Kyle Dyer dog bite fallout: It's not the crime, it's the cover up

kirk montgomery facebook.jpg
Kirk Montgomery.
The on-air dog bite suffered by 9News' Kyle Dyer started out as a simple news item. But the harder 9News has tried to control the story, the more the tale has morphed into one that touches on media ethics in the 21st century.

The latest question: Did the station censor staffer Kirk Montgomery's posts about the topic on his Facebook page?

The gist of the subject, which Westword editor Patricia Calhoun and I discussed on Peter Boyles's KHOW radio program moments ago: According to former Denver Post staffer John Moore, who wrote a guest commentary for the paper entitled "Fox-31's handling of dog bite video flips 9News the bird," 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 reported Montgomery followup aimed at "the haters" are no longer on view on his page.

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? 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.

The Shapiro statement was incredibly benign -- not nearly as potentially controversial as the one shared by Montgomery. In both cases, though, the notes were presumably unauthorized and unvetted by 9News management. And that's a key factor to consider.

dog biting kyle dyer.jpg
An image from the Kyle Dyer dog bite video.
Companies in the eye of a controversy like to speak with one voice. As such, it's not uncommon for workers to be told not to communicate with members of the media, so that a spokesperson's delivery of the official line won't be sullied by competing takes. But such a philosophy is complicated when the organization in question is part of the media -- and when its staffers are public figures who've been encouraged to communicate with their audience via social media. In that case, any removal of posts, such as the ones by Montgomery and Shapiro, will likely receive more attention than did the original sentiments.

By the way, Moore's piece, published yesterday, takes Fox31 to task for showing the video in slow motion, but it slaps 9News, too. Here's an excerpt:

The station deliberately downplayed the severity of Dyer's injuries in medical updates it released that day. Viewers were told only that Dyer had been taken to the hospital for treatment, which hardly communicated what we know now: She was undergoing emergency reconstructive surgery after the 85-pound Argentine mastiff took off half her upper lip, requiring 75 stitches. She lost a lot of blood, and her lips were sewn shut.

Acting out of sensitivity to Dyer's family and co-workers, Channel 9 willfully chose to withhold information from concerned viewers, many of whom witnessed the incident on live TV. And that, in this isolated incident, calls its public trust into question.

Governmental and police agencies seek to control the flow of information by the media every day. But it's the media's job to disseminate the most current information available as quickly and accurately as possible. Not to obstruct it. It's a slippery slope.

Granted, Moore concludes that it's "better to be guilty of restraint than outright classlessness." He believes the latter term fits Fox's decision to slow the clip down for "maximum, Murdochian effect" and air it weeks after the incident.

Maybe so -- but it's a close call. Although 9News has every right to cover this story its way (by, for example, featuring a series on dog safety, as it will this week), the station crosses a line when it attempts to impose those standards on every other news organization. And as was stated clearly in a Today show piece on the Dyer bite, that's precisely what the outlet has done.

The old saw popularized during the Watergate era -- it's not the crime, it's the cover up" -- has never been more true.

Follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

More from our Media archive: "Kyle Dyer, 9News anchor, needs seventy stitches after on-air dog bite."

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23 comments
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Indpendant1
Indpendant1

and as for fox news making it a story!...........like i said, want real news, go to the internet, and let fox news do a dog story about a dog story!

Indpendant1
Indpendant1

are you people serious?.....kyle dyer got bit by a dog!...life goes on!...you should be upset with the news that they even do these dumb dog stories, the world is falling apart and 9news is doing dog stories!....gimme a break, world war 3 is getting ready to happen, and 9news is doing dog stories, people are starving in the USA, unemployment at historical highs, and 9news is doing dog stories!..who even takes these people serious anyways!....not me!...want real news, go to the internet!...and let 9news do dog stories!

missylynn
missylynn

What is a crime here is that she is supposed to be smart, with her job and all, you would think she would hopefully have enough common sense to know what even the stupidist people know.  DO NOT PUT YOUR FACE INTO THE FACE OF A STRANGE DOG.  D U H.  .  And she is so stupid, -and the crime is that the the dog had to go to puppy prison because this dummy got her face down in the dog's face and she just asked for it.  The dumb ass. Stupid is as stupid does.  Hopefully someone gave her a dose of common sense with her wheaties. She needs it.

Broker044
Broker044

What ever happened to human decency?  News over everything else?? Really?? Just pray something this tragic doesn't happen you or someone in your family.  What idiots.

Guest
Guest

9News would have been all over this video if it hadn't happened to one of its employees.  All you have to do to predict future behaviour is look at that of the past!  Patti Dennis would not miss an opportunity to show dramatic video and would laugh in anyone's face who asked her not to air it.  What is a mystery is why the other news directors complied.  It does seem as though it was a wimpy move. 

Ingebela117
Ingebela117

I agree the station is being disingenuous, but Kyle Dyer does have a right to privacy for herself and her medical records.

Bigdogluver
Bigdogluver

i do feel bad for Kyle but when I heard about her incident I recalled the time I was hanging out with my dog on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Commons Park.  Kyle happened to be in the park with her family and what looked to be their new lab puppy -- very idyllic. Her older girl was holding the leash as they strolled around the main area where the sidewalk goes all the way around.  My dog and I were laying on the grass behind the retaining wall facing Little Raven.  As they came towards us, my dog barked at the puppy who was flopping and wagging and pulling on the leash in our direction. While my dog is a big girl and has a big bark, she was laying down and remained down but you would have thought my dog lunged at them the way Kyle immediately jumped to pull her daughter and the puppy back. Unnecessarily, since we were up, behind the wall on a totally different level and a good 5 or 6 feet from the puppy.  She 'freaked out' the poor puppy and then kind of scoffed my way as if I/my dog had behaved inappropriately.  My sense is that she couldn't read dogs then and certainly didn't read well with Max either.  And why was she on the floor anyway.  She was in a skirt, on the floor -- not very professional IMO; the empty chair she should have been sitting in behind her.  I really am sorry for the unfortunate accident and truly hope she recovers fully and quickly but i also feel for max and his owner.  im sure they feel bad and guilty but it really could have been avoided.  i hope kyle will acknowledge this and that she holds no blame toward the dog or its owner. 

MommaBear
MommaBear

Did I read this right? You are belittling a parent for instinctively pulling a her child and small puppy toward her after your dog, by your admission a big girl with a big bark, made herself known by barking.  I am a parent, and I would do the same thing, pull my child back FIRST,  during my assessment of the situation, whether its a dog barking, car honking, or noise in the woods. Just because YOU know where you were and that your dog was non threatening and a good distance away does not mean that the Dyer family knew the same thing the instant they heard your dog bark. Sounds like you don't understand instinctive survival reactions in humans, or perhaps animals, for that matter. So bravo, Kyle Dyer, if this story is even true, for having good maternal and survivor skills!

Boots4202003
Boots4202003

Also, Kirk Montgomery is a moron. The things are does on the news are the most idiotic things they could possibly put on television, He acts like a fool and looks retarded. Less Kirk Montgomery and more Amelia Earhart!

Sam T
Sam T

less of both!  they, kirk and amelia have had too much surgery! most of the male viewers enjoy amelia for this reason; it's certainly not for her journalistic qualities. like most plastics continued exposure can be bad for you

Boots4202003
Boots4202003

Who cares? Just leave the poor dog alone and everyone would be fine. A few deleted Facebook posts about a dog bite is hardly a major coverup by the media. Stop trying to make something out of nothing.

Taxpayer
Taxpayer

The sad decline to absence of journalistic integrity at 9News is newsworthy.  It has an obligation to exercise its FCC license by informing the public.  When it refuses to do so, regardless of how minor you consider the original story....it is a "major" coverup worthy of FCC sanctions.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Boots. Much appreciated.

lunkwill
lunkwill

9news, like all news channels, routinely airs for effect (often in slow motion) graphic videos of all manner of people getting maimed, attacked, or injured - nearly all of which are unnecessary for the general public to watch in order to get the point of the news story. I have watched (on 9news) people being shot, stabbed and beaten. I've watched fatal car crashes, people getting run over, people getting attacked by animals (somehow different?), and people jumping out of buildings to their death to escape burning office towers...

Graphic video sells, and 9news is no different than any other news outlet in their choice to routinely air graphic videos for the public's entertainment (we don't need to watch a police officer get shot on his dash-cam to understand that it happened). It's therefore interesting that suddenly, when one of "their own" is involved in a news story, a 9news representative would write that there is a "special place in hell" for those that air video of the injury (which was barely even visible in the video, incidentally). Talk about hypocrisy.

As a fan of 9news and Kyle Dyer, I was greatly distressed to learn from Mr. Montgomery that, by extension, Kyle and all of the 9news staff and producers will also be going to a special place in Hell.

I hope 9news reconsiders their stance and realizes that on this particular story, they're just on the receiving end of what they routinely do to others.

PD
PD

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."

Oh, poor, poor, 9News.  Sorry if we don't shoot the messengers.

There is a special place in hell for everyone at 9News for creating the circumstances that resulted in the maiming of Kyle Dyer.

You reap what you sow, fuckers.

Rg2012
Rg2012

Willie B, from 106.7 KBPI did the same thing yesterday on his Facebook page with a post on Obama. I wonder if his management did the same type of censorship!!

Shanti Klemm
Shanti Klemm

This story has been beat to death.  From updates on Dyer's "resconstructive surgery" to nightly videos of dogs being rescued from iced over ponds to censorship conspiracy theories.  The fact remains that 9news used poor judgement in an effort to get a fluff piece of news that they thought would make people all warm and fuzzy inside.  How indepth do you really need to go for such a story...bringing in not just the dog, but the fireman that rescued him?? It was silly.

Ginny
Ginny

Apparently, yesterday I became one of the "haters" for pointing out, on Mr. Montgomery's "Special Place in Hell" FB post, that Patti Dennis epitomizes hypocrisy, after stating that it's the policy of 9News to not post or show video showing people being injured or killed, while a video of a fatal plane crash remained on the station's website. This same Mr. Montgomery seems to relish in being the FIRST to "break" news of a celebrity's death... hmmmm

lunkwill
lunkwill

If that's their policy, I don't understand why I've seen so many videos of people being injured on 9news.

Guest
Guest

 It is only the policy when someone from 9News is not involved, or so it seems.

taxpayer22
taxpayer22

Waiting for the massive lawsuits.

Large medical bills for decades of future facial surgery and mental suffering.

Dogs bite people and then comes the lawsuits. How big is their [ or your ]  liability insurance coverage ?

Erick
Erick

So anyone delving into this incident is now a "hater" according to Kirk?  A caller to KHOW this morning was spot on when he pointed out the story of a man being dragged by a car over the weekend.  Patti Dennis and crew apparently had no problem showing the graphic wounds that he incurred when his torso met the asphalt.  And as for Channel 9 doing a lame puff piece starring "Pickles" the terrier .. well give me a break!  

Keep up the good work .....

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