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KCBS Refuses to Apologize to Bradley : Television: Questions from Bree Walker and Michael Tuck enrage the mayor. Channel 2 denies there was a conspiracy to ‘ambush’ him.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

KCBS Channel 2 management refused to apologize Friday for a live interview with Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley conducted earlier this week, despite a charge from the mayor’s spokesman that it “was the most biased and slanted interview our office has seen on local television in years.”

Bradley was so enraged by the tone and questions of the interview--which he understood was going to be a discussion of the Rodney King police brutality case but which quickly focused on the question of whether the mayor ought to resign himself--that immediately after the interview, he angrily declared, “I will never talk to those people again,” according to one KCBS employee, who asked not to be identified.

Since the interview Tuesday, station executives have held several conversations with the mayor’s office in an effort to mend the wounds, but Steven Gigliotti, KCBS station manager, would not reveal the details of those discussions.

Bill Chandler, Bradley’s spokesman, said that KCBS had promised to conduct a “thorough self-examination” of how the antagonistic interview came to be. He expressed hope “that when they’ve done that, they will give us a call.”

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The flap began Tuesday afternoon when a KCBS news representative asked the mayor to appear in an interview on the station’s 5 p.m. newscast to discuss the status of the King incident, Chandler said. A representative for Bradley asked if there was anything new the station wanted to discuss with the mayor and, according to Chandler, was told “no.”

Just prior to the live interview, the station aired a piece about a talk show on KGFJ-AM the previous Sunday, in which program host Booker Griffin and several callers said that the blame for the Rodney King beating ultimately rests with Bradley.

Bradley saw this piece for the first time as it aired immediately before KCBS anchors Bree Walker and Michael Tuck began to question him.

Tuck’s first question: “You’ve heard some people saying that you should resign because you have not provided strong leadership in this whole thing. Your response to that.”

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Bradley calmly answered, then Walker combatively began to pursue the point. When the mayor argued that the sentiments expressed on the talk show were not representative of the feelings of the black community of Los Angeles as a whole, Walker challenged him: “My friends who are black say it does.”

“It seems there was a conspiracy on the part of Channel 2 to ambush the mayor,” said Chandler, who accused KCBS of misrepresenting the purpose of the interview. “The mayor has no objection to answering a particular charge. But we do object that the opinions of this talk show host, who considers himself a self-appointed community leader and has been a critic of the mayor for 18 years, became the focus of the interview. They fell into a trap and gave him (Griffin) a forum.”

KCBS’ Gigliotti said that there was absolutely no conspiracy on the part of the station to ambush the mayor. The initial question coming out of the piece on Griffin was intended solely as a segue to other issues concerning the King incident, he said.

“It is unfortunate that we didn’t know about the long-running feud between Booker Griffin and the mayor,” Gigliotti said. “We stumbled into a sore spot and that became more of the focus of the interview. We have a long history of responsible journalism and objective coverage of the mayor and the mayor’s office, and that will continue.”

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Gigliotti added that he was sorry that the mayor was upset by the interview, but he did not consider the interview to be a personal attack on him, nor did he consider the tack taken by his anchors to be unfair or unprofessional.

But not everyone agrees. Chandler said that the mayor’s office has received numerous calls from KCBS employees expressing concern over the way the interview was handled. One KCBS employee told The Times that the interview was “an outrage, sheer stupidity,” and added that many others at KCBS found the whole thing “embarrassing and unprofessional.”

The most heated part of the conversation, centering around whether Bradley is ultimately responsible for the King incident and for Police Chief Daryl F. Gates remaining on the job, went like this:

Bradley: Don’t shift that blame to me. Don’t shift that blame to me.

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Walker: Well, in some ways, you have to admit, though, that since you do appoint the (Police) Commission, you are helping to create an atmosphere in which the police may be allowed to believe that they could get by with this kind of activity.

Bradley: Baloney! Baloney!

Walker: The black community says that it’s not baloney.

Bradley: Well, how many people did you talk with in the black community?

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Walker: You heard them on the radio talk show.

Bradley: This is a half dozen people on the Booker Griffin talk show, where you can get this kind of negative comment from a group of his listeners any time you want. That does not represent the broad cross-section of this community.

Walker: My friends who are black say it does.

Bradley: You go out and talk to the broad cross-section of black people to get their opinions if you want them. Don’t listen to a talk show.

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Gigliotti said that the questions asked of the mayor, as in the case of any other live-interview subject, resulted from a collaboration between the anchors, the show’s producer and the managing editor. He said that no action was planned to reassess how these types of interviews are handled or who conducts them.

Chandler said that the mayor will continue to answer questions posed by Channel 2 reporters at news conferences, and he would consider consenting to a similar live interview with KCBS in the future as long as his office was “confident that Channel 2 was being upfront with us.”

’ In some ways . . . you are helping to create an atmosphere in which the police may be allowed to believe that they could get by with this kind of activity. ‘

ANCHORWOMAN BREE WALKER

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’ Baloney! Baloney!’

MAYOR TOM BRADLEY

Excerpts from Bradley Interview on KCBS-TV

Here is an excerpt from the interview that KCBS Channel 2 anchors Bree Walker and Michael Tuck conducted with Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley last Tuesday:

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Bradley: Now the public has a responsibility to call to the attention of Chief Daryl Gates what it is they want.

Walker: But they have, Mayor Bradley.

Bradley: Don’t shift that blame to me. Don’t shift that blame to me.

Walker: Well, in some ways, you have to admit, though, that since you do appoint the (Police) Commission, you are helping to create an atmosphere in which the police may be allowed to believe that they could get by with this kind of activity.

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Bradley: Baloney! Baloney!

Walker: The black community says that it’s not baloney.

Bradley: Well, how many people did you talk with in the black community?

Walker: You heard them on the radio talk show.

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Bradley: This is a half-dozen people on the Booker Griffin talk show, where you can get this kind of negative comment from a group of his listeners any time you want. That does not represent the broad cross-section of this community.

Walker: My friends who are black say it does.

Bradley: You go out and talk to the broad cross-section of black people to get their opinions if you want them. Don’t listen to a talk show for the purpose of trying to get a feel for what the total community feels.

Tuck: Well, let me ask you this. . . .

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Bradley: I’m proud of the job that I’ve done as mayor. And to have been elected five times and to have received the highest rating of approval of any mayor, indeed, any politician in this country for 18 consecutive years is a pretty good indication to you I’m doing the job.

Tuck: Mr. Mayor, let me ask you this. Some of the criticism of you has been that you haven’t taken a strong enough stand in this whole thing. You have inched toward calling for Daryl Gates’ resignation, Mr. Mayor, so far, but you have not actually come right out and say (sic) it.

Bradley: If I called for Daryl Gates to resign, what would that accomplish? Daryl Gates has said that only he can determine when he’s going to resign. So you think my saying it . . . there’ve been thousands of people who have said “resign.”

Walker: . . . But you’re a former cop. What about the guys who just watched the beating? Do they belong on the force now?

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Bradley: I believe that they ought to be disciplined. I think the sergeant who was on that scene was responsible for controlling those officers and I’ve said it from the outset. He bears the blame, the bulk of the blame in this whole matter, and he is being prosecuted.

Tuck: So those fellows who were just watching stay on the force. They can keep their jobs.

Bradley: I didn’t say that.

Tuck: Should they be fired?

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Bradley: I think they ought to be disciplined but there is a procedure by which that’s done. They are going to be called by the Chief of Police and the Board of Rights to hear the complaints against them and I believe they are going to be disciplined.

Walker: Should it take this long? It’s taking a long time.

Bradley: Do you have any idea how long it takes for the average case of discipline against a police officer to be brought? They’ve got pending criminal matters that have to be taken care of first. Don’t worry about the discipline of those two officers. That’s an internal matter but it will happen. I assure you.

Walker: All right, Mayor Bradley, we’ll take you at your word. Certainly we’ll talk again. Thank you very much for giving us your time this afternoon.

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