Made for TV

Richard Belcher with guest

Richard Belcher with guest

The Atlanta Tea party Wednesday was a legit story.  But it carried lots of baggage, mostly because of its heavy embrace by the Fox News Channel.  And two stations had ties to the event’s host, an unabashed partisan who jumped at the chance to do interviews.  Observations:

Though he’s obviously a fan, Richard Belcher approached his interview with Sean Hannity with skepticism.  “What am I — Alan Colmes?  I can’t get a word in edgewise,” Belcher muttered as he closed his four-minute interview with Hannity in WSB radio’s studios.  WSB-TV only aired a soundbite, but put the unedited interview on its website.  Belcher asked great questions and Hannity delivered his famously nutty charm.  Grade:  A-

Loved Kevin Rowson’s 6pm live shot at the Capit0l (which followed a solid Paul Crawley preview piece).  “So it was an hour and a half ago, Ted.  I was there in the studios with you.  And I was told to go down to the Capitol and tell us what the traffic is like, right?  An hour and a half later, at 5:59 I just walked up to this spot.”  It spoke volumes about TV’s inability to make rational planning decisions for events that are planned weeks in advance.  Grade:  B+

"This rally's been planned for how long...?"  Kevin Rowson, WXIA

"This rally's been planned for how long...?" Kevin Rowson, WXIA

Ditto, Rowson’s piece on WXIA at 11pm on the rally itself, tag-teamed with John Cater’s coverage.  Rowson’s piece mentioned that the entire event was staged by Fox News Channel, and both men declined to name Hannity during their pieces (though Rowson allowed a small child to do so, which delivered the “ugh” effect Rowson doubtless sought).  Made sense, since the story was about the rank-and-file true believers who showed up.  Cater closed by showing a teabag, saying “I guess I’m supposed to throw it away.”  Grade:  B+

John Bachman’s 6pm piece on WSB was a little cringe-inducing.  If Bachman had any skepticism about the event, it didn’t show.  Grade:  C+

WAGA sent Tom Haynes to talk with Hannity.  It’s not fair to compare Haynes’ edited interview with Belcher’s raw interview, because Haynes’ piece was edited for TV.  Haynes wasn’t exactly in the tank with Hannity.  But he was too easy on him, starting by asking Hannity a softball question about his rise as a radio star in Atlanta.  And he allowed Hannity to say, without challenge, that Rush Limbaugh “never said that” he wanted the Obama presidency to fail.    Unlike Belcher, Hannity apparently outmaneuvered Haynes.  Grade:  C-

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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

11 thoughts on “Made for TV

  1. Mr. Bear

    It’s hard to tell who looks worse here; Susan Roesgen covering the Chicago Tea Party or the Republican Party, covering the last 8 years in power.

  2. Larry

    So the grades got worse as the reporters skepticism about the TP was LESS evident? Holding up skepticism as the signature value in making a good report vis a vis this story is bias pure and simple and I give your report on the reports a D.

    At what point does this skepticism you recommend become the unhealthy brand on full display when Susan Roesgen of CNN turns from reporter to serial antagonist and arguing with the people making the actual news? It’s professional enough to ask a good question and let the viewers deliberate over the answers they get. Arguing and interrupting is not follow-up. It is arguing. Arguing is english for “I don’t care what you have to say. I’m going to rudely make my point.”

    You also repeat the lie, along with the trailblazing hacks at CNN, that this was a product of Fox News. Fox News was a facilitator, but not an originator of the event which was a product of Facebook and word of mouth. Fox News, simply and wisely decided to actually report the news. Would CNN ignore the Super Bowl if Fox owned the rights? No. It’s news.

    CNN’s accusations are merely a cover for another blatant episode of their derelict editorial process that ignores an event that doesn’t suit their status quo protection agenda and then later bites them in the ass as they see Fox’s evening ratings double theirs….again.

    CNN community disorganizer Susan Roesgen also complained on TV of the lack of African-Americans at the Tea Party! Well, Susan, if you were so concerned with the social activities of African-Americans, perhaps you could have done some stories leading up to the event informing African-Americans where and when the Tea Parties were taking place. They were open to anyone who wanted to be there including even counterprotestors.

    Maybe three weeks notice on Facebook wasn’t enough time to file a report what with the breathtaking coverage of Michelle Obama’s fabulous arms, or the Obama’s new puppy, or Obama’s latest teleprompter read taking priority

    How did millions of people know about this event, happening less than 2 miles from CNN HQ, but the mighty CNN did not? And upon knowing, why didn’t CNN use their ample resources to phone ACORN or Robert Gibbs and get some buses out to the Tea Parties so these people could join in? Maybe because the beneficiaries of wealth redistribution aren’t as interested in protesting the flow of other people’s dollars into their own EBT card.

  3. live apt fire Post author

    Sorry Larry. Read the post again. I didn’t say it was a “product” of Fox News. I said it was embraced by Fox News. There’s a difference, and I can’t imagine that you would dispute the “embrace” given that a Fox News guy emceed the event. Gotta love it when folks who demand accuracy are willfully (or ignorantly) inaccurate. And it’s always amusing when a Fox News fan points at somebody else and claims “bias.”

    That said, thanks for weighing in. Your opinion is welcome here anytime. Your grade of D is every bit as valid as anything I dream up.

  4. AtlBigEar

    All I have to say is that skepticism is one of the foundations of journalism. Skepticism is what makes us reporters look at a story and go, “hmmm, there’s another side to this you aren’t telling.” Skepticism is what keeps stories balanced, fair, and accurate. And skepticism shouldn’t just apply to the big stories such as the Tea Party, but to ALL stories.

    Naples, FL 2003: The national media goes crazy over a little girl’s summer lemonade stand being shutdown by police. A reporter for a local TV station thought, “Oh, what a great story!” and left it at that, running with just the side of the little girl and a police incident report. He never bothered to go ask the neighbor who called the police nor did he check his facts that she A.) Wasn’t ticketed, B.) Wasn’t arrested, and C) The family was in a long standing feud with the next-door neighbors. If he would have been a little more skeptical, it would have made for a better story (even if it weeds out the hype). Check it out:

    Every story should have skepticism. Even the light and fluffy ones! A lesson hard learned.

  5. Jim

    I’ll never forget accompanying a lifestyles (print) reporter as he did a story about a statue being created for a county property. Some public money was being spent, but, because of the way it was coming from a sub group, and there was a lot of private money involved, it was tough to figure out how much.

    This guy was as country sounding as they come, which usually put people off their guard. Unfortunately for them, he was also extremely smart, so they usually ended up giving up a lot more than they planned.

    He’s interviewing the sculptor when he gets the feeling the guy is dancing around how much public money he’s getting, so he just flat out asked him. The guy’s response was a rather smug sounding “well now, I really don’t think we need to get into that, the important thing is that this fabulous work is almost finished.”

    His answer was about as simple as it gets, “well now, I gotta tell ya, when a feller starts sayin’ stuff like that, it just makes me more curious about whatever it was I just asked.” He said it very nicely, but he left no doubt that he knew there was something up.

    Turns out it was a lot more money than anyone suspected, so it turned into a good story.

    I’m not sure how much skepticism has to make it on air, but, when a package leaves little doubt that the journalist failed to dig a little deeper, it makes us all look bad.

    As to the whole “Fox News” thing, I don’t care who started it, or who pushed it, when that many people show up for something, it’s news.

  6. Don B

    Oh yell.. All the crazies showed up for the tea party..Probably the same people who are buying up all the extra ammunition…

  7. Erik

    Did anyone else notice that WSB (mis)identified Isakson as a Democrat during his sound-bite? But the ‘D’ key and the ‘R’ key are very close to each other…

  8. Buzzfan

    Did anyone catch former CNN anchor Lynne Russell’s comment on current CNN “reporter” Susan Roesgen (of Chicago Tea Party infamy)?…..

    “She just needs to go find something else to do”.

  9. Pingback: RIP John Cater « live apartment fire

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