By Peter Jamison
Those who call the shots at San Francisco's KRON-TV can't say they weren't warned. Howard Rosenberg -- who had been booked to appear on the station with co-author Charles Feldman in January to discuss the pair's new book, No Time to Think: The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle -- has been criticizing television programs for years. Rosenberg was, after all, television critic at the Los Angeles Times, and won a Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1985.
That didn't stop the station from doing an about-face and canceling its scheduled interview with Rosenberg and Feldman. KRON's reason? As reported in LA Observed, station news director Aaron Pero told the authors' publicist in an e-mail, "I am not all that interested in a book that is going to be critical of what we do as a business." Makes perfect sense -- why would any news organization of integrity be interested in representing conflicting points of view?
Once Rosenberg and Feldman had sent Pero a blistering e-mail in response to this slight -- and once LAO had gotten hold of the item -- KRON started backtracking at full speed. Rosenberg e-mailed SF Weekly this morning with an update:
"...after receiving our email (and perhaps seeing the LA Observed blog), KRON did offer us a weekend interview through a news producer. However, given the news director's stated position on our book, we decided to decline. Our thinking: It's possible that KRON, to cover itself in the wake of the publicity this is getting, would either tape an interview with us that would never run or exile a 20-second bite of the interview to some obscure spot where it would not be seen."
Rosenberg continued, "Let's put this in context. Our book is a tiny blip on the panoramic landscape of major issues facing all of us today. But the media issue here is significant: It would be one thing for the news director to have killed our interview because he thought the book stunk or we stunk or whatever. That would be entirely fair. It's quite another to kill it -- as he said he did -- because he believed the book was critical of TV news. Talk about burying your head in the sand. What he did was unethical, in our view, and antithetical to the mission of the news business."
We left a message with Pero at KRON to get his side of the story. No word back yet.
Image of KRON logo courtesy of San Francisco Peninsula Press Club.