Breaking Tampa Bay, Florida and national news and weather from Tampa Bay Online and The Tampa Tribune |
Saturday, Apr 19, 2014

News bureau sorry for 'reprehensive' gaffe

Published:   |   Updated: January 31, 2014 at 06:18 PM

The “Reprehensive Party of Florida”? That's how a Miami television station inadvertently referred to the state Republican Party in a news segment on the gubernatorial race Thursday.

In short order, state Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry sent an outraged letter demanding an apology and threatening legal action, and a veteran and well-respected video news service based in Tallahassee admitted responsibility and fired at least two employees.

The goof happened in Thursday's news show on WTVJ-TV, the Miami NBC affiliate, in an otherwise routine political story on the race between Gov. Rick Scott and challenger Charlie Crist.

As part of the segment, the station aired a 10-second video clip from the state Republican Party's latest web advertisement attacking Crist. The station included a small credit line at the top of the screen identifying the source of the ad, but instead of “Republican Party of Florida,” it said, “Reprehensive Party of Florida.”

“This blatant disregard for journalist ethics and impartiality is a complete abdication of your station's professional duty to truth at best and slander at worst,” Curry said in a letter to the station manager and news director. “We are currently reviewing our legal options against your station, but at minimum we demand an on-air apology for violating journalist ethics and public discipline for any employees responsible for the creation of this graphic.”

It turned out the segment was produced by the Capitol News Service, a Tallahassee-based news production company.

Mike Vasilinda of Capitol News Service posted a statement on the service's website taking responsibility and apologizing, saying it was due to an employee's transcription error.

“We deeply regret this incident. The people who made the error and reviewed it without catching it are no longer in our employ,” the statement said.

A spokeswoman for WTVJ said the station would air its own apology on tonight's newscasts.

“We apologize to the Republican Party of Florida and to our viewers,” said Sean Fedderman of NBCUniversal, speaking for the station. “The story came to us from a news service we use out of Tallahassee that we have relied on for years with no issues. We do, however, know it was our responsibility to catch the graphic and we regret that we didn't prevent it from airing.”

The word “reprehensive” means censuring or rebuking. It's related to “reprehensible,” which means bad, shameful or disgraceful.