By now, anyone who is paying attention to local politics has heard about the arrest of homeless advocate Kip Billups for refusing the order of Mayor Ginger Nelson that he stand so she could address him. What you may not realize is that the City Council immediately went into spin mode with the help of local media.
Background. After reading an article about a whistle-blower who was dismissed by KVII, I contacted KVII about my concerns. I, too, had contacted KVII with tips that were ignored. I got a response from KVII News Director Amy Sullivan lecturing me about not being able to run a story without hard facts. She never even bothered to ask me about my tips or what facts I may have provided. I responded by letting her have a piece of my mind and gave her another tip (without any facts attached). Ms. Sullivan never followed up to question me about my tip or if I could provide facts. Not only could I provide facts, I have registered letters signed for by Potter County Attorney Scott Brumley and a response from the Texas Attorney General. News Director Amy Sullivan never bothered to follow up.
Cut to the arrest of Kip Billups. On the very evening of City Council meeting, KVII interviewed City Council member / Mayor Pro Tem Eddie Sauer on-set regarding the incident. Eddie Sauer was interviewed unchallenged and without presenting "facts" that News Director Amy Sullivan claimed she needed before airing stories. Last night, I emailed a series of questions to Amy Sullivan with a copy to KVII General Manager Taylor Guyanne. I have not received a response. Those questions are copied below:
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I notice that your station did a sit-down interview with Mayor Pro-Tem Eddie Sauer on Tuesday night following Tuesday night's City Council meeting on the subject of the "clapping incident".
Obviously, this interview, based on the subject matter, could not have been arranged in advance. It had to have come on short notice.
I have some questions.
1. Who arranged this interview?
2. At who's behiest?
3. Who did KVII representatives speak to from the City in arranging this interview?
4. How much time was spent preparing for this interview?
5. Why was Eddie Sauer allowed to spout his views without being challenged?
6. Why did KVII air only the City's side of the story without speaking to anyone else?
7. Since you are concerned about journalistic ethics, do you consider your report ethical?
8. Who on the City Council made the decision to send Eddie Sauer to do this interview?
9. Was this something that should have been decided in public?
10. Did the Council meet in violation of TOMA to decide to do this interview?
11. Did KVII bump a story to carry this live interview? If so, what was that story?
12. I may have follow-up questions.