KTVA terminates two over Miller phone message

When the Joe Miller campaign released the audio of a phone message left on a campaign worker’s phone in which KTVA employees discussed finding a child molester for coverage of one of his rallies, Miller’s campaign accused the TV station of deliberately skewing coverage to make him look bad.  Sarah Palin called the station’s reporters “corrupt bastards” and demanded action against the personnel involved.  The station itself claimed that the conversation was taken out of context and that it wasn’t what it seemed.

Looks like that explanation has … expired:

Local CBS affiliate KTVA announced Tuesday afternoon via press release (.doc) that two producers are no longer with the station as a result of an accidental voice recording which captured newsroom staff discussing coverage plans for Joe Miller rally last Thursday.

“At no time did any of the elements associated with the recorded comments become part of any coverage or broadcast. The recorded conversation in question specifically involved how that evening’s Miller rally might be promoted and the ensuing dialogue went downhill from there. These particular comments were not in line with KTVA standards,” states KTVA General Manager Jerry Bever in the press release.

“As a result of this incident, the two producers involved in the recorded conversation are no longer with the station,” he continued.

The station did make one important clarification.  The Miller camp accused reporter Nick McDermott of being the male voice in the audio, because McDermott e-mailed the campaign after the message was left to apologize for leaving an accidentally long voice mail.  However, KTVA took no action against McDermott, who may have initiated the call but didn’t take part in the conversation.  According to the report, KTVA is declining to identify the two staffers that were terminated.

The statement itself plays a little game of misdirection as well.  No one accused KTVA of having dug up child molesters at the rally; the tape showed that the station operated from a position of hostility and bias towards Miller.  The terminations seem to show that KTVA finally understood that distinction, even if they indulge in a little CYA sophistry in their explanation.