Saturday, May 7, 2011

KMOX Allows False Information to Fester On Website for Over a Week

I had a nice conversation with KMOX reporter Kevin Killeen earlier this week. Unfortunately, it followed the same pattern I've experienced many other times with the CBS affiliate that hosts Rush Limbaugh in St. Louis: they're very nice and polite, they say I raise good points, and yet they fail to fix the problem.

KMOX was one of the first St. Louis media outlets to pick up the Breitbart smear story, and they reported it without noting Breitbart's extensive history of dishonesty. In the article, Killeen wrote that "Giljum appears to tell students that being a labor activist is not always calm discussion," (with an accompanying quote that's been edited to change the meaning) and that "Ancel appears to be telling students that violence is a legitimate tool of organized labor." Both of these claims and their corresponding video clips have been shown to be unambiguously false.

Keep in mind the serious consequences of this kind of dishonest attack: both Ancel and Giljim have received numerous threats based on the distorted videos. So by unquestioningly passing on videos from a source that has been shown to be dishonest on numerous occasions, KMOX is facilitating threats and intimidation against two innocent people.

On Friday of last week, I emailed links to Killeen with video that showed, conclusively, that the Breitbart sites had taken the video out-of-context. He responded by thanking me for the links, and telling me that he'd follow up on Monday of the next week with UM officials because he "already had a full assignment sheet." I didn't understand why he would need a quote from the University of Missouri just to point out that the original video was distorted and his reporting about it was wrong, and I also didn't understand why a news organization would decide to wait three days to correct a falsehood, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

The next week rolled around and Killeen still did not write any correction. So I sent the following message to Killeen:
Last week, you published a story based on videos from professional con man Andrew Breitbart. The links I sent you included clear video evidence that Breitbart's videos were edited completely out-of-context to put words into the instructors mouths. For example, you wrote that it "appeared" that Ancel was saying violence is an appropriate tactic, when in fact she was quoting a character from a movie to promote class discussion. I'mhttp curious how long you want misinformation to sit on the KMOX web site without being corrected.
I received no response from Killeen and in fact he wrote a new story that doubled down on the original dishonesty. His new story focused on the fact that UMSL claims Giljim resigned voluntarily, and Giljim said he was pressured, but it made no mention of the fact that the full videos show that the quotes were distorted. In fact, it doubled down on the original dishonesty by linking to a sound clip from Dana Loesch (BTW, a competitor to KMOX's Mark Reardon) that repeated the exact same falsehoods.

At this point, I called Killeen and asked him why he was not fixing this false information. He responded that he thought that the editor had added the links I sent him (Media Matters and Crooks and Liars), and that he would try to get them to change the story. I just checked back today and, unfortunately, the only "change" they made was to add the Media Matters and Crooks and Liars links to the "related content" section at the end.

Needless to say, these changes are virtually meaningless. As a radio station, the main audience is the people who hear the original report on the radio, who have been provided with no reason to question the original, false story. Out of the significantly smaller audience who read the stories online, very few are likely to come back to the site several days later to check to see if there are any updates. And of that small group, how many are going to notice a change in the "related content" that doesn't appear in the main story?

KMOX put out factually incorrect information. They were notified of this fact over a week ago, and still have not updated their original story nor issued a correction. They wrote a story based on Breitbart's smear video, yet have refused to write a story based on video that proves it to be false. And, in fact, they have not even adjusted the content of their claims in the new stories they've written since the longer videos came out.

I personally am not sure how KMOX expects people to regard them as a purveyor of trustworthy information when they so flippantly disregard information that shows their reporting to have been mistaken. It's one thing for a news service to make a mistake; it's quite another for them to hide this mistake even after it's been revealed. The later amounts to intentionally misleading their audience. Hopefully, they will move quickly to fix this mistake.

Update: They set the record straight with a new story.

1 comment:

  1. You cant expect Killeen or any other st louis "Journalist" to be honest anymore. They are all marching lockstep with the Dana Loesch/Jim Hoft group of serial liars now, all you can do is keep trying to get the word out....