BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
GLENDALE—President and General manager of KABC TV sent an email to Asbarez, in which she said that the cameraman that insulted Armenians while interviewing Turkish Genocide deniers on April 24 will not be used in the future by the channel’s news operations.
“We thank the community for bringing this video to our attention. ABC7 does not condone what was said on the video and apologizes to those offended. The photographer in question was not a staff employee of ABC7 and the station has determined his services will no longer be used,” said KABC TV President and General Manager, Cheryl Kunin Fair, in an email in response to an Asbarez article exposing a cameraman hired by ABC7 Eyewitness news who called Armenians “thug-like idiots” while conducting an interview with Ergun Kirlikovali, the former president of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations and another Turkish Genocide denier Nur Hostetler on April 24 during the Armenian Genocide Rally for Justice in front of the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles.
Our readers and community members deserve credit for their swift response to this insult.
ABC7 also said: “Most importantly, ABC7 believes the story that resulted from the coverage that day is fair and accurate. We would appreciate it if you watch the story and judge for yourself.”
This is where ABC7’s approach to this issue gets a bit thorny. I viewed the segment aired on Channel 7 on Saturday and was disturbed by three critical points in the coverage which the station touts as being “fair and accurate.”
The anchor Michelle Tuzee does not use the word Genocide to describe the day’s events calling it “massacres” and Eyewitness News deploys an old—and rather stale—trick by including the Turkish denialist perspective. The reporter also describes a gathering of a handful Turks at the Turkish Consulate on April 24 as a “counter protest,” without mentioning that Turkish flags that were propped up outnumbered the Turkish protesters.
This begs the question: In their quest for fairness and accuracy, would ABC7 invite a Holocaust denier on its air when covering the Jewish Holocaust?
In a joint statement on Tuesday, the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region and the Armenian Youth Federation framed the issue properly, by thanking ABC7 for its prompt response to the insult, but also pointing out that featuring Armenian Genocide deniers on its air is not “fair” coverage of the issue.
“The Armenian National Committee of America -Western Region and the Armenian Youth Federation – Western US commend ABC7 for taking the right first step in committing to no longer use the services of the cameraman who made the bigoted anti-Armenian comments. However, we remain outraged after learning that the station believes providing a genocide denier a platform in media is fair and accurate reporting,” said the statement, which was posted on their respective Facebook and other social media pages.
“Just like Nazis would not be given the platform in media coverage of a Holocaust commemoration event, the same standards must be applied to the Armenian Genocide. ABC 7 is headquartered in Glendale, CA where over 95,000 Armenians who are descendants of Genocide survivors live and to highlight the perpetrator is to condone its actions. The utter lack of sensitivity toward such a large segment of the community is deeply concerning to us, and we expect ABC7 to take appropriate measures to address and rectify this situation. The ANCA-WR and the AYF-WR request an immediate meeting with the station leadership to further discuss this issue. We look forward to your prompt response,” concluded the statement.
In our quest for fairness and accuracy we return to Ergun Kirlikovali, whose video exposed the bigoted cameraman, and let his actions and words speak for themselves.
On Tuesday he shared the Asbarez story on his Facebook page and included a rant, in which he defended the cameraman, accused Asbarez of employing “Armenian pressure tactics designed to trample upon the free-speech-rights of Americans,” and said that he and his fellow demonstrators on Sunday “outclassed” the “vulgar and violent behavior of some 60,000 Armenians,” urging Armenians “to choose reasoned debate over vandalism, violence and thuggery.”