The Wright Response - May 15, 2014

By: Mike Wright Email
By: Mike Wright Email
The recent deadly shooting in Hearne has garnered national attention, but it

KBTX General Manager, Mike Wright

There is nothing good that could ever come from the stories aired and posted related to the death of Pearlie Golden from Hearne. The headline was astonishing: a police officer shoots a 93-year old woman, she later dies, and our hearts go out to the families of all involved.

The story gets more interesting when the city council of Hearne meets, the officer is relieved of his duties before being charged with a crime, and to add an even stranger twist, they meet on Election Day, and after the vote, three council members are voted out! Because of the vote to oust officer Stem? Don't know, but because of all that is odd surrounding this case, you wouldn't have to think TOO hard to say, "Did they meet Saturday, Election Day, because they thought it might somehow improve their chances of re-election?" Or had the results been decided because of voting earlier in the day? Did the council, no matter what, simply say, "guilty or not, two incidents of this nature in a relatively short amount of time is just too much to risk moving forward?" We don't know.

But what is still clear that, regardless, racial tensions rise, accusations are thrown in almost any direction, and in spite of all that is done, Ms. Golden is not coming back, and Officer Stem's career is likely very much in jeopardy. Yet, families remain to deal with the loss of loved ones, and other families live in fear.

KBTX was not immune from crossfire. At the very beginning of it all, we received this comment from SG:

"What's the point of having a comment section on your news articles if you delete all the comments? just don't have a comments section it's that simple, if you're too gutless to know what the public has to say about an item."

Too gutless? That's a little harsh. We had to close down the section because of the creative nature through which incredibly foul language made it through our filter. Racial slurs were rampant, and as usual, finger-pointing on all sides contributed nothing to the story. We shut it down because many people posting couldn't behave. This person was nice to respond to me and I read the comments placed by this individual. It was fine. The others were disgraceful. Basically, we got tired of fooling with it.

RB was irritate that we reported on protest groups coming from the Houston area, and I give it to you exactly how we got it:

"once again shame on your station. You have allowed an extreme racist as well as the black panthers to have the spotlight on your news not once but several time without you not even knowing any of the facts around this tragic situation. But yet to you his means nothing. The truth is shame shame on your station for doing this."

Of course we will report on all developments with this story, and that was one of them. It's always funny to me when shots are taken at KBTX -- unwarranted -- about the whole "liberal media thing." So like our colleagues at Fox News, and frankly many others, we report, you decide. We won't turn our head the other way. We'll report the information. You decide what you think about it and if you want to read it.

And unfortunately, the comment that got to me most was this one from LW:

"The story doesn't say why or what she was doing. Just bc she's elderly doesn't give her freedom to do as she pleases. Maybe everyone should hold their comments until the entire story is released. And maybe KBTX should refrain from reporting until they have more to give instead of causing uproar for possibly no reason. This is where retaliation comes into play."

So we should have refrained from reporting this incident until we have the entire story? We STILL don't have the entire story, and had KBTX turned the other way, how would that have gone over? It would have violated everything we stand for, everything we are called to do in the public interest. KBTX coverage was carried on news organizations throughout the state, on networks, and across the world. If we didn't, they would have, and sometimes, regardless of what you may think, their take is quite different, indeed seeking to fuel the fire vs. reporting the facts.

At times like this, we are all watching what happens in Hearne, and as with all things, we all have a stake in what happens here. May we live in peace and harmony, and let justice always prevail.

Your opinion matters to the family of KBTX News 3.

KBTX-TV Channel 3 4141 E. 29th Street Bryan, TX 77802 Phone: (979) 846-7777 Fax: (979) 846-1490 News Fax: (979) 846-1888
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