JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Washington State Patrol rips KING 5 for slanted segment, but agency is to blame

Apr 17, 2022, 1:05 PM | Updated: 8:15 pm
(Washington State Patrol via Facebook)...
(Washington State Patrol via Facebook)
(Washington State Patrol via Facebook)

The Washington State Patrol criticized KING 5 Seattle for a recent segment by the station’s Facing Race division of activist-journalists. But the agency should criticize the staff members who thought pitching KING 5 this story was a good idea to begin with.

To celebrate National Women’s History Month, the WSP offered KING 5 interviews with three troopers and one sergeant — all black females. The intent was to offer an honest look at current efforts to increase racial and gender diversity within the mostly white, male agency. But to the team of KING 5 staff, which evaluates stories through an equity lens, this was red meat.

The resulting piece primarily focused on the gripes of an employee terminated 14 years ago. It had little to do with what the WSP thought the piece would be and earned the ire of staff who thought it was an unfair look at the current environment. The report prompted an all-staff email from the chief to slam the station’s broadcast.

While the segment was typical of the station’s lazy, agenda-driven activist-journalism, the WSP should have seen this coming. It’s the exact kind of slant KING 5 offers in its coverage.

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KING 5 runs slanted piece to highlight their own agenda

The KING 5 on-air version was much different than the lengthy web version.

Online, the story focused more on the stories of the four WSP staff and their hopes for a more diverse workforce. On-air, the story was framed through an irrelevant, 14-year-old discrimination claim by then-cadet Liz Griffin.

“Many of us feel that the piece provided a less than full representation of GMR’s [WSP’s Government and Media Relations unit] intent of highlighting the agency’s interest and work on attracting more diverse individuals,” WSP Chief John Batiste wrote in an email to staff. “The piece focused on the unfortunate experience and opinions of a former employee from more than a decade ago rather than on our efforts to improve our processes, reduce barriers to service, and make our agency a place where any qualified candidate should always feel welcomed, supported, and appreciated.”

Griffin sued the WSP after she was terminated from the WSP for failing a practical exam. KING 5 reports that cadets are normally offered retraining, but she wasn’t. The lawsuit was settled out of court for $20,000.

Does this have anything to do with 2022 efforts to diversity the force? No. But KING 5 couldn’t get a race controversy through four black female staff who were mostly complimentary of the department. And apparently they couldn’t find anyone to complain about the current agency makeup, so they went back 14 years.

“We stand by our reporting, which is a well-balanced look at both historical issues at WSP, in addition to recent efforts to improve representation of people of color,” KING 5 news director Julie Wolfe tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

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KING 5 uses diversity and inclusion audits

The Facing Race team at KING 5 focuses its stories around left-wing views around race and racism. It results in stories that are peculiar as they are embarrassing, and as uninteresting as they are uninspired.

The station leaned into the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 and institutionally vowed to tell more stories through the eyes of what it views as traditionally underserved communities. There’s no nuance or balance, either. They often broadcast claims uncritically if it serves the agenda.

KING 5 even conducts diversity and inclusion audits to ensure they’re telling enough diverse stories, in essence, tokenizing the very communities (and non-white reporters and producers) they want to uplift.

Wolfe says the KING 5 staff spent time last year “training our news, digital and marketing teams as part of our Inclusive Journalism program.”

Didn’t tell enough stories about Native Americans? Quick — send someone to cover a veterinary clinic for the pets of Native Americans because… equity.

“Our audits look at all of the ways we ensure our storytelling reflects the diversity of the Pacific Northwest,” she added.

But it also ensures an intentionally myopic news product that came out in the WSP story.

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Diversity first

The WSP story epitomizes the kind of journalism born from an inauthentic and forced focus on wokeness.

As is expected, the story complains about a lack of diversity within the agency. The WSP is 86% white male. And it’s gotten less diverse over time.

“A KING 5 Facing Race analysis of Department of Justice and state data found diversity in the state patrol has declined. Compared with 2003, the patrol now employs fewer Black, Asian and Native American troopers,” the piece says.

The report even says they demanded photos of the new WSP cadet class so that it can evaluate the racial makeup of the class. How utterly bizarre — but also indicative of the superficial way KING 5 looks at stories. Apparently, if there was a high make-up of LGBT or religious minorities in the class, it wouldn’t satisfy the demands of the station’s race-obsessed activists.

The piece features former WSP trooper John Lovick, who is now a state senator.

“We want to see an agency that reflects the community that we serve,” said Lovick.

No analysis from KING 5

To KING 5, Lovick’s hackneyed message is perfect. It doesn’t attempt to explain why this matters; just that it does matter.

You’re supposed to believe the public demands to be served by a trooper (or fire fighter, teacher, doctor, etc.) that looks like them. I’m sure it would make me less angry to be pulled over by a devilishly handsome Jewish cop instead of a Christian one?

What’s missing is the analysis. All you get is a lazy regurgitation of a Seattle Times report (which KING 5 doesn’t directly cite as the source) about alleged institutionalized racism. It neatly feeds into the station’s worldview. And that means it’s missing some pretty basic data that could explain some of the diversity challenges.

The WSP is a state agency broken down into eight districts. Yet the diversity demands are created through a western Washington lens.

District 4, for example, consists of mostly white populations in Pend Oreille, Lincoln, and Spokane counties. The district’s most densely populated — Spokane County — only has a 2% black population. You’ll expect a higher likelihood of white employees than black because they represent the largest of the applicant pool.

Could there be systemic issues at play? Sure. KING 5 doesn’t present any evidence of any, merely surface-level speculation. And it completely ignores one major issue at play.

Media makes it harder to recruit law enforcement

KING 5 and other media outlets amplify the activists who call cops racist murderers.

While you won’t get much negative coverage of activists on KING 5, if you spent any time at the rallies and riots from 2020, you would have heard the awful names activists use to smear black cops, in particular. When you constantly demonize cops as racist murderers, it might make it more difficult to recruit members of those communities to join the agency.

KING 5 does not offer balanced reports; they air analysis as fact, while keeping voices critical of left-wing movements off the broadcast. While the station used the death of George Floyd as a reason to lean into activist-journalism, I witnessed their change devolution with the election of President Donald Trump.

I was a regular on KING 5’s New Day, but when I moved to KTTH Radio, an executive producer implied to me that I was too conservative. She took offense when I didn’t side with liberals in their smears of then-judge Brett Kavanaugh.

WSP is arguably more at fault than KING 5

KING 5 has many faults. But in fairness, the station doesn’t hide it’s wokeness.

The station actively promotes its activist journalists as accepting left-wing claims on racism as fact. It’s why assertions and opinions go unchallenged. As Facing Race anchor Joyce Taylor noted, the goal is to “expose how systemic racism impacts our lives and community in nearly every respect, so we can all take a stake in creating an equitable future.”

This was a deliberate move to speak directly to Seattle’s white, progressive elite who feel some level of guilt for historical racism of which they took no part. Now, KING 5 serves stories of self-aggrandizing white people acknowledging their supposed privilege, while patting themselves on the backs for reading the latest Robin DiAngelo book about how they are all racist.

Why in the world would WSP proactively pitch a story to KING 5? Offering up four black female staff won’t change the worldview of a station focused on historical injustices (real or imagined). The WSP thought KING 5 would tokenize the staff just as the agency did.

So how did WSP officials not realize that KING 5 would twist the story into the same divisive grievances about police like it did in its previous reporting? If you don’t offer up a white person to acknowledge white supremacy in the institution that must be dismantled, the KING 5 team will shoehorn it in.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3–6 pm on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  InstagramFacebook, and YouTube. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Washington State Patrol rips KING 5 for slanted segment, but agency is to blame