Alaska TV station cancels newscasts over Joe Miller comments

Anchorage Daily NewsNovember 11, 2010 

ANCHORAGE — Two newscasts from Anchorage's CBS news affiliate, KTVA-TV Channel 11, were canceled Wednesday so staff could deal with fallout from a phone message left by a station employee on the voice mail of a staff member working on Senate candidate Joe Miller's campaign Oct. 28, the station announced on its website.

Wednesday's 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. broadcasts were canceled because of time constraints related to an internal discussion on journalistic ethics, according to a message the station's general manager, Jerry Bever, posted at KTVA.com.

Bever also read the statement on the air before the scheduled 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts. Programming then switched to reruns of "The New Adventures of Old Christine," starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Bever said the 10 p.m. newscast would go on as scheduled.

Two days after the voice mail message was inadvertently left, the Miller campaign released a recording of the message, a conversation between two station employees that includes a reference to the possibility of child molesters at a Miller event.

The campaign claimed the conversation contained evidence of media bias against Miller, as did ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Fox News.

"Events over the last week and a half have been challenging for our station," Bever wrote in the Wednesday statement. "As the result of a conversation within our newsroom that was accidentally recorded and released to the public, our newsroom credibility has been called into question, and the public's trust in us has been tested."

Palin gave the story national attention on Fox News when she said "the CBS reporters, the affiliate in Alaska, conspired to make up stories about Joe Miller. We have the tape."

Bever denied the staff members were conspiring against Miller.

About two days after the muddled recording was made public, two KTVA news producers were "no longer with the station," according to the Associated Press. It was unclear if they had been fired.

Bever, KTVA news director Staci Feger, and other staff were in a meeting and unavailable Wednesday afternoon to comment. Neither had returned voice mail messages by late Wednesday.

"Our job as journalists carry a far greater responsibility than that of media personalities and pundits," Bever writes in his posted message. "We have been given the public's trust ... now we must keep it."

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