Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The irresponsible journalism of KGW

One of the stickiest issues so far in the Oregon Governor's race has been this video taped comment made by Chris Dudley:

"it doesn't make sense that our waitresses are getting tips plus the highest minimum wage in the country."

Last night on Live @ 7 on KGW, Anne Yeager took a scatter shot approach to discrediting the people who are RIGHTFULLY appalled by the quote, implying that Dudley was somehow taken out of context due to the editing of the video. In an appalling piece of slipshod "investigative reporting" Yeager's piece ALSO edited the video to leave out the question that Dudley was answering in agreement. And THEN, she sticks a microphone in his face and gives him a platform to backtrack the comment. There's no doubt that this quote has been reflecting badly on Dudley and that he would take it back if he could. He has been careful about the whole matter up til the September 9th venue where he said the quote. Jeff Mapes seemed to get it when he addressed the matter of Dudley's stance on the tip credit back in July and that Dudley didn't want to go on record about it at all:

"At any rate, it's clear that Dudley - who didn't rule out taking up the tip credit issue if he is elected governor - is a favorite of the Oregon Restaurant Association." (who incidently, as of this morning, have given $90K to Dudley's campaign).

I became aware of the quote from Blue Oregon on September 21st, before it was edited into the "short" version. The Democratic Party posted the full, unedited version on You Tube on September 20th. Judging by the comments on the Blue Oregon page then, we were outraged then because, oh I dunno... we understand English and nuance and context. Elements that apparently Anne Yeager does not understand.

To be sure, there has been a backlash against Yeager already this morning. My husband and I, being vocal pains in the ass, challenged her investigative methods on Twitter. We mentioned the fact that she left out the $90K donation by the Restaurant Association. She kept trying to put the focus on Dudley's idea of a training wage. And then she admitted that she didn't understand the "lingo" of "tip credit".

Did she even watch the video herself? Dudley pretty much breaks it down for her. But in case she or anyone else is still unclear about what "tip credit" means, here is a nice explanation and breakdown of how it works in North Carolina.

Note that tipped employees make $5.12 LESS an hour than non-tipped employees. Furthermore, it amounts to less payroll tax, Social Security, and unemployment insurance being paid.

At 00:43 into the "long" unedited version of the video, Dudley says "I agree" to the question being asked about employees making too much money and then uses a third party's story to corroborate his point. Is this not AGREEMENT? Dudley COULD have used the opportunity to praise people who wait tables for a living for the relatively low wage they make. No. Instead, he commiserated with the whiny, cheapskate restaurant owner who was complaining about how much money his waitresses cost him. He has NEVER addressed tip credit and Yeager failed to ask that when she had the chance.

So here it is. The full, unedited video of Dudley agreeing that minimum wage (which he incorrectly claims is the highest in the country) PLUS tips is too much money.

And yes, he does offer up a training wage as a "first" step: "that’s one area I would like to tackle first is to at least get a training wage going" The follow up question to that matter should be: "what's to stop restaurant owners from overly relying on young wait staff making training wage and putting older, experienced workers out of work?" Think you can handle that, Anne Yeager?

The really inexcusable part of Yeager's report is that Kitzhaber is tacitly being blamed for the video. It didn't require investigative journalism to unearth the source of the video... the unedited video has been posted from the start, by the DPO and, in turn, by Blue Oregon.

And finally, please note: As of today, Chris Dudley has still not stated where he stands on "tip credit". This question must be explicitly asked on Thursday's debate on KGW.

I am constantly amazed at how woefully inept the media has been on the Oregon Governor's race. This comes from having to do research myself that I often post here. But this incident fails every journalistic standard of fairness. I wish the media would put as much effort in finding out the identity of the tracker who disrupted the Urban League forum as they did in giving Dudley his opportunity to backtrack off this quote.

Anyone know who that guy is?

1 comment:

Lydia said...

Not surprisingly, I have had difficulty getting to the core of this whole thing, as I missed the original whoopla. Thank you for this post, as it provided me with the background I needed to see how this mess evolved. I wish Kitzhaber would make more of an issue of it, but he is choosing his battles carefully now. If he doesn't win in Oregon, and Brown doesn't win in California we will see crisis and decline beyond belief in these states......