According to WKRN's Volunteer Voters, the station seems to be receiving a remarkable amount of mail regarding their hire of Steve Gill, "pretty much mirroring" my comments about the marriage. I'm just wondering if the amount of negative feedback they are getting on this one will cause a similar change of course the station took back in December during the Holiday Tree/Christmas Tree controversy. At that time Channel 2 News stopped referring to the tree at Riverfront Park as a "Holiday Tree" after they received a flood of e-mails against calling it as such. It only seems fair that if they are getting a similar caustic reaction to the Steve Gill hire (which will have a greater cumulative affect over time on perceptions than short-term semantics about a tree) then they ought find some way to soften the blow of the hire and provide more balanced political analysis. Wading into the culture wars ought to be a 50-50 proposition rather than a zero-sum game for professional journalists who are supposed to be unbiased.
07/14/2006, 4:25 p.m. Update: Brittney at WKRN's NiT confirms that negative e-mails are rolling in on the Gill hire, even as Mr. Gill himself is sauntering around their newsroom. I hope that WKRN's GM is not planning on the station just hunkering down and riding out this seeming fire storm; they did not weather the storm in December when the fire was raining down from the right; instead, they tried to mitigate and revise. It would only be fair to this side of their loyal audience, skeptical or not, to do the same in this situation.
07/16/2006 12:30 a.m. Update: Steve Gill's first evening commentary on Friday pretty much confirmed my concerns of a drift to the right at News 2. His knee-jerk, Israel-right-or-wrong stance was the typical neoconservative red meat we've seen thrown around by the right for years. Steve Gill seems to assume a false choice: either you support Israel and do not criticize them or you are anti-Israel/pro-Islamic-terrorist. There is a third way: holding both Israel and its opponents accountable for justice and proportional defense in the region. But again, WKRN provided no balance to Gill's knee-jerk onesidedness. And Bob Mueller surely failed to ask Gill any critical questions about his clearly partisan view.