KIRO TV Reporter Chris Halsne Should Apologize for an Inaccurate Story That Damaged the Reputation of a Custodian at Leschi Elementary, Says Media Watchdog Group

Comments

1
There is a golden rule about local tv news - if the term "Eyewitness" is in the title it has a very small chance of being useful. All local news is dreadful as far as I have seen but the eyewitless folks seem to scrape just a bit further down into the barrel than most. Not sure if that is just a coincidence or planning.
2
What frankdawg said.

I'm thinking the goat-blowing metaphor needs to be dusted off.
3
Instead of a mock trial KIRO should be sued.
4
Wow, that egregious even for a shitty third rate local news outlet.

@3 This guy is gonna get paid.
5
@3, public litigation I hope and no quiet out of court settlement would be appropriate.

And this is one of the many reasons I don't watch the local news in Seattle. It's all tabloid news coverage and "be scared and terrified" consumer news tips. None of the four local TV stations have any credibility.
6
Halsne...what a schmuck.
7
Local TV news sucks just about everywhere. It's a much more valid rationale for the "kill your TV" mentality than all those terrible CSI shows combined.
8
@3, I suspect after this hearing any number of good attorneys would be delighted to take Harris's case on a contingency basis - he may have one quietly on retainer already, advising him to let this process reach its conclusion in order to gather the most evidence possible.

Eli, thanks so much for aggregating so beautifully the materials presented to the public at Saturday's hearing. Fascinating to read that one extended family was the source of so many complaints against several Leschi staff.
9
...yep, mr. harris should sue kiro tv... halsne, and the tv station he worked for in oklahoma, was sued for defamation of character of a local veterinarian - the jury in that case awarded the veterinarian 6.5 million dollars (the award was appealed)... it was around that time that halsne came to work for kiro... the wa news council hearing was great as a "shaming tactic", but without kiro really suffering any monetary loss from this incidence, once the dust settles, they'll (kiro & halsne) will be right back to business as usual...
10
This is not the first time this asshat has been accused of inaccurate story details. He had issues with this in a previous place of employment and it went to court.
Although I am normally not in favor of lawsuits, I hope in this case he does file one against KIRO and Halsne and takes them to the cleaners.
11
"African Americans are arrested at a rate two to three times higher than that for the general population."

Which is, of course, would have no relation to their higher crime rates….

Halsn's biggest mistake was getting in between a fight among crazy black people.
12
Did he lick any door knobs while he was sneaking around the school? That's what real journalists do.
13
As my dad used to tell us: if you're unhappy with the TV station, call the advertisers that run commercials during the show in question and let them know your opinion. That'll get the station's attention real quick.
14
@2,

So KIRO isn't the goat-fucking station?

I am optimistic that a lawyer will take Harris's case.

And does the agreement to use the News Council instead of the courts mean that KIRO is off the hook for criminal wrong-doing? Halsne's words may have stayed on the legal side, but not getting permission to film sounds like it violated the law.
15
I'd expect more from the Mormon Church.
16
I do hope this Harris man can comfortably retire on the proceeds of his defamation lawsuit, at KIRO's great expense and humiliation. Personally, I'd sue them back to candles and crayons.
17
Watch our state television station, TVW, for a broadcast of the Leschi v KIRO 7 public complaint hearing sometime this week. It is still listed as "coming soon" but a specific date/time will be assigned soon:

http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_…

The News Council conducts "mock hearings" in journalism classrooms at high schools and colleges around the state. This case, in particular, will show aspiring journalists what NOT to do if they want any professional credibility.
18
@12: You can comment on the Stranger's journalistic chops when you bring home a Pulitzer.

I've never watched any of the local news in Seattle, so I have no idea how bad it sucks. That said, this guy appears to be a first-class shithead. How does he still have a job?
I lost any remaining shred of faith I had in local TV news when a reporter in Chicago asked me on camera if I would say I was "outraged" by an increase in liquor and cigarette taxes. I instead told him that I liked the new tax rate. When I watched the segment that night my bit wasn't in there but he did have 4 or 5 people saying "I'm outraged." Moral of the story: don't believe anything you see on TV. It's all bullshit.
19
This is part and parcel of the local media; tv news may be worse, but I've seen this lack of all the facts reporting from print media too (present company usually excepted).

15: KIRO isn't owned by the Mormons anymore; it's part of Cox. Certainly deep pockets for a justifiable libel suit.
20
@19, you're right. KIRO radio is Bonneville, and KIRO TV is Cox, weird. Cox is prides itself on being family-owned, and is super private. A couple letters, and this guy should be out on his butt.
21
Years ago, KIRO's "investigative" "journalists" "uncovered" a "scandal" wherein the nonprofit my mother worked for was all but outright accused of murdering old people and destroying the evidence.

So yeah, I've never really been fond of their "news" team.
22
It's illegal to record someone without their consent in Washington. How's this guy not being charged?
23
At a time when structural industry decline has pushed so many journalists out of work, for KIRO to allow Halsne to keep his job after publishing such a gross piece of hackery is unconscionable. They need to fire him now and give his position to one of the many, many people who deserve it more.
24
If they fire him, they will just get another talking head to do the same thing.
25
That's a good point. The reporter doesn't decide what gets put on the air. This guy Halsne seems to go town to town getting sued so there are indications of what he "brings to" the job, but management says what goes in to the story (Editor?) and what gets shown.

The real target here should be the big shots that control the media.

This whole episode is shamefull.
26
Thank you Mr. Sanders. "Mr. Chet", as the kids call him deserves so much more than this unbridled bullshit. As a parent of two children who look at him as school custodian ( in the larger sense - less akin to "janitor", as Piss Halsne likes to refer to him ), I am very grateful to have him around. His presence is reassuring in a school community that unfortunately has more than it's fair share of volatile families/students, even if this family represents the worst of them. I feel safer, as does EVERY OTHER Leschi Elementary community member I know, knowing he is there watching out for our kids.
With your Pulitzer prize earning self so succinctly highlighting the harm that was haplessly dealt Mr. Chet and in turn, our community, one can only hope that some kick ass lawyer will get wind of this and take the opportunity to sue the hell out of Kiro7. All that said, I can reassure all of you that Mr. Chet is not some sad, 'woe is me' victim- he knows he has the full support of the entire school, he knows that this is a personal vendetta by one family, and he knows that Halsne made a mistake by taking up this pathetic family's cause without "investigating" a fucking thing.
27
If you don't like what Channel 7 (?) news did, then call them and let them know you think they're dicks and turn off their station. Then call their advertisers and tell them you're boycotting their product because of what KIRO TV did.
28
The WNC invites all Stranger readers to watch the hearing on TVW.org. It is posted online at: http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive…

Watch the proceedings and then go to the WNC's website and vote in our online ballot: http://wanewscouncil.org/leschi-vs-kiro/ Feel free to add comments. Voting will be open until June 30. After that we'll post results online.

This is a way of expanding the concept of media accountability to the general public, in addition to the News Council's Hearings Board. We also let the audience at the hearing vote and will post those results this week.
29
Halsney is just a "hired gun" who "kills" by innuendo, it is Todd Mokhtari who is the responsible party. Mokhtari is the news director and was told after each airing that the piece was grossly misleading [at best] AND WHY it was grossly misleading. After explicit explanations showing Mokhtari's slimy news department just exactly WHY they were wrong, he would answer with a simple "we stand by our story". The only problem is that there never was a story!

So when Mokhtari says that they "stand by" their discredited story, I have to assume that he is making another misleading statement. The story that they are "standing by" is not the scumball reports aired about Mr. Harris. The story they are standing by is the story as described by one family with a significantly twisted view of the world. Yes, that family DID shop their story. And Todd Mokhtari is saying that broadcasting this family's twisted view of reality is what they are "standing by". Mokhtari is not denying that the charges from the family are inaccurate...that has already been proved over and over again. He is just reporting the charges in a salacious, deliberately misleading manner and stating that the charges are being made by real people. Notice the care with which Mokhtari has insisted the story be nuanced. They always have the Howard family members making the charges.

These reports contain one of the most disgusting pieces of yellow journalism I've ever seen. And, I think this scene illuminates the perverse care with which Mokhtari oversaw this piece. Scene: Mr. Harris is properly assisting the recess supervisor to help deescalate a potential fight. The camera operator catches these proper actions while surreptitiously filming the young boys and girls from an obscure location up the cliff and across the street from the school. A bus drives by and blocks the scene. When the bus has passed the film shows that one of the children [the one by Mr. Harris] who was being deescalated is now stomping away from his adversary. Halsney states that he doesn't know why the child stomped away from the scene. But, he assures us, "somebody" has a good idea. They cut to one of the members of the family that has been relentlessly bullying the Leschi community. “(Harris) has a propensity to harass little children,” said (not KIRO but.....) Rev. Robert Howard." By the way, if you have ever seen Mr. Harris' work ar Leschi Elementary you would know how bizarre and absurd that statement is.

In this example, did Todd Mokhtari let his staff make any accusations? No. In fact, Halsney states that he doesn't know why the child is stomping away. Of course, he then splices in another bullying statement by the Howards with their twisted views.

So, Halsney only reports the bizarre accusations that are given to him by the bullying family. Yes, these are the same people who seem to have major incessant complaints against all their children's teachers, the administrators, the office staff, and the janitor. [It reminds me of the story of the mother who was bragging of her son in the marching band. She said, "Did you notice that everyone was out of step except my Johnny?"]

The most telling thing I have read about this family is that their houses are not in the Leschi Elementary boundary. It would be the most simple matter to tell Seattle Public Schools that the children will go to their neighborhood school. Therefore we know that even with their incessant and obnoxious bullying, these folks still WANT THEIR CHILDREN TO GO TO LESCHI!

If that isn't an endorsement of Leschi Elementary, I don't know what is.

Hiphopopotamus
30
7 arrests? That doesn't bother anyone? Even if you chalked half of them up to racism, as is implied, 3 or 4 arrests? Most adults working in schools don't have multiple arrest histories.
31
Chris Halsne is a real creep. Last year he pulled similar crap—attacking a local food bank of all things. The FB is a good operation—low budget, powered mainly by volunteers, helping out lots of elderly and poor people. Halsne had his usual MO: hidden cameras, ambush interviews, etc. After he secretly followed a volunteer home and filmed her unloading a car full of food into her garage one evening, Halsne decided she must be stealing. He ignored the FB manager’s explanation that the volunteer was acting responsibly—she was storing the goods her garage, rather than keeping them in the van, so that the groceries wouldn’t be stolen before she had the chance to deliver them to shut-ins the next day. It was standard procedure. But the truth didn’t fit his story needs, so he left out the explanation and called that nice, helpful lady volunteer a thief on TV. What a creep.

It’s great that he gets busted every once in awhile, as in this case. Why KIRO keeps him on is a mystery to me. Maybe they figure even bad PR is good?
32
Chris Halsne is a real creep. Last year he pulled similar crap—attacking a local food bank of all things. The FB is a good operation—low budget, powered mainly by volunteers, helping out lots of elderly and poor people. Halsne had his usual MO: hidden cameras, ambush interviews, etc. After he secretly followed a volunteer home and filmed her unloading a car full of food into her garage one evening, Halsne decided she must be stealing. He ignored the FB manager’s explanation that the volunteer was acting responsibly—she was storing the goods her garage, rather than keeping them in the van, so that the groceries wouldn’t be stolen before she had the chance to deliver them to shut-ins the next day. It was standard procedure. But the truth didn’t fit his story needs, so he left out the explanation and called that nice, helpful lady volunteer a thief on TV. What a creep.

It’s great that he gets busted every once in awhile, as in this case. Why KIRO keeps him on is a mystery to me. Maybe they figure even bad PR is good?
33
As a former friend of two veteran journalists, I have heard industry gossip about local TV news stations for decades. Like any industry, there are good employees and awful ones. I was personally stalked, cyberstalked and haunted for 7 years by a married employee at KiroTV, part of the same investigative team being discussed here. He pulled background checks on me, my family members, neighbors, men I had dated etc. He showed up at neighborhood places I hung out at (will never know how he knew where I was), and basically tried to silence me when I wanted to expose him. I appealed to KiroTV HR and Management for 3 years, demanding my privacy be protected. Nothing, until I sent a scanned copy of my unethically pulled backgound check to KiroTV and to Cox. Then I got unhappy emails from the same producer having (I guess) lost that ability. Yet all remaining employees in their news room have the ability to look up anyone, anytime for anything, with NO recourse of any kind. So your credit, home addresses, jobs, ssn numbers, neighbors, property can be seen by any newsroom employee, with a push of a button. I believe this particular producer looked up tens of thousands of peope in his career there. In order to ensure my privacy I changed all my email accounts, my phone numbers, moved, left a series of jobs, don't list any current information on Facebook or LinkedIn and basically live a life of being underground. Even sold my car as it was too easy to spot on the street in my neighborhood. KiroTV gets buckets of money from advertisers. If you want this kind of public abuse to stop, don't appeal to the station or their owners, they simply don't care and never will - appeal to their advertisers.
34
If you would like to help KiroTV continue to swirl down the toilet, post your comments or copy those you have written here, on the watercolor section of the TV NEWS industry's homie website, TVSPY.

Be assured that every other news org in the US and beyond will see your words. Use names, dates, etc.

http://www.mediabistro.com/TVSpy-Waterco…
35
We should start a "Chris Halsne is a douchebag" facebook page. I would join that. FYI - here are some of the links for the KIRO sponsors, in case you want to send e-mails that you are boycotting their services.

AutoTrader - http://press.autotrader.com/
Kudzu - http://www.kudzu.com/feedback.do

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