Below is an Aug. 14 email that Kalie Klaysmat, director of the Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police, sent to KTVA news director Bert Rudman expressing concerns about the now infamous KTVA reporter Charlo Greene’s coverage of the pot legalization initiative that will be on the upcoming general election ballot.
In a story that’s gone viral, Greene, who for months had been reporting on the initiative, announced on air Sunday night that she was the owner of Alaska Cannabis Club and that she was quitting her job. “And as for this job, well, not that I have a choice but … fuck it, I quit,” she said on air after reporting a story about medical marijuana. The anchor apologized for Greene, and then after a commercial break, the station ran yet another story reported by Greene about marijuana.
Klaysmat’s email was distributed by the group, “Big Marijuana/Big Mistake,” during a press conference on Monday, where members of the group spoke about being “shocked” by Greene’s antics and about being “saddened” that the public has so far received such biased reporting from one of the main news outlets in the state.
In addition to the email below, which Rudman never responded to, some of the other members of the group fighting the initiative had met with Rudman to express concern about Greene’s coverage. She wasn’t pulled off the beat.
The Alaska-based telecom giant GCI bought KTVA along with two other news stations in the state in 2013. According to GCI President Ron Duncan, the intention was to “invest our resources and transform” the stations “into a news and entertainment leader unparalleled in Alaska.” Immediately, the new station got rid of nearly all of the seasoned staff and replaced them with new reporters, many of them young and from out of state.
Since buying the station, KTVA’s rating have been flat according to various indicators. KTUU is still the overwhelmingly dominate news channel in the state.
“We always knew that ratings would be a long, uphill battle,” said GCI’s spokesperson David Morris, adding that there’s a firewall between GCI and KTVA. Still as owners of the station, GCI is “deeply apologetic” about the incident.
Here’s the email:
Dear Mr. Rudman,
I am attaching a copy of a press release which is being sent to the media this morning. I am sending this to you individually because I would like to ask that if KTVA chooses to report the story, you consider assigning someone other than Charlo Greene to cover it. I had occasion to speak with Ms. Greene a few weeks ago when I was asked by the Vote No( Big Marijuana/Big Mistake) campaign to attempt to explain to her statistics which had been provided to our association by the State Department of Corrections regarding incarceration rates associated with marijuana possession. Ms. Greene’s bias on the marijuana issue was apparent, and she was not only argumentative with me — telling me I did not KNOW that the information I was relaying about concurrent convictions was accurate (when I was in fact relaying information received directly from DOC)–, she claimed that someone from the campaign had lied in a public statement on the topic. I do not know what was said by the campaign, but I found her position that someone lied to be overly judgmental for a reporter. It is unreasonable to believe that someone in the public spotlight would knowingly prevaricate when relaying information beyond the scope of their personal experience… The marijuana debate is a complex and emotional issue and there are many reasons for a person to be inaccurate in a statement that are not lying. Ms Greene’s job is to evenhandedly report inconsistencies, not judge motive. When she spoke with me she seemed only interested in information that supported her point of view. She did not explore contrary information; she attacked it. That she seems to be the primary reporter covering marijuana issues and has such a strong personal opinion on this very divisive topic causes me to question the station’s editorial judgment. I was a card carrying member of the press for many years, and her style of reporting is certainly not the standard I was expected to adhere to. I thank you for your consideration of this request. I am reluctant to write this letter, but felt you needed to be aware of my perception of bias being exhibited by one of your reporters.
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