The Marty Griffin Reputation Rehabilitation tour continued unabated last week with the KDKA reporter's second pro-church story. It comes in the aftermath of the Rev. Brent Dugan's suicide following KDKA promotions for a Griffin report that accused the minister of "public and illegal sexual behavior."For more background, here's the P-G's initial reporting. And Rob's previous reporting. Seems that our boy Marty had (or thought he had) some sort of "gotcha" story on Pastor Dugan and the story took a tragic turn.
Promos for the report were broadcast for several days last week. They showed Griffin confronting Dugan about his alleged visits to an adult bookstore. It was unclear from the promos what other details the report would reveal.How much damage? Read this statement from Jim Mead, Pastor of the Pittsburgh Presbytery.
During the 11 p.m. news Thursday, Griffin said his investigation "uncovered illicit, possibly illegal, activity by a local minister, activities which, at the very least, violated the rules of his denomination."
It's the use of key words -- possibly illegal, at the very least -- that call into question whether the report was worth doing in the first place. If the best Griffin could dig up was a trip to an adult bookstore (not illegal) and violation of church rules, then there's not much in it to serve the public interest. It comes off looking like another "gotcha"-style story designed for no benefit except the TV station's ratings.
What aired Thursday did not mention Dugan by name; he wasn't shown on screen. His church and denomination were not named. But Dugan was pictured in promos that aired for several days earlier on KDKA. The damage was done.
Brent had been missing since late Wednesday afternoon, shortly after he learned that he would be featured in an undercover television news story by KDKA that would make sensational revelations of what KDKA alleged was misconduct. Members of the congregation made every imaginable effort to reach Brent through friends and family members, and a missing persons report was filed, but to no avail. Ultimately, KDKA decided not to air the story after they learned that Brent may take his own life. It is the view of many, including me, that KDKA may well be said to have crossed boundaries of acceptable journalistic practices in its development and treatment of this story . . . and its treatment of our pastor who was its subject. On Friday evening we were notified by the State Police that Brent had been found lifeless as a result of a self-induced overdose of medication.I don't think anyone can argue that Marty didn't cross a serious journalistic line. Thus, I guess, the need for "The Marty Griffin Reputation Rehabilitation Tour."
But take a look at how much Marty screws that one up. Owen begins with the KDKA piece itself:
"Tonight one of the area's most hallowed churches, the mother church of the Catholic church, is the scene of a crime," said Patrice King Brown, reading the newscast's top story on Nov. 22. "Thieves have stolen everything from the vestments of the priests to the poor boxes from St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland, virtually anything that was not nailed down."And then he rattles off all of the (very serious) problems with Marty's reporting.
Problem No. 1: By using present tense, this script left parishioners with the mistaken impression that all these things had been stolen recently, said the Rev. Thomas Burke of St. Paul. Burke was interviewed for the report and said he was asked to list the things that were stolen, including Oriental rugs, a bride's honeymoon tickets and candle money. But the way the report presented the information, it appeared to have all happened recently and within a short period of time.So the chronology is skewed. That should've been enough to tank the story right there, but there's another, vastly larger, problem:
Problem No. 2: "Thieves started hitting this church a year ago," Griffin reported.
The reality: The Oriental rugs were stolen more than five years ago, the bride's tickets were taken three years ago. The vestments were stolen last year and theft of poor box and candle money has been going on "since eternity," Burke said.
Problem No. 3: "Back in the day when I was growing up, when I was an altar boy, I could do this with no problem, come up to St. Paul's [sic] Cathedral 24 hours a day, seven days a week and go inside. Not anymore," Griffin said, yanking on the locked church doors at 6 p.m. "They have to lock the doors."Whah? Didn't Marty Griffin check to see why the doors were closed that day? Didn't he bother to check to see when the doors are usually closed? Either he did or he didn't - either way this is bad bad reporting. I'm only a blogger and even I know that.
In reality, the church doors are normally open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., but because it was the day before Thanksgiving, the church staff left early and the doors were locked at 5:30 p.m. The usual 8 p.m. closing time has been in effect for at least three years, and Burke, 36, doesn't remember the doors ever being unlocked 24 hours a day.
Why would KDKA let such absolutely shoddy work go out over it's airwaves? The word "reprehesible" comes to mind. As does "incompetent" and "garbage."
And tell me again: why, after such grotesque blunders as the death of Pastor Dugan and the story about the "crime scene" at the Cathedral, is Marty Griffin even allowed in the KDKA building anymore?
I'm just asking.
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