An open letter to Joel Kaplan, ombudsman at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Mr. Kaplan. In addition to MANY inaccuracies in your report: WHDD and Tri-State Politics, you published two “outright lies”, falsehoods, whatever you want to call them.
1) This comment from Susie Clayton:
“When all this started happening and he started going on the air and being very critical of the superintendent and other people within Region One, I got concerned and questioned him on it and it didn’t stop,” she said.
That is a BOLD FACE LIE. Since Susie left WHDD, never mind the fact that she has never once asked me to stop, as a matter of fact, she has never spoken a word to me in that time, never sent me a letter or email to stop, so that should be removed from your report.
2) “Since then he’s been getting involved in local contests. And he’s even gone so far as to put himself on the slate in Salisbury to run for one of these school board positions. And as someone who has worked in radio before, I just found that a little disconcerting, particularly public radio.
The only editorials I have EVER done have been during budget time of the Region One Board of Education, that’s it. PERIOD. Two years ago I personally endorsed in both in writing and in an editorial that the FCC verified was legal, two candidates for the Region One Board. I have never, I repeat never been involved in ANY OTHER LOCAL CONTESTS.
I guess what has me so personally upset at your “opinion”, is that you, yourself have obviously done no fact checking, no investigating, no follow-up. And then you sign your name to a report that is flawed in many ways. How many ways? Lets take a look:
1) Mr. Miles is also running for election as a representative on the Region One Board of Education in Sharon next month.
WRONG: A simple check with C.P.B. records would have shown you that WHDD is in Sharon, CT, and a simple Google search would have shown you I am running for a volunteer office in Salisbury, CT.
2) And while Mr. Miles and his WHDD co-founder, Jill Goodman, are not journalists, WHDD does employ journalists.
WRONG: A simple look at C.P.B records would have shown you that we have NO news people, no journalists that work, or employed at WHDD.
3) Whether or not Mr. Miles gets paid to run WHDD is irrelevant. Also irrelevant is a March 30, 2012 letter from the FCC that he cites which supported his right to endorse a candidate running for the Region 1 Board of Education. The letter stated that it was Mr. Miles’ right to endorse a candidate on the air as long as he specified that the endorsement was his personal opinion and not that of the stations. But that is a far cry from running for office himself.
WRONG AGAIN: If you read F.C.C regulations, like our FCC lawyer did, you will see we followed the procedure for on-air radio personalities in running for office, to the letter. It is not my running for office that is a far cry, it is your ASSUMPTION that I used the initial letter as reason to run for a volunteer office.
4) Ms. Clayton’s comment: “And as someone who has worked in radio before, I just found that a little disconcerting, particularly public radio.”
I really find that amazing as Susie ran for Selectmen while at WHDD (a public radio station) and for First Selectmen while at a commercial station (WQQQ). Both times she neither sought or got approval from her opponents. Had your office done any investigation, this fact would have been revealed.
5) You also use the following comment as a basis for your decision: “But I just think there needs to be unbiased reporting when it comes to public dollars. And I don’t see that equal time is being given. And I just think that the role of a public station is to put out the facts and let people decide and not put your own opinions out there in such a harmful way.”
WRONG: I gave your intern not only the names of two local First Selectmen that came on the air to endorse passage of this years budget, but I also sent her to the audio links as well. So this comment should not have been used in your decision as it is based on a lie that no equal time was given. If this were a court of law, your entire “opinion” would have been thrown out as “hearsay”.
And I find particularly disturbing your final comment:
” There is nothing wrong with Mr. Miles running for a seat on the regional board of education. There is also nothing wrong with his presiding over a public radio station. What is wrong is that he should not do both at the same time.”
Mr. Kaplan, in America, EVERYONE has a right to run for political office, EVERYONE. As long as rules are followed(Election and F.C.C), and the process had been transparent (as it has been in this case), the type of job, or position you hold does NOT exclude you from your fundamental rights as an American (at least not yet).
What’s wrong Mr. Kaplan is that a man in your position as CPB ombudsman,and as the Associate Dean for Professional Graduate Studies at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University should have higher standards when putting out such a report. You, your office as CPB ombudsman, your position as the Associate Dean for Professional Graduate Studies at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University have unwittingly been drawn into effecting a local election for a volunteer office in a town with information supplied by a few people who you know nothing about, with information that is inaccurate, incomplete, unsubstantiated and with prevailing issues you know nothing about. How unethical is that?
The next time Mr. Kaplan, do some good old-fashioned “feet on the ground investigative reporting”. Go out and interview sources at length. Go out and seek other people in the communities and get their input, and when leads are given, make sure your intern followed them up. Then please, as all good journalist do, check and double-check the facts to make sure they are correct. If you are going to sign your name to a report that has been put together with a few emails and a few telephone calls by an intern, filled with inaccuracies and hearsay, then realize that your report is not worth the paper it is written on.
And that Mr. Kaplan “is wrong; it is unfair; and it should stop.”