OK, it’s inside baseball, but it’s interesting inside baseball: A Northwest Arkansas newspaper has accused a Northwest Arkansas TV station of allowing a judge to choose a story for the station so its manager could avoid a fine or jail time for being in contempt of court.
The unsigned editorial in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, headlined “Brad Karren, newsman,” charges that Circuit Judge Brad Karren and KFSM station manager Larry Henry “worked out a deal: Henry would air a story on KFSM within 30 days about a topic of the judge’s liking, child safety. A status hearing is scheduled July 16 to ensure Henry followed through on Karren’s story assignment to the judge’s satisfaction.”
Karren found Henry in contempt of court in May after Henry tweeted from the courtroom the guilty verdict in a murder trial of Zachary Holly. Karren had banned all electronic messaging from the courtroom.
The TV station’s news director, Larry Cummings, denied the accusation in a story on Adweek’s TV Spy, saying, “There was never any discussion with the court on content of that story nor was there any quid pro quo to avoid a fine or other action. … KSFM did not, nor would we ever, relinquish control over our content or editorial process.”
The NWA editorial said it would be “interesting” to see if Karren is featured in the KFSM story it says will air, and adds: “Keep this in mind, too: A 19-year-old girl who took pictures in Karren’s courtroom last year and posted them to her Facebook page got a whopping five days in the Benton County jail last summer. Karren apparently has a different standard for those willing to produce TV segments he’s interested in.”
Karren, by the way, was reprimanded in 2012 by the Arkansas Judicial Disability and Discipline Commission for issuing orders relative to the handling of a juvenile related to one of his employees and for setting a bond for a rape suspect he’d once represented in private practice lower than that requested by the prosecutor. Karren agreed he’d violated a number of rules on conduct.