Rantz: Union head declares Seattle reporters support defund police movement

Aug 2, 2020, 5:04 PM | Updated: Aug 3, 2020, 7:41 pm
Carmen Best, CHOP murder, defund police Seattle...
SPD Chief Carmen Best addressing media Monday after another shooting in the CHOP. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The executive director of a union representing local broadcast journalists testified to the Seattle City Council claiming union members support the move to defund the police by 50%.

Shellea Allen is the executive director of SAG-AFTRA Seattle Local. Last week, during the public testimony portion of a council meeting, Allen read a statement on behalf of “the labor union that represents journalists” backing the political movement.

Members of this union include on-air talent at KING 5, KIRO 7 and KUOW.

This incident is the exact kind of declaration that further erodes trust the public has for journalists. How can they objectively cover a movement that their union says they support?

Defund Seattle police? Union heads says reporters back it

Announcing herself as the executive director of the union, Allen quickly declared support for the radical movement to defund the Seattle police.

“A new kind of policing is possible,” Allen said to the council. “Defending Black lives and defending our First Amendment rights as journalists means defunding the police and reinvesting in the community.”

She went on to say SAG-AFTRA supports the group Decriminalize Seattle, which has called for the 50% cut of the Seattle police budget.

Allen, who deleted her Twitter account after I posted the video of her comments, offered a brief statement via email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH claiming her “statement was officially rescinded on the record with city council.”

But she didn’t explain what this actually means. Was the message rescinding the statement made during another portion of the public commentary where people could actually hear it, as they did her irresponsible endorsement of defunding the Seattle police? Or was it made via email where the public won’t have reasonable access to her statement? She did not respond to any direct questions.

But a spokesperson for SAG-AFTRA did respond, claiming, “[Allen] notified the City Council that her statement should be rescinded from the record as not representing the views of SAG-AFTRA​.” So, in other words, it was private and SAG-AFTRA has no intent on publicly clearing the record.

Some journalists in and out of the union rebuked Allen’s statement.

Rebuking Allen

Some local TV reporters (in and out of the union) were not pleased with Allen, though few would go on the record. Others wouldn’t comment either way, pushing me toward their union stewards. Some, however, took to Twitter to complain.

“I, just as I believe any of my colleagues who are members of this union, denounce anyone or any organization backing one side of an issue, claiming to speak for journalists,” KING 5 reporter and union member Vanessa Misciagna tweeted. “I hope our union learned a lesson about the danger of her words.”

Q13 FOX reporter and anchor Brandi Kruse is not a member of the union. But she offered a harsh critique of Allen.

“She claimed to be speaking for journalists – but all she did is further erode public trust in the press. This is beyond bizarre,” Kruse tweeted.

KIRO 7 reporter Deborah Horne serves as Vice President (Broadcast) for the union and shop steward for KIRO 7. She declined comment.

KING 5 co-shop steward Mark Wright posted a statement to Twitter.

Update: On Monday evening, KUOW’s Jon Ryan weighed in to rebuke the comments. 

Rantz: Shock poll shows only 32% support to defund SPD by half

SAG-AFTRA responds

A spokesperson for SAG-AFTRA downplayed the comments in an email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. They claim the comments were merely about “journalist safety and policing.”

That’s not true. Speaking on behalf of the membership, Allen very clearly and specifically endorsed the defund movement. But the spokesperson did say the comments aren’t a reflection of the membership.

Her statement reflected her personal position on these topics and not that of the membership of SAG-AFTRA. She has since clarified this fact.

As a union that advocates for members across this the country and around the globe, the voices of SAG-AFTRA reflect a diversity of opinion on many social issues.

We believe strongly in the power of individuals using their voices, but maintain a clear line between personal and institutional viewpoints on the issues of the day.

In this instance our local executive director was expressing a personal opinion only.

We have no further comment.

The union also emailed a statement on the topic of journalist safety, connected to a subpoena from the SPD for local outlets to turn over video evidence of criminal behavior during a May 31 riot in Seattle. They sent me the statement in response to my questions about Allen. It seems clear they intend to pretend her statement was on the issue over the subpoena and not over the very clear support and endorsement of the defund movement.

Rantz: Activist group says Seattle cops targeted them. Video shows otherwise

This erodes public trust in journalism

Anchors and reporters should remain objective, not taking positions on the news stories they cover. By so publicly endorsing the defund Seattle police movement, Allen makes it easy for the public to distrust local media members in their coverage.

Don’t like the coverage of the riots or protests pushing for the defunding of police? A news consumer can just chalk it up to the reporter or anchor allowing their personal view to frame their coverage. After the comments by Allen, it’s not an unreasonable position for some people to take.

And the silence by some union members speaks volumes.

“Can you imagine if her testimony had been AGAINST defunding police?” Kruse asked on Twitter. “Reporters who belong to that union would have fallen over themselves putting out statements to distance themselves from her remarks.”

There’s no doubt a contingency of local journalists do, in fact, ideologically side with the progressive movement. Some reporters don’t hide their views; a quick perusal of their Twitter feeds is quite revealing. But the vast majority of local journalists treat issues fairly, regardless of their ideological views. The comment by Allen makes their job more difficult. And the ones staying silent do a disservice to their profession and the viewers they serve.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter and Instagram or like me on Facebook

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-6pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show

Jason Rantz

Dow Constantine...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Dow Constantine deletes photo as he went maskless at crowded event

King County Executive Dow Constantine doesn't practice what he preaches when it comes to COVID and masking.
3 days ago
mask, lunch...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Students told to wear mask while chewing lunch, district cites nonexistent guidance

Tacoma's Geiger School demands students chew and swallow their lunch with their mask on. The district backed the policy on guidance that doesn't exist.
5 days ago
critical race theory...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: District tells staff to defend critical race theory, but deny they teach it

Puyallup School District staff were given partisan talking points to deny that they teach Critical Race Theory and attack Republicans.
6 days ago
Seahawks, mask...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Mask mandate ignored at Seahawks game, highlights progressive hypocrisy

Seahawks ignored the mask mandate at Lumen Field. But will there be any consequences or media fretting over the super spreader threat? Nope.
7 days ago
Sawant recall...
KTTH staff

Recall group files new complaint over Kshama Sawant campaign spending

The group seeking to recall Councilmember Kshama Sawant filed a complaint alleging that she hadn't disclosed funds used to challenge the effort in court.
10 days ago
religious accommodation...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: All COVID vaccine religious accommodation requests rejected by Washington State Patrol

The Washington State Patrol has rejected every single religious accommodation request it has reviewed so far. But they say it's not a policy to reject them.
11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
By Alaska Airlines

Calling all football fans: follow Russell on the road

Take your Northwest spirit that we’re known for on the road this season with Alaska Airlines.
By Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
Rantz: Union head declares Seattle reporters support defund police movement