Friday, October 28th, 2016

Next time WTMJ waves some papers in front of the camera, ask what’s on them


How irresponsible was WTMJ’s “I-Team” reporting on the O’Donnell Park parking structure accident? Pretty irresponsible. While Aaron Diamant was waving around papers claiming were “proof” of something nefarious, the truth is the maintenance issues Diamant described were already repaired by the Parks Department, and none of them had anything to do with the accident in the first place. Diamant should have known both before he went on the air with his two slanted reports.

“When a thirty foot piece of concrete fell off the O’Donnell Parking Garage and killed a fifteen-year-old boy Thursday, it put a big fat exclamation point on a very long list of known problems uncovered by the I-Team. Nearly six hundred thousand dollars in deferred maintenance to the garage, important repairs found by Department of Public Works inspectors last December as part of a county audit.”

Diamant listed some of the items found in the report without linking any of them to the concrete slab that fell. Diamant then said to his audience that “County leaders” would go through the list “line by line” to see if any of the issues in the maintenance report related to the accident Thursday, something the investigative reporter failed to do himself. Had he done so, he would have learned that none of the items listed had anything to do with the tragedy.

Diamant added for dramatic effect, “Problems the county knew about but put off to save money.” But not for long. Had Diamant looked into the matter further before rushing to air with his sensational report, he might have learned that the required maintenance items listed in the papers he waved were repaired. Perhaps Diamant’s source for the report failed to mention this salient fact.

The report cut back to Diamant in the studio to inform viewers that the total deferred maintenance for the parks system “including this garage” was a “staggering” $200 million. Of course, Diamant cannot pin point anywhere this deferred maintenance across the entire parks system had anything to do with the concrete slab falling.

Diamant helpfully added for his audience the story of the piece of concrete that fell off the County Courthouse that did not injure anyone or have anything to do with his report except something fell. It’s a wonder he did not mention the apple striking Sir Isaac Newton in his report.

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