We think it’s time that CBS 5 retire its goofy, focus-group driven moniker of “Telling It Like It Is.” No matter how many times the very capable anchor team of Sean McLaughlin and Catherine Anaya say it, it’s just not believable anymore.
What has happened to this pioneer, venerable Arizona station that brought Arizonans the likes of Linda Turley, Roger Downey, Kent Dana and of course, the “Wallace and Ladmo Show?”
At the end of the day, you are only as credible as the team behind you. And on the credibility scale, CBS 5 no longer registers.
Are the number crunchers of parent company Meredith Corp. back in Des Moines putting the screws on journalist integrity in exchange for corporate profit? Or is management asleep at the switch while its on-air talent is using them to build their video resumes for greener pastures?
Front and center in this mess is VP/General Manager Ed Munson and his New Mexico import News Director, Michelle Donaldson. As many longtime Channel 5 insiders will tell you, management is letting the inmates run the Channel 5 asylum.
Chief exhibit is the maniacal Morgan Loew, 5i Team Reporter. It seems Morgan is itching to get out of his native Arizona and head to the network big-time. Why hang around dusty ‘ole Phoenix when the glamour and fame the glitzy 24-hour news grind awaits?
But in order to do that, you need to gain national attention – stints with national media shows – venues like MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show.”
It now appears that Loew has found his ticket. And Munson and Donaldson are getting played by this lawyer-trained reporter.
Loew sees his passage to the networks is the “Private Prison Conspiracy Express.” Sure, the topic of private prisons is fair game in light of the escapes last month from the MTC run prison in Kingman. Sure, it’s fair to explore the Department of Corrections’ 2005 inmate classification system and policy of putting higher risk inmates in non state-run facilities. All game, all valid.
But straight-forward reporting won’t get Loew on a fancy Times Square set or on the other side of the glass at 30 Rock.
He has to make things up and then find complicit folks to help Loew out.
Case point example: On CBS 5’s Monday night private prison installment, Morgan Loew struts out a former CCA employee (from 2006-2007) to help Loew make his pre-determined case. And of course, the former employee dutifully does just that. What Loew does not – and his asleep at the switch bosses Donaldson and Munson allow – is “Tell It Like It Is.”
You see, the former employee is reportedly in litigation against CCA. Even more amazing is that this former employee, Robert McDonald, was a Democrat candidate for State Senate in LD18 hoping to unseat state Sen. Russell Pearce, the author of SB1070.
Did CBS 5 ever disclose any of these truths? No.
And in Tuesday’s night titillating installment, (how could anyone not miss the promos all night long) Loew does not stop. He harrumphs that CCA will be the biggest benefactor by reaping “millions” from SB1070.
In Loew’s own words (from CBS5 website): “According to campaign finance records, CCA executives and employees contributed more than $1,000 to the governor’s re-election campaign. The company’s political action committee and its lobbyists contributed another $60,000 to Brewer’s top legislative priority, Proposition 100, a sales tax to help avoid budget cuts to education. Caroline Isaacs from the American Friends Service Committee, which advocates for social justice issues, said the money is evidence of influence the company has on the governor.”
The truth is that Prop 100 raised a total of $2,379,704.90! Only $10,000 came from CCA, which is Pinal County’s largest private employer with nearly 3,000 employees. CCA does not house any inmates from the State of Arizona. And if Prop 100 did not pass back in May, the Corrections budget would have been cut by an additional $63 million.
Moreover, Loew never establishes who Caroline Isaacs is. Apparently she is in Philadelphia and according to AFSC’s own website, “AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.” Sounds like a group with a definite political ax to grind.
Also, last night Loew does not “Tell It Like It Is” when he said that Chuck Coughlin, President of HighGround, Inc., backed out of an on-camera interview commitment.
Remember those fuzzy emails that Loew flashed up on the screen last night? Well, the reason they were fuzzy is because there never was a commitment for an on-camera interview. Showing those emails to viewers would have told the truth.
Loew had been told time and again that the firm does not handle federal work for CCA nor did anyone at HighGround lobby the Governor or her staff regarding SB1070 on behalf of CCA.
Finally, Loew finished his piece last night by stating that the Governor’s campaign recently cancelled a campaign advertisement buy on CBS5. Neither Loew nor anyone else from CBS 5 ever called the campaign to get the truth. The fact is that the Governor Brewer 2010 campaign never made a buy on CBS 5 for its current commercial. There was nothing to cancel.
So, Loew’s version of “Telling It Like It Is” is as follows:
- Pretend that there is a direct connection to the Governor signing SB1070 and private prisons, but never provide any facts to collaborate the assertion.
- Misrepresent a private prison company’s financial donations to an overwhelmingly successful state sales tax campaign.
- Prop up a disgruntled former CCA employee who also happens to be running as a Democrat for the State Senate against the architect of SB1070.
- Inaccurately state that the Governor’s campaign recently pulled’ an advertisement from the station over all of this.
Our advise to CBS 5 management: Don’t show this blog to your next focus group.
They may not think so much of your slogan after all.
And for those of you – ”which is most Arizonans – who missed CBS 5’s two-part private prison expose at 10 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday nights, don’t worry. Just tune in soon to MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show.” Morgan Loew is on his way to makeup and will be waiting in the green room.