KARE’s Denny Hecker connection

Some weeks ago, KARE-11 ran what they billed as an “exclusive” interview with disgraced businessman Denny Hecker.

In the second part of the two-parter (here), anchor Mike Pomeranz asked, “One of the names that comes up, often, in these public proceedings is Christi Rowan. How would you describe your relationship?”

What KARE didn’t disclose was its own Rowan relationship: She is a former KARE account executive who met Hecker while servicing his account, station vice-president for news Tom Lindner confirms. In fact, KARE used Rowan’s employee photo in its Hecker piece.

Rowan, whose LinkedIn profile says she worked for KARE parent Gannett since 2000, left the station as the Hecker controversies were starting to pop. (Checking on the exact date of departure.) While Rowan is no longer on the payroll, KARE should have owned up to its ties to a principal player in Hecker’s very newsworthy divorce. Lindner says KARE planned to do just that in the Pomeranz interviews: “Unfortunately, a late, close-to-deadline edit left that out. It wasn’t by design.”

The station has since had several chances to augment the record, but hasn’t. The Pomeranz pieces were the best opportunity.

Lindner says KARE got the Hecker interview through the anchor’s “persistence,” not the Rowan ties, adding there was “an open agenda and unlimited questioning.” Hecker’s attorney Bill Skolnick couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on how KARE was picked; for the record, Hecker also sat down with KSTP-TV for a two-parter in June.

I watched all 12 minutes of Pomeranz’s questioning, which hit the major topics but I wouldn’t exactly call adversarial. When your first question is “How are you doing?” you know this won’t be a grilling. While there are too few detailed follow-ups, the feelings-heavy piece did let viewers experience the salesman’s armor.

I don’t think the approach was related to the Rowan connection — though it’s another example of why stations should let beat reporters do the boring-in. Fewer interviews would probably agree to sit-downs that way, though.

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/09/2009 - 10:57 am.

    Either way, the interview is a waste of everyone’s time.

  2. Submitted by Paul Sand on 12/09/2009 - 01:48 pm.

    Ah, yes, the “late, close-to-deadline edit left that out” excuse.

    First, why is there a late edit on a story like this? There doesn’t seem to be any competitive pressure. It doesn’t qualify as breaking news. If the edits are not ready, wait for the next newscast or the next day.

    Second, why would you cut out a conflict of interest disclosure that would take two to three seconds and be one or two sentences long? There was nothing else that could have been cut from the interview to allow space for the disclosure?

    This doesn’t pass the smell test.

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