KBCI TV-2 manufactures “gay news” for ratings

H. Lukas Green and Jody May-Chang©
June 25, 2009 PrideDEPOT.com

The recent arrest of two elderly men for allegedly attempting to engage in sex with an undercover Garden City police officer became the top story at KBCI TV-2 in Boise as the station launched into a sensationalized version of the facts surrounding the incidents.

KBCI TV-2 manufacture The arrests of Wayne Olin, 65 (left), and an unnamed 80-year-old, took place in a heavily wooded area adjacent to the Boise River in an area known as Plantation Island. Rather than simply report the news, the local CBS affiliate decided to hype the story and push it out as gay story.

KBCI Reporter Adam Rodriguez and Managing Editor, Paul Fredericks, both contacted PrideDEPOT.com for an on-camera comment in an attempt to gin up this story as a gay rights issue.

We chose to ignore these requests because it was apparent from the angle that the station was taking that they were manufacturing this into a gay rights story where none exists. The news value of the story amounts to two adult men who may not have exercised the best judgment, but it did not elevate itself to anything having a direct impact on Idaho’s LGBT community.

Fredericks and Rodriguez apparently saw this differently. They wanted to push this out as a gay issue in time for their evening shows. The story ran for at least four consecutive broadcasts along with sensationalized teasers for later broadcasts.

The charges against the man at the center of this intense coverage were eventually reduced from felony solicitation to misdemeanor charges of indecent exposure.

This news station’s reporting style and news judgment needs to be brought into question. This isn’t the first time that KBCI created news where none existed at this very same location.

Back in April* 2006, KBCI pushed out a story that tagged the area as “Fantasy Island” and created an image that gay men were lurking in bushes. During its 2006 coverage, KBCI interviewed representatives from the Garden City Police Department who talked about past arrests in that area.

What was noticeably missing from the 2006 report was the fact that the area was under several feet of water. The Boise River was running near or above flood stage for several weeks.

The only creatures having sex in the area were most likely ducks. Yet, KBCI hyped the story and fell back to its roots of sensationalizing and creating news where none existed.

When the two elderly men were arrested this week, KBCI blew the dust off of its prior coverage, but refrained from using the term “Fantasy Island” in its on-air coverage. However, the station’s website did reference the term that they allege came from local residents.

KBCI fed the story to its sister station KVAL TV-13 in Eugene, Oregon. That station prominently displayed “Fantasy Island” in its headline.

KBCI TV-2 manufacture

Both KBCI and KVAL websites featured a reporter saying, “In the past, neighbors in the area have complained that the island is often used by men for gay sex. Some locals in fact call the area “fantasy Island.”

KBCI alleges that local residents created the phrase “Fantasy Island,” although no local residents were interviewed using that description. PrideDEPOT.com has its suspicions that the phrase may easily have been manufactured within the KBCI newsroom.

When questioned further Frederick’s admitted to PrideDEPOT.com that the term came from a 2006 KBCI story.

PrideDEPOT.com contends that KBCI was irresponsible in its coverage and opted to bate the public with fear about homosexuals. KBCI promoted this for the sake of increasing their ratings, not so much to inform the public.

KBCI TV-2 manufacture

KBCI only featured the photo of one man, Wayne Olin. The other suspect was described as an “80 year-old man,” but his name or photo does not appear anywhere in KBCI’s reporting. KBCI created a scandalous story about a so-called “gay sex sting” which amounts to one man who exposed himself to a cop.

PrideDEPOT.com searched the Ada County Sheriff website for this 80-year-old man who was arrested for solicitation or indecent exposure and all we found for the last five days was Olin. The oldest man arrested we could find in that time period was 68 and he was arrested for failure to appear.

Who is the other suspect? And why didn’t KBCI report his name?

There seems to be certain contempt for the LGBT community coming from the KBCI newsroom. KBCI would rather focus on trumped up hype about an indecent exposure case, while ignoring the thousands of law abiding LGBT citizens and their allies who gathered peacefully only a few days ago in Boise.

KBCI was absent in its coverage of one of the largest Gay Pride events in Boise’s history, but they are very quick to promote the gay fear agenda by any means possible.

* Editors note 06-26-09: In the interest of accurate reporting, we corrected an error that previously read “June 2006.” It should have read, as it does now, “April 2006.” We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.