Tom Capra, news director for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, said his organization's credibility was at stake.
So commentator Jack Perkins took to the airwaves and blasted the Anaheim Police Department for using forged NBC press credentials during an undercover prostitution investigation.
"We do depend on the public's perception that we are honest, objective news gatherers," Capra said. "Criminals don't talk to you if they think you're going to turn them over to the police."
Station executives said that four months ago they denied a request from Anaheim Police to use the credential. Lt. John Flanagan said that wasn't true. His department never asked the station's permission but got approval instead from a judge, he said.
Undercover investigators often use fake identification because prostitutes usually ask for some to make certain the client is not a police officer, Flanagan said. He said that the fake NBC credentials were among scores of forged press cards seized by police in a 1984 forgery case. His investigators decided to pose as an NBC cameraman because prostitutes would not question such a guise, Flanagan said.