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Alaska TV Station Calls Miller Smear Fabrication Charges 'Absurd

"This is a lesson to learn from..."

A hot media battle is brewing up in cold Alaska.

After Senate candidate Joe Miller (R) released audio on Saturday he says shows local CBS affiliate KTVA-TV conspiring to link him to "child molesters" at a rally of his, the station has responded. Their claim? "While the recording is real, the allegations are untrue."

(Read our original report and listen to the recording.)

In a statement on Sunday, the station called the recording "unfortunate" but said the idea that the station was considering fabricating stories or trumping up allegations is "absurd."

"The perception that this garbled, out of context recording may leave is unfortunate, but to allege that our staff was discussing or planning to create or fabricate stories regarding candidate Miller is absurd," KTVA General Manager Jerry Bever said in the statement. "The complete conversation was about what others might be able to do to cause disruption within the Miller campaign, not what KTVA could do."

That "complete conversation," Bever explained, included potential scenarios at an upcoming rally.

"The group of KTVA news personnel was reviewing potential 'what-if' scenarios," he said, "discussing the likelihood of events at the rally and how KTVA might logistically disseminate any breaking news."

Miller's campaign believes the recording implicates the station's news director and assignment editor, a claim Bever rebuffs in the statement:

Released October 31, 2010: 9:17 a.m. (Alaska Standard Time)

A press release issued Saturday October 30, 2010, by the Joe Miller campaign claims that KTVA personnel, "openly discuss creating, if not fabricating, two stories about Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Joe Miller." KTVA General Manager Jerry Bever says, "It's unfortunate that this recording has happened. It's unfortunate because it does not accurately reflect the journalistic standards of our newsroom and the garbled context will no doubt leave more questions than answers. The Miller campaign's analysis of the recording is incorrect in many material ways ranging from personnel involved in the conversation, the interpretation of conversation snippets and the reported transcript of the perceived garbled conversation."

"While the recording is real, the allegations are untrue," said Bever. "The recording was the result of a cell phone not being hung up after a call was placed to Randy DeSoto, Joe Miller campaign spokesperson, Thursday afternoon to discuss Joe Miller's appearance on that evening's newscast. That phone call was placed near the end of a coverage planning meeting in our newsroom regarding that evening's Miller rally in downtown Anchorage. The group of KTVA news personnel was reviewing potential "what-if" scenarios, discussing the likelihood of events at the rally and how KTVA might logistically disseminate any breaking news."

Bever continues, "The perception that this garbled, out of context recording may leave is unfortunate, but to allege that our staff was discussing or planning to create or fabricate stories regarding candidate Miller is absurd. The complete conversation was about what others might be able to do to cause disruption within the Miller campaign, not what KTVA could do."

While Bever would not discuss any personnel issues linked with the recording, Bever says "Have we had internal discussions about the level of professionalism we need to bring to our conversations, internally and externally? Of course we have, this is a lesson to learn from."

In response to the audio recording, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin called KTVA "corrupt bastards."

And while Politico's Ben Smith believes the recording's transcript does not make it "terribly clear" what the news staff is talking about, Jim Hoft over at Gateway Pundit says the station's response is what is unclear: "Sorry, KTVA. That doesn’t make any sense. Guilty."

One last thing…
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