Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Calls for Resignation Reign Over News Director Rosenthal at KTVU; Tense Situation at Jack London Square; Reaching Out to AAJA Doesn't Hold Off Storm

Cries, albeit anonymously,  for doing the right thing and resign have suddenly besieged KTVU News Director, Lee Rosenthal. It's not just in and around the building in Jack London Square but around the offices of the TV News industry. Why?

Because instead of a move-forward, pro-active campaign of transparency on Namegate, Rosenthal has been busy trying to quell the storm, aided and abetted by his cover-up in chief, GM, Tom Raponi.  Both GM and ND, in full CYA-mode for the corporate suits in Atlanta, have tried to spin an oasis of contrition, reaching out to the Asian-American Journalists people. It's one thing to try to pacify people with a direct interest in the ToriGaffe, but sorry, your kissy-poo to the Asian journalists rings hollow when none of your main people speak about the crime and in fact, try to have the now, infamous, video pulled from the Internet. Good Luck with that.

Rosenthal, from all accounts a good guy, might be losing the newsroom. He's only been here, from Indy, just a few months, and already has major fingerprints in destroying the best news org. in town. This may sound ridiculous: Remember Watergate? It wasn't the burglary--it was the cover-up. History lessons at KTVU might be in order.

Rosenthal may be deft at getting social-media traction for his company but he has third-rate ethics and a playbook that doesn't work in 21st Century screw-ups. Especially one that is the WORST mistake in local TV News history. Innocuous apologies and cower-and-hide campaigns will not work nor will half-baked reaching-out missions to the AAJA. It all requires more thought and preparation and full acts of contrition that are heavy-lifting and arduous but might be steps on the road to redemption.

Rosenthal hasn't been helped by GM, Raponi, whose been late to the game and like his pesky ND, hasn't said a word publically. What can they do? They could have done a hell of a lot more--and their foolhardy attempt to use a loophole to remove the evidence makes them look like a bunch of narcissistic fools.

The Cox Family is outraged over all of this. In due time, something is supposedly coming down the pike and it will not be pretty. To be more precise, listen to an Insider close to the KTVU goings-on: "When the boss loses the support and confidence of the rank and file he's DONE--It's over."


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  1. Hi Rich,

    First time commenter here.....

    Yeah, it's a tough time for KTVU, and I'm in complete agreement that they have mishandled the whole Namegate situation royally.

    But I hope that heads will not roll at the station on account of what was a): a goofy prank, b): a case of sabotage from a non-friendly, c): a domino-knockover series of mistakes from the time the names were first listed all the way to T.C.'s reading them on the air, or d): all of the above.

    We all make mistakes - we're human, and that's what we humans sometimes do.

    I do know this: I'll keep watching KTVU news. IMHO, they were the best local news provider before this whole mess, and I guarantee you that after this incident, and having being spanked as badly as they have been, KTVU news staffers will be totally on their toes fact-checking-wise from here on.

    Do more apologies need to be made to the Asian-American community? I can't speak to that because I don't belong to that ethnic category.

    But from what I've read on various blogs and comment sites, the majority of A.-A.s seem to think that approaching Namegate with a sense of humor and letting bygones be bygones is the best way to approach things.

    I'll reiterate: I hope that jobs aren't lost because of this whole megillah.

    PS I love your blog - keep up the good work!

    PPS I'm not affiliated with KTVU in any way other than being a long-time viewer.

    - Greg from SF

    1. I predict two new anchors for KTVU's talent stable. Both will be Asian, likely Korean.

    2. Sabotage from a non-friendly?

    3. As if we don't have enough "politically correct" "melting pot" "diversity" of a mix of ethnicities on local broadcasts. Give the job to someone with skill, not to someone because you have to meet your Asian or minority quota. The majority of the Asians in the Bay Area (of which I believe 50%+ weren't even born here in the U.S.) watch Asian language stations and news as it is. Wake up bay area broadcasters.

    4. Dear Greg, thank you for your opinions. Please keep in mind that 30% of the residents in the Bay Area are Asian Americans. YES, we are outraged. It's not just us, but our non-Asian spouses, extended family and friends. You say this was a simple case of "sabotage from a non friendly." Really? Then why won't Tom Raponi or Lee Rosenthal provide details of WHO these "non-friendlies" are and how did they receive this info? I'll tell you why, providing these details would incriminate themselves so their only comment is NO COMMENT. They should be fired.

    5. > Yeah, it's a tough time for KTVU, and I'm in
      > complete agreement that they have mishandled
      > the whole Namegate situation royally.

      Specifics please? How? What should they have done instead?

      Thanks. Looking forward to the enlightenment.

    6. Bring back Sidney Kohara. ... She does a good job in pretending that she is Asian.

    7. Ah yes the spelling police aka Christine and her predictions strike again. If you're wrong I'm sure you'll be the first outside KTVU with a bull horn and picket signs...

    8. Hey KTVU, how about putting an Asian male anchor on the air?

  2. It is historically true that once you loose the support of your troops (in this case the newsroom), the regime above it is done. Apologies are not enough. The people who allowed this (I love it-Torigaffe) to occur have to be punished. Sure mistakes happen but this was no ordinary mistake. At least two hands had to have seen the names and never bothered to double-check. And then you have Tori Campbell reading the names on air!

    And this foolish attempt to smother the videos on YouTube has just made it worse. They might very well decide to clean house and get new leadership along with chopping others who had hands on this story.

  3. As someone who has worked in the business, totally agree. At my station we used to have a saying when there was a screw-up on air: "It's not brain surgery. Nobody died." Let's move on, people. What we need to know is the chain of events that caused the Asiana crash. The chain of events that caused Namegate? Not so much, unless you're a KTVU manager.

    1. Accountability...they owe it to their viewers Midge. I'll respond to you because at least you didn't post anonymously and attack.

  4. "They really could have done a hell of a lot more." Rich, if you're man enough, I'd like you to list the things they could have done. Concrete things, like 1) Go on the air and... You keep saying what a mess this is but anyone who consults Google or any other news reader knows that for the past week and a half it's been no one but you talking about it. "OH YEAH, THE WHOLE INDUSTRY'S TALKING ABOUT IT!!" you say. Okay, please provide me with links. I was talking to a friend who produces at KGO today and he said, "Is that guy still on that? We don't even talk about it at in the break room (gossip room) amymore."

  5. > This may sound ridiculous: Remember Watergate? It wasn't
    > the burglary--it was the cover-up. History lessons at KTVU
    > might be in order.

    Watergate got a lot of notoriety for Woodward and Bernstein and investigative journalism in general. Now every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to turn his or her own molehill into a mountain while pretending to themselves they're W&B riding on white horses. This isn't a big coverup, except in your mind. Please post just one link (your own don't count) as to how there's any evidence for a "big coverup" going on. I'm waiting. Waiting...... Waiting...............

    1. Thank you 2:34. EXACTLY

      Please, someone explain to me the big secret conspiracy and coverup behind this story. I have seen comments here alleging that this Rosenthal was behind the offensive racist names. Is there any evidence whatsoever behind such a ridiculous claim?

    2. 3:45: Rosenthal didn't make up those names. I saw that same list on the internet on the previous AM and thought it mildly humorous. I was slack-jawed when I saw Tori reading those same names on Friday. OTOH, for some reason, the powers that be are attempting to apply 19/20th century solutions to 21st century problems. Apologize, laugh over the gaffe, promise to do better, then LET IT GO. By continuing to stumble in the effort to cover this up and make it go away (copyright seizures, gag orders, etc) you are just making sure that it stays in the public consciousness. That which has been seen cannot be unseen and the internet never dies.

      At this point you need to take 5 minutes and explain how it happened and how it won't happen again. RESPECT YOUR VIEWERS. We are intelligent enough to understand that things like this happen. Don't try to pretend that it didn't.

  6. The definition of a cover-up is to hide the truth about something by not telling what you know or by preventing other people from telling what they know.

    a. no managerial statements to reveal to viewers what exactly happened, point by point, was it a news release? who got it? who told who about the release? who called the ntsb? how can someone get confirmation by not pronouncing names to the ntsb?
    b. a gag order within the station
    c. a demand to take down the video

    1. By that lame definition, every business that's ever suffered a misfortune has engaged in a "massive coverup." There is no obligation for a company to go public with every last factoid. It probably doesn't even know every last factoid. As for Rich's claims of panicked meetings, calls to take down every existing video, etc., he's shown no evidence of this. It could all be made up. Oh, Rich has secret sources? Why does he then hide the truth? Why does he prevent other people from telling what they know? --You know what, Rich is engaged in, in, in...wait for it!--a COVERUP!

      Now, I've got to run. The men in black are banging on my door to take me to the Cox Starchamber.

    2. A TV station (or any media entity in any medium) is not "every business." Each media entity's business is reporting on issues of public import.

      I would say that using what many consider racist monikers for names of pilots is in the public import because it is directly tied to the station's credibility.

      You ask transgression of what? Of truth, facts. Transgression of the station's claim to credibility and honesty. Transgression of the station's claim to being a station viewers can trust.

      A news entity, in this case a TV station, has an obligation to devote resources to covering itself with the same objectivity as it would devote to say, a politician, an energy company, etc., that also makes a serious error or series of errors, as KTVU did.

      A news entity that does not live up to such a standard may lose credibility with its viewers.

      Viewers need to know:
      1) how it happened
      2) what will be done to prevent such errors in the future

      To me, names are not important. I don't know the people and I wish them no ill-will.

      Silence does not lead to confidence or credibility. Silence lessens each.

    3. If you're a new station with a duty to hold businesses and government agencies' feet to the fire,

      you do have the responsibility to come clean when you, as a television station, become the story.

      I'm not Rich, but he's probably protecting sources who are terrified of losing their jobs.

  7. As a white male I'm offended that they are reaching out to Asian journalists and Asian viewers overall. They reached out to the black community after Zimmerman. They reached out to the Hispanic community trying to promote the American breaking amnesty. Rich, when will we get a reach around?

  8. Notice: A Mr. Robert Delaware on July 16, 2013, filed a Freedom of Information Act with the NTSB, requesting records/documents/faxes/emails relating to KTVU's communications with the National Transportation Safety Board. As of today, they will receive a response in 2 weeks. Tom and Lee, you guys better hope there isn't something in writing, otherwise you guys are THROUGH!!!

  9. Yes 3:42, I'm sure that when and if the video is taken down it will be an enormous coverup because none of us can remember exactly was on it. Do you like to replay it to remind yourself how offended you are?

  10. DAMMIT, 5:35. I blame YOU for the nasally-sprayed coffee all over my laptop--caused by reading your post-of-the-year-nominee reply.