Haggard allegations coverage
I'm looking into the media coverage of the allegations that New Life Church Pastor Ted Haggard was conducting a homosexual affair with a Denver man who described himself as a male prostitute. Haggard denies the allegation, but says the church will conduct an independent investigation of the charges.
Pretty seedy stuff, but Denver NBC affiliate KUSA/Channel 9 was working on the story for two months and didn't have the corroboration to go forward with it... until the accuser appeared on Peter Boyles' show on KHOW (630 AM) Wednesday morning.
Here's a link to KUSA's coverage. Check out the unedited interview with Haggard.
I talked to Tim Ryan, KUSA's assistant news director, about it and he said that when the allegations were going to become public, they felt OK doing the story once they had Haggard on camera denying the charges.
"It became public and we decided we would do the story if Pastor Haggard responded to it, and he did," Ryan said. "We presented it as such: There’s an allegation and there’s a response."
Paul Asay, our religion reporter, talked to KHOW. They said they put the accuser on the air Wednesday morning anonymously (and not naming Haggard at that point, either), because they knew KUSA was working on the story. Boyles had the accuser, Mike Jones, on again this morning after KUSA did its story.
So it appears KHOW says it's a story because KUSA was working on a story, and KUSA says it's a story because KHOW put him on the air.
Locally, I'm told KOAA/Channels 5&30 did a short story this morning. I didn't see anything on the other two, and KOAA didn't do a follow for 11 a.m., even though they had a story on Amendment 43 and Ref. I. The Gazette picked it up, citing KUSA's story.
I haven't reached KOAA news director Cindy Aubrey, but I talked to KKTV/Channel 11 news director Nick Matesi. He said they didn't do a story this morning because all they had to go on was KUSA's report. They're weighing doing a story for noon or 5:30 because New Life Church is planning to have a press conference or a formal denial.
"Obviously, anybody can say anything about anybody," Matesi said. "The question is, at what point does it become news. The reaction is almost what’s making news at this point. And on that basis, we are tentatively planning on having something in our noon (newscast)."
UPDATE: KKTV did a story near the top of its noon newscast. Anchor Kimberly Price said "Channel 11 has not been able to independently verify any of the claims and the man making the claims has not released any concrete evidence to us. Therefore at this time, we are not going to repeat specifically what he said."