Miller campaign claims KTVA reporters caught on tape discussing smear; Update: Palin calls Alaska media “corrupt bastards”

According to Joe Miller’s campaign, a voice mail left by reporters from KTVA, the CBS affiliate in Anchorage, went longer than intended and ended up capturing some embarrassing conversation. Much like Jerry Brown’s voicemail to a police union chief, the recording apparently resulted from a failure to properly disconnect the call, and two people can be heard to strategize coverage of an upcoming Joe Miller rally to look for a child molester they could feature later. Big Journalism also has the transcript (via Left Coast Rebel):

FEMALE REPORTER: That’s up to you because you’re the expert, but that’s what I would
do…I’d wait until you see who showed up because that indicates we already know
FEMALE REPORTER: Child molesters…
MALE REPORTER: Oh yeah… can you repeat Joe Miller’s…uh… list of people, campaign
workers, which one’s the molester?
FEMALE VOICE: We know that out of all the people that will show up tonight, at least one of
them will be a registered sex offender.
MALE REPORTER: You have to find that one person…
FEMALE REPORTER: And the one thing we can do is ….we won’t know….we won’t know but
if there is any sort of chaos whatsoever we can put out a twitter/facebook alert: saying what
the… ‘Hey Joe Miller punched at rally.’
FEMALE REPORTER: Kinda like Rand Paul…I like that.
FEMALE REPORTER: That’s a good one.

Miller’s campaign released this statement, along with the audio:

Anchorage, Alaska. October 30, 2010 — In an apparent accidental voice mail message left on the cell phone of Joe Miller’s spokesperson, Randy DeSoto, what is believed to be the news director for CBS Anchorage affiliate KTVA, along with assignment editor Nick McDermott, and other reporters, openly discuss creating, if not fabricating, two stories about Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Joe Miller. The voice mail message was later authenticated by Mr. McDermott, who sent a text to DeSoto stating “Damn iPhone . . . I left you a long message. I thought I hung up. Sorry.”

In the first discussion, the KTVA reporters discuss getting a list of Miller campaign supporters in order to ‘find’ a “child molester.” “You have to find that one person,” says the male reporter, to laughter in the news room. The reporters at KTVA then discuss creating a “Rand Paul” incident at the then upcoming Miller Rally (held on October 28, 2010) and hoping for violence so that they can “send out a tweet” and “Facebook” that “Miller got punched” at the rally.

Needless to say, if this allegation is true, then … we have an epidemic of incompetency when it comes to handling phones. KTVA also has a big scandal on its hands if this is substantiated. I have sent a request to Nick McDermott and news director Staci Feger asking for confirmation and comment, and I will update this post if and when I receive a reply.

Update: Let me make a couple of points about concerns raised in the comments.  First, the part about phone-handling incompetency is a joke.  Second and more importantly, we don’t yet know whether the voices on that call came from KTVA reporters or not; there is nothing in the audio to identify anyone.  (In contrast, the Brown audio had Brown’s very distinctive voice at the beginning.)  The Miller campaign has made an allegation, backed by an e-mail that has yet to be released, and until we get independent verification, that’s all it is at the moment.  Someone left the message, of course, but until we get a response from KTVA, it’s best not to leap to conclusions.  If it did capture reporters having that kind of discussion, then as I wrote originally, KTVA does have a big scandal on their hands.

Update II: Sarah Palin tweeted that the Alaska media are “corrupt bastards.”  Well, she would know after the way they treated her during and after her VP run.  The Daily Caller has more on the story. The Right Scoop has the video of Palin repeating it on Fox News:

Update III: Why didn’t I “demand” a response from KTVA and vent my outrage?  Because it doesn’t cost anything to be professional and polite, and it makes it more likely to get a response, that’s why.  If they don’t respond to me or anyone else, that will tell us something about the allegations, too.

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David Strom 3:31 PM on December 08, 2022