Did CBS-12 intentionally mislead its viewers?
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
Did CBS 12 intentionally ignore the facts?
June 9, 2015
(West Palm Beach, FL) – Did CBS 12 intentionally ignore the facts of a story in order to mislead its viewers?
In a story that aired during the 11:00pm news on June 9th, CBS 12 reported the following:
“City officials approved a plan providing meals for kids who might otherwise go hungry to the tune of $44 per snack or meal. Does a snack really cost that much? We sent CBS 12’s Kathleen Walter to investigate how the city is spending your tax dollars.”
The story continued…
“West Palm Beach city commissioners approved a $200,000 program providing 4,500 snacks or meals in the city’s after school program.”
In addition, across the screen during the entire story was a graphic reading: “Too Much For Snacks?”
Only one problem: That’s simply not true, and CBS 12 knew it long before they aired the story.
The fact is the reporter doing the story knew 10 hours earlier that the city in fact DID NOT approve a program that paid anywhere NEAR $44/meal. In an extended conversation with reporter Kathleen Walter earlier in the day, the city walked her through the numbers which showed that the $200,000 program did not provide 4,500 meals and snacks over the course of an entire year as she incorrectly assumed. Instead the $200,000 would provide 9,000 meals and snacks per month, totaling approximately $2 each.
In fact, Walter was also told the day before that her calculations were incorrect, and that the city would be happy to provide a break down of the expenditures…which it did the following day.
The printed agenda from Monday’s City Commission meeting included the total program cost of $200,000 and referred to 4,500 meals and snacks. But during extended explanations with Walter during the day Tuesday, city officials provided the details of the program, clearing up any possible confusion caused by the wording on the agenda.
Yet in the CBS 12 story, Walter interviewed several people commenting on the false figure of $44/meal, giving the clear impression that the $44/meal figure was what the city approved.
She also showed video of a calculator dividing $200,000 by 4,500 to arrive at a figure of $44 per meal.
So did CBS 12 ignore the facts they were given earlier in the day in order to put on a sensationalized story implying inappropriate government spending?