -- Liz Nordstrand

 

NOTE: THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE SIDED WITH KIRO7 AND CRITICIZED REED:

The reporter appears to have exercised due diligence and reported his findings in a proper manner….The principal point of the [story] was not the individual voters, but the omission of registered felons who committed their crimes before the database was put on line. The credibility of the Secretary of State's office was diminished by this act, not the story….The reporter stated his findings. If subsequent facts, of which he was not aware, change these findings, then it would be proper to revise the story of remove it. This was done….If the reporter was aware of facts that could cast doubt on his findings prior to publication, he should publish these with his story. This does not appear to be the case here….The reputation of election officials was severely damaged as a result of the irregularities that came to light in the 2004 gubernatorial recounts. These stories did not help that reputation, but did not damage it further….The KIRO reporter appears to have done due diligence in the publication of the subject stories. Afterward they were presented with information that countered some, but not all of the facts presented in the stories. They subsequently removed the stories. The facts of the two stories appear to support the underlying electoral problems highlighted by the stories. It appears that two of the anecdotal cases used to illustrate the problems had problems. The latter does not negate the truth of the former.
            -- Doug Wood

It was absolutely dead on. Reed has ALWAYS wanted felon voting to make HIS administrative life easier. He's done nothing to address the issue, and insured that tens of thousands of felon voters received ballots in the last election. THOUSANDS of felon voters got ballots. He's had EIGHT years to fix this, and he's done nothing. If accurate coverage "damages," then so what?
            --K.J. Hinton

Sam is joking, isn't he? I would bet there are STILL dead and felon voters on the rolls. Until we have a chip installed, there will be errors on official records regarding individuals. Even the Feds are having trouble finding my military records. Sam and his office have come a long way, but not far enough to believe this story rated formal charges on the reporter. Back to work; quit wasting time with complaining. Someday they might report there are NO dead voters!
            -- Ken Estes