Sunday, December 9, 2007
The only place not talking about Bernie Ward is KGO
You can tell a lot about a news media outlet by the way it covers itself.
Basically, if the media treated everyone with the kid gloves they use handling their own, they would have a lot more friends. There would also be no exposes, investigative journalism or critical thought.
Competitor KCBS-AM (740) was all over the story of talk host Bernie Ward's Thursday arrest on suspicion of transmitting child pornography, including posting podcasts of interviews with his lawyer and agent that were picked up by other stations. It was the lead story on the Drudge report and the main topic of Michael Savage's talk show for two days. (Including, I believe, playing the CBS podcast.)
KGO's news side covered it, but the talk hosts kept a wall of silence around the story.
On Friday KGO topics such as Mitt Romney's religion or the CIA cover-up of torture tapes sounded anemic compared to the Ward case. What was on most minds was whether the station's most vocal liberal host had done something gruesome and illegal.
Operations manager Jack Swanson didn't return repeated phone calls and emails.
On one hand, I agree that he is in a corner. A lawyer himself, he knows that broadcasting speculation about an employee he may have to fire could have serious implications.
On the other, the station didn't shy away from discussing Rush Limbaugh's arrest for buying illegal pain killers. KGO's sister-station KSFO-AM (560) broadcasts Limbaugh's syndicated show, although it wasn't all news all the time.
Just imagine how would the station be covering Gavin Newsom or Barry Bonds in the same situation? Talk wallpaper, right?
I know I'm in shock about this. I can't believe Ward would do what he is charged with, and want desperately to believe his defense, that he was working on a book.
Its certainly possible. And while in earlier times I would be inclined to believe that federal prosecutors wouldn't file frivilous charges, I'm more skeptical about the government, in part because of things Ward has shown.
He was the first national host to talk about Blackwater, and at first I thought it was a crazy conspiracy theory. It turned out to be more true than anyone can believe. He was adamantly against the war, from the start, even when his peers were for it and the media was labeling as traitors anyone who questioned it.
With government that lies about weapons of mass destruction, with a commander in chief who gives out the wrong phone number on a national broadcast about a service to help people in trouble with mortgages, anything is possible.
You want another example of kid gloves? Check out my old newspaper's coverage of its former publisher George Riggs winning an award as executive of the year.
The guy's paper lost a third of its circulation, and its deputy managing editor says the community hates it because it has no personality...but he wins a big award and no one questions it or raises any irony in the story covering the award. You know they would if this were some other industry patting itself on the back.
That's one reason bloggers are getting so much more powerful. They can ask: how did they give this award out? Random drawing?