Kyle Dyer dog bite: 9News exec denies muzzling staff, defends coverage
Yesterday, in a followup to our items about the Kyle Dyer/9News on-air dog bite incident, we wrote about the disappearance of a critical Facebook post by staffer Kirk Montgomery, and wondered if the station had censored it. This post incensed news director Patti Dennis, who categorically denies any such action, defends her calls requesting that other outlets not use the footage, and decried Westword's speculation as not just "false" but "immoral."
The item was prompted by a discussion yesterday morning on Peter Boyles's KHOW radio program in which Westword editor Patricia Calhoun and I participated. During the conversation, we discussed a guest commentary by former Denver Post staffer John Moore entitled "Fox-31's handling of dog bite video flips 9News the bird," which stated that Montgomery "wrote there's a special place in hell for whoever at the local Fox affiliate has chosen to keep airing the slowed-down video of a dog biting 9News co-anchor Kyle Dyer's lip on live TV." However, that post and another by Montgomery (who has been contacted but has not yet agreed to an interview on this subject) are no longer on view at the Facebook page where they originally appeared.
After sharing this information in our blog post, I posed several questions: "Did 9News order Montgomery to remove the post? Or did he remove it himself? And if he chose the latter tack, was the decision inspired in part by pressure from his bosses?" My answer: "We don't know the answers to those questions at this writing. But we do know that this is the second time since the biting incident that a Facebook post by a 9News air personality on this subject has disappeared. Gary Shapiro, Dyer's co-anchor on the station's popular morning news program, turned to Facebook to disseminate a quick update on her condition in the immediate aftermath of the bite. This note was quoted in a different Denver Post story, but shortly thereafter, it was gone."
Kirk Montgomery's Facebook profile photo.
The piece subsequently noted a Today show package on the Dyer dog bite, which stated that 9News had attempted to squelch dissemination of the video footage in question. My concluding line: "The old saw popularized during the Watergate era -- it's not the crime, it's the cover up -- has never been more true."
Dennis's response? "This story is so wrong, it's almost laughable," she says. "And comparing this to Watergate is just false. It's harmful, because it's not true. To make assumptions about our station not covering the story is absolutely immoral."
According to Dennis, neither she nor any other member of 9News management told either Shapiro or Montgomery to remove the aforementioned Facebook posts. "There has been no conversation -- none, zero -- about doing that," she stresses. She adds that she didn't know about the existence of these messages until after the fact.
Moreover, Dennis says that no e-mail or other communication was sent to staffers about not talking to the press or sharing information in the wake of the biting incident, which involved Max, an Argentine Mastiff whose rescue from an icy pond had been broadcast live. Such a reminder wasn't needed, she feels, because of the well-known policy establishing her or general manager Mark Cornetta as the only individuals authorized to speak for the station.
Page down to continue reading our interview with 9News' Patti Dennis.