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Michael Hancock prostitution ring story: CBS4 exec on why station hasn't reported it yet

Hancock.
Both 7News and Fox31 are now reporting about the alleged link between mayor-elect Michael Hancock and the Denver Players prostitution ring. But many major news agencies are still holding off.

Why? CBS4 news director Tim Wieland explains his station's reticence to move forward with the material currently available.

The main source on the story is former Denver Players owner Scottie Ewing, who's currently serving a six-month home detention sentence for tax evasion. He's shown numerous journalists Denver Players files featuring Hancock's misspelled name, his personal cell number and a dollar amount, presumably for services rendered. But given Ewing's reputation, none of the larger media operations moved forward. Instead, the report was broken by CompleteColorado.com, with Westword and talk-radio stations like KHOW following suit.

Last night, 7News and Fox31 joined in because they obtained information showing that Hancock's legal team had contacted Denver Police asking for any video the department might have showing the candidate or his vehicle at Denver Players or any affiliated location. (The DPD says it has no such video.) 7News also got hold of an e-mail from a Hancock lawyer to the Manager of Safety's office; it stated that if no video was found, the office could inform the Denver Post, one of the inquirers, but if something turned up, sharing it with the Post would violate Hancock's privacy. Hancock continues to maintain that he's never used such services and castigates 7News for airing the allegations.

Fox31 implies in its report that legal inquiries by Hancock's legal eagles constitute an additional source. But Wieland doesn't concur.

"Our investigative reporter, Brian Maass, is absolutely among the reporters digging for credible evidence," he confirms via e-mail. But, he adds, "this is a sensational claim. The bar to report it must be high: credible evidence linking (Hancock) to the ring, or the revelation of the existence of evidence. So far, that does not exist. When or if it does, I assure you we will report it."

According to Wieland, Maass received confirmation of the lawyer's letter on Tuesday afternoon -- but "in my view (and for better or worse, my view is decisive in this case), this letter is part of the reporting process and does not constitute the 'credible evidence' standard for putting the story on a CBS4 newscast."

Given the decision of other news agencies to go public, the pressure's on outlets resisting the urge to bandwagon-jump -- but Wieland's holding firm. He believes "there is no value to the viewer in reporting our 'process' of investigating whether there is credible evidence. It is incomplete reporting, and is beneath our standards. If evidence is uncovered, Brian will report it. In the meantime, we continue to aggressively investigate."

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Brenda Stewart, who fronted prostitution ring linked to Michael Hancock, cops a plea."


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12 comments
sporobolus
sporobolus

i have an idea -- why doesn't Westword get a comment every few hours from CBS4 so we can know CBS4's take on the story without them having to officially report anything?

Mstar71
Mstar71

Reporters and talking heads on TV love to misuse the word "reticence" when they really mena "reluctance." Proper usage for reticent is: tightlipped, quiet, not talkative, uncommunicative.

"Why? CBS4 news director Tim Wieland explains his station's reticence to move forward with the material currently available."

Denver Taurus
Denver Taurus

What incentive would Ewing have to smear the mayor-elect of Denver?  Is he a decoy? A fall guy? A good investigative reporter would try to find out who is really behind this smear campaign.

Laurel Canyon '66
Laurel Canyon '66

"Journalistic way". Oh my god, Debbie Sherman & Maas got beat like a red headed step children by 7 & Boyles and The Denver Post is so up the yang with so many movers and shakers they'd pass on the story if they had video of Hancock. Boyles already has the names of a major radio guy (I think it is the one that Michael Roberts hears saying he uses Westword for bird droppings) and an in front of the camera guy (gee, Zap.. Pow Batman who?). Hancock will resign as the fires burn more and The Denver Post will have have to get some sanitation trucks from the Denver Public Works to get the you know what off their building.

Me
Me

Congratulations to CBS 4 and the Denver Post for handling this story the journalistic way instead of the tabloid way.

Laurel Canyon '66
Laurel Canyon '66

The Denver Post will have more coverage on the gay parade than Hancock. I can picture Litwin scribbling notes about what color the balloons are.

Shrubsrock
Shrubsrock

This looks familiar! You posted this comment somewhere else, no? Making a point there, reubenesp, or just obnoxious?

Spokesperson
Spokesperson

He's a publicity hound?   He wants to legitimize his business?  He cut a deal with Romer, like Mejia did?...

Me
Me

More likely Boyles, Westword and KMGH will end up like the Chicago Tribune with its "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline.

Denver Taurus
Denver Taurus

Resign?  Not hardly.  Voters have already expressed their disgust at mudslinging in this race.  Hancock will simply keep a positive attitude and move on.  Voters know the alternative.

Laurel Canyon '66
Laurel Canyon '66

If the logger made up the Hancock pages like 2 weeks ago you'd be correct, Boyles would be on the '31 Ford like Stymie wearing his derby waving from the rear spare tire heading out of town.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

An interesting view, Denver Taurus. Thanks for posting.

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