WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Refusing to Relinquish Control to the Powerful

Jun 21, 2016

Waco, Texas television station KWTX was interviewing former Baylor University president and chancellor Ken Starr when Starr’s crisis management expert interrupted, pulled him aside, and then had the reporter re-ask a question so Starr could give a more polished answer.  The station decided to air (and post) the entire exchange, giving the audience a chance to see how the consultant’s advice altered Starr’s response.

The Shop Talk panelists commend the station for sharing the entire piece.

Jasmine Crighton said the station documented what happened and showed it to the audience.  She also said the crisis management expert initially asked the news director to edit out the original Q & A.  She praised the station for not giving in.

Rich Egger pointed out the consultant told the station she wanted to make sure it did not mis-edit Starr’s response.  So he applauds the decision to do no editing and make the entire video public.  And he wonders why Starr was not coached before the interview to anticipate the question – of if he was coached ahead of time, why he didn’t do a better job of responding.

Jonathan Ahl praised the station for asking a tough question and showing the situation they were put in during the course of getting an answer.  He criticized the consultant, saying Starr’s initial answer was rather innocuous and likely would have been forgotten had she not made a big deal out of the situation.  Ahl said the story also underscores the role journalists play in holding the powerful accountable.