On Friday, October 29, KETK-56, the NBC affiliate in Tyler, Texas, issued an on-air apology in response to GLAAD's request that the station take responsibility for an appalling eight-minute, anti-gay segment that appeared on Wednesday morning's newscast. The segment originated on-the-air of radio partner KTBB 92.1 FM and was simulcast on KETK.
On Thursday, October 28, KTBB President Paul Gleiser issued a written apology on behalf of the station.
Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns was originally slated to appear on KETK this morning, but scheduling conflicts prevented him from being interviewed. GLAAD then asked Chuck Smith, deputy director of Equality Texas, to be a part of the segment and he graciously agreed. Chuck did a great job of articulating why it's so important for news outlets to take seriously their obligation to report responsibly and certainly never in such a way that could cause harm to an individual - self-inflicted harm or violence justified by what a person sees in the media.
From Chuck Smith, Deputy Director, Equality Texas:
“I think it’s important given recent events with the loss of lives of young people that journalists in television and radio be responsible in what goes over the air and how it might affect people. I think it’s especially important. There are newspaper articles today in Tyler about Tyler schools’ anti-bullying programs. How can those programs succeed if the daily news station is asking people if accepting gays is the downfall of America? It’s contradictory to the efforts that are being made to try and reduce and eliminating bullying in schools or how people feel about themselves that it might cause them to harm themselves.”
GLAAD appreciates that KETK management realizes that Chuck was speaking to them, to KTBB and to all other reputable news organizations who share the responsibility for reporting in such a way that does not cause harm to audiences.
GLAAD also appreciates that KETK was not content to let Chuck do all the damage control for the station. Immediately after Chuck spoke as to why questions like Wednesday's have no business on the airwaves of a reputable news organization, KETK General Manager Dave Tillery appeared on-camera to acknowledge the station's irresponsibility with regard to simulcasting KTBB host Garth Maier's Talkback segment on Wednesday.
From Dave Tillery, General Manager, KETK:
“This past Wednesday, our radio partner – KTBB – presented a Talkback question regarding homosexuality. That question was also simulcast during our morning news broadcast. Many of our viewers and their [KTBB’s] listeners found the wording of that question to be offensive. We understand and respect their comments. We have discussed these comments with KTBB and agree that the question was poorly worded. For that, they have apologized. And since the question also appeared on our air, we are sorry for any offense that was taken.”
GLAAD has called both stations to thank them for swiftly apologizing for Wednesday's highly-offensive segment. We trust that both stations will learn from this mistake and that future segments will not cross the line that Wednesday's did.