Local DC ABC Reporter Suspended -- For Conservative Bias?

Long-time DC TV news anchor Doug McKelway has been suspended by local ABC affiliate WJLA-TV (owned by Allbritton Communications, the same people who own the paper and website Politico) after a standup report last month from a liberal cap-and-trade rally trying to capitalize on the BP oil spill.

"According to several of McKelway's colleagues," reported Paul Farhi in The Washington Post, "the newsman's reporting may have lapsed into partisan territory when he commented live on the air about the oil industry's influence in Washington, particularly its contributions to Democratic politicians and legislators" -- which must have included bigtime BP recipient Barack Obama.

Don't question the Democrats from a liberal protest!  Then came trouble: "The episode led to a meeting between McKelway and Bill Lord, WJLA's station manager and news director, that featured sharp exchanges between them," anonymous WJLA sources told the Post. They insisted the issue wasn't the lines about Democrats, but about "insubordination."

But how is it not about conservative bias if that's what put him on the hot seat with the boss? The Post added:

McKelway has been cryptic when discussing his status with WJLA. In a posting on his Facebook page Thursday, McKelway wrote, "I've gotten so many emails and messages of concern about my employment situation. I wish I could say more!!! I don't know if I'll be back on the air, but I can tell you that life is very good. I've got a beautiful wife who's telling me to stick to principle."

When asked late last month by morning radio host Elliot Segal if he had been fired, McKelway said, "All I can say is, I got a great lawyer."

He also said "I like contrarian things." It's also possible WJLA is still angry about McKelway's really feisty interview with radical gay "outing" activist Mike Rogers on the local NewsChannel 8 (also an Allbritton station), which outraged gay leftists. (Notice McKelway calls out Barney Frank in the video.)

At one point, McKelway told his guest: "I'd take you outside and give you a punch across the face....I think you're hurting innocent people."

A day later, McKelway was unrepentant on the air, telling viewers, "An apology? Mike Rogers, you're not getting one. You understand that? Because you're a bully and you hurt innocent people, and you're doing great harm to your movement, the gay rights movement, by doing what you're doing."

McKelway has been with Channel 7 since 2001, and has long co-hosted WJLA's "Good Morning Washington" newscast. He's married to Susan Ferrechio, who's also been a reporter for the Miami Herald, Congressional Quarterly, The Washington Times, and currently The Washington Examiner. 

Of course, the Post had to lead with how "Veteran TV newsman Doug McKelway may have said too much -- not to viewers but to his boss." It's just as plausible that McKelway simply "said too much" by saying a discouraging word about Democrats.

The Post account also had to whitewash a rally by Greenpeace, Code Pink, and MoveOn.org, among other groups, as merely a "rally by religious and environmental groups to protest BP's response to the oil spill and to advocate for legislation favoring renewable energy resources."

The lefties clearly planned to bother politicians who took BP contributions: "Following the rally, delegations of activists visited the offices of some of the lawmakers who have taken in the most in campaign contributions from BP during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles." 

Allbritton and WJLA ought to be questioned if it's possible for a reporter in Barack Obama's Washington to mention on air that President Obama's a major recipient of BP cash without getting chewed out in the newsroom.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis