CBS tried to reform the cop show. Police reform advocates are not impressed.
By Mary OrrOctober 26, 2013
It is easy to lose a job when you’re a cop. Especially in New York City. That’s why the police unions got a little upset when CBS quietly released a series of documents over the past several days purporting to show the relationship between the police department and the media.
In the documents, CBS made it clear that it had no interest in airing the information it obtained. Instead, the company told CBS that it would “expeditiously” decide to either broadcast the material or release it to other news organizations that CBS believes had a public interest in the information.
But when CBS decided to release the information, some of the media organizations, including the New York Post and the New Jersey Star Ledger, were outraged over CBS’ non-response.
Since the release, CBS has issued an open letter to both the Post and the Star Ledger criticizing their decision to publish the documents. CBS says that the documents are not the basis for any kind of “dereliction” of duty or ethical lapse on the part of its reporters.
As it turns out, the documents are being released as part of a larger attempt to reform the Police Department. CBS apparently told the media organizations that the documents were part of a larger investigation, but they’re not. For the most part, the documents appear to be the same as the materials that CBS produced to The Huffington Post in October and then took to court and won in New York, though the Post has tried to downplay the significance of the documents by claiming that it had nothing to do with the case.
CBS and the Post seem to have made a mistake. The documents don’t suggest that the media organizations acted ethically or dutifully in publishing the documents. They suggest that the media organizations acted as a mouthpiece of the Police Department and did what the Police Department wanted them to do.
The documents appear to be the same as those obtained by The Huffington Post in October, and that document was awarded $2 million in a lawsuit brought against CBS by the Post. In that case a jury agreed with the Post and awarded the Post $2 million in damages and a jury trial is scheduled for February 22, 2014.
In this case, CBS is