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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Avila’

Judge Recuses Himself From ‘Pink Slime’ Lawsuit, Citing Ties to ABC News

Judge Lawrence L. Piersol has recused himself from the billion-dollar defamation lawsuit against ABC because his daughter-in-law is a producer on “Good Morning America,” the AP reports.

South Dakota-based Beef Products, Inc. is suing ABC News for $1.2 billion for the network’s reports on its finely-textured beef products, referred to as “pink slime.” Diane Sawyer, Jim Avila and David Kerley were all named defendants in the lawsuit, which ABC filed a motion to dismiss last month.

The case has been reassigned to Chief Judge Karen Schreier.

ABC News Sued Over ‘Pink Slime’ Reports

ABC News, and anchor Diane Sawyer, have been named in a defamation lawsuit filed by Beef Products Inc. (BPI).

The Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based meat processor is seeking $1.2 billion in damages for roughly 200 “false and misleading and defamatory” statements about the product officially known as lean, finely textured beef, but has been refered to as “pink slime.”

ABC’s reporting “caused consumers to believe that our lean beef is not beef at all — that it’s an unhealthy pink slime, unsafe for public consumption, and that somehow it got hidden in the meat,” said Dan Webb, an attorney for BPI.

The 257-page lawsuit cites 11 TV reports and 14 online reports between March 7 and April 3, 2012. In addition to Sawyer, ABC correspondents Jim Avila and David Kerley are also named as defendants, as is a former Dept. of Agriculture microbiologist who coined the term “pink slime” in 2002. He was the “whistleblower” featured in ABC’s reports.

“The lawsuit is without merit,” says ABC News SVP Jeffrey Schneider, adding, “We will contest it vigorously.”

Watch Avila’s report from March 7, after the jump…

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Martha Raddatz Presented Fred Friendly First Amendment Award

ABC’s Martha Raddatz is presented the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award in New York City

Martha Raddatz has been in worse rooms, in worse countries, on military bases and battlefields.

Today, ABC’s senior foreign affairs correspondent graced the gilded dining room at the 19th century Metropolitan Club on New York’s 5th Avenue and was presented with the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award by Quinnipiac University.

Ruth Friendly, the widow of the legendary CBS newsman for whom the award is named, described Raddatz as “fearless.” The impossibly humble Raddatz said, in fact, she was “filled with fear” as she took the stage.

“The courageous ones are the people I have covered during my career,” said Raddatz accepting the award before a crowd of more than 100 guests, including her ABC News colleagues Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, previous Friendly recipient Charlie Gibson, George Stephanopoulos, Bob Woodruff, Terry Moran, David Kerley and Jim Avila.

Raddatz talked about the courage of Staff Sgt. Sal Guinta, the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War. “Sal Guinta does not think he is courageous or a hero. He does not think he did anything that others wouldn’t do in the same situation.”

And the bravery of her own colleagues, “far too many of whom have lost their lives or been badly wounded doing so,” as Raddatz looked toward table four. “And I still can’t be in the same room with

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ABC News Hires Reena Ninan from Fox News

ABC News president Ben Sherwood is changing up a couple of correspondent assignments, while bringing on a new reporter: Reena Ninan, late of Fox News.

Ninan is joining the Washington, DC bureau after covering the Middle East for FNC. Ninan spent much of the past year reporting on  the Arab Spring from Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank.

Also announced, Jim Avila, who has been based in New York, is relocating to Washington, D.C. where he will be Senior National Correspondent overseeing a new investigative unit focused on food, drug, airline and environmental safety issues. He’ll continue to contribute to “20/20” specializing in law and justice. Avila was the lead reporter on the death of Michael Jackson and the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray. And Lisa Stark, who has been covering federal policy, including transportation and the FDA, will now cover lifestyle stories for ABC News.

Morning Show Interviews with Conrad Murray, and a Juror Who Found Him Guilty

NBC News will air Savannah Guthrie‘s pre-verdict interview with Dr. Conrad Murray tomorrow and Friday on the “Today” show. Murray, who is in custody following the guilty verdict in the death of Michael Jackson, sat down with Guthrie a few weeks ago.

NBC News used excerpts of the interview on “Nightly News” and “Today” following the verdict.

And this morning on “Good Morning America”, ABC’s Jim Avila spoke with juror Debbie Franklin. “We absolutely agree that he did not mean to do this,” Franklin says. “We don’t think he even had a motive to do this. We think it was something that he was doing that was careless that got out of hand.”

Conrad Murray Guilty of Manslaughter in Michael Jackson Death

> Breaking: At 4:17pmET, the verdict was read. Conrad Murray is guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of pop star Michael Jackson.

The CBS News special report ran until 4:22pm, ABC’s until 4:23 and NBC’s and FOX’s until 4:24pm. Fox News also ended coverage, anchored by Shepard Smith, at 4:24 when Eric Bolling picked up on “Your World” filling in for Neil Cavuto. HLN, MSNBC and CNN continued through the 4pmET hour.

> Earlier: The networks are preparing a special reports for the verdict in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial of Dr. Conrad Murray. Around 2:05pmET, the the jury announced it had reached a verdict which will be read around 4pmET.

ABC News will produce a special report with Diane Sawyer anchoring from New York. Brian Williams Actually now Harry Smith will anchor a network special report for NBC stations and Scott Pelley will anchor a special for CBS stations. Bill Hemmer will anchor for FOX stations.

The cable news channels will all be carrying the verdict. CNN International will simulcast CNN/US beginning at 3:30pmET. HLN will be without the services of trial queen Nancy Grace who is rehearsing for tonight’s “Dancing with the Stars.” Jane Velez Mitchell will lead coverage on HLN and fill in on “Nancy Grace” tonight, which has been the arrangement on previous Monday and Tuesday nights during the ABC dancing competition.

From Southern Storms to Royal Wedding, a Friday Night of News

The broadcast networks devoted a significant chunk of time last night to news programs. CBS produced an hour on the Royal Wedding at 8pm, while NBC and ABC went head-to-head with two hour specials from 9-11pm. The first hour of “Dateline” was anchored by Brian Williams and was devoted almost entirely to the storms in the south, while ABC’s 2-hour “20/20″ was devoted almost entirely to the Royal Wedding.

“20/20″ drew 6.7 million total viewers and a 1.6 rating/5 share in A18-49. The Barbara Walters-hosted special drew 1.8 million more viewers than “Dateline” and by +33% in the A18-49 demo.

“20/20′s” second hour, which included a report from Jim Avila in storm-ravaged Alabama, saw its audience grow in Total Viewers and was #1 at 10pm in the A18-49 demo.

Networks Prep Specials for Michael Jackson Death Anniversary; NBC News Licenses Non-NBC Interview

MJ_6-22.jpgThis Friday, ABC, NBC, and CNN will all have special coverage commemorating the one year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s passing.

NBC will air a special “Dateline” titled “Michael Jackson: A Mother’s story at 9pm Friday night. The special, which is reported by Josh Mankiewicz, will feature an interview with Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, that was licensed by NBC and conducted by a woman named Sonia Lowe. Roger Friedman reported today on Showbiz 411 that the interview was produced by former MJ business partner Marc Schaffel and is “the only one with Mrs. Jackson made for the anniversary of Michael’s death.”

The only information we’ve been able to find about Lowe is that she’s the co-creator of “Never Can Say GoodBye: The Katherine Jackson Story” a coffee table book which was co-written by Mrs. Jackson.

TVNewser wondered if NBC is risking any credibility by giving up a portion of a primetime broadcast to a non-NBC journalist — who has a business relationship with the subject — to get a high profile interview? A network spokesperson tells us, “Our special will meet NBC News standards, and we will disclose to viewers the circumstances in which the interview took place.”

It’s not entirely uncommon for the news networks to air licensed interviews done by non-staffers for specials like these, but it is rare.

In addition, ABC and CNN will both also have specials on Friday evening:

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More Michael Jackson on ABC

Tonight, ABC News’ “Primetime: Crime” reports the latest on the investigation surrounding the death of Michael Jackson, and how his passing has shined a light on celebrities’ drug use and the doctors who enable them.

The hour will examine Jackson’s physician Dr. Conrad Murray and searches of his home and offices have revealed. Chris Connelly, Jim Avila and Mary Fulginiti will contribute to the program tonight at 10pmET/PT.

Covering Columbine: 10 Years Later

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10 years ago today, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered their high school in a Denver suburb, looking to kill hundreds of their classmates. On the cablers and networks today, the Columbine story was revisited. The story is significant for television news, as Poynter’s Al Tompkins told the AP: “Cable news channels were just spreading their wings and live coverage of breaking stories was coming into its own.”

We asked some of the anchors and reporters who covered the shooting to reflect on the story, 10 years later:

williams_4-20.jpgNBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams: “It was a miserable story to cover — and as the details came in, as the day went on, it only got worse. I couldn’t help but view Columbine as a father of two. My children were 11 and 8 back then, and it turned into a defining event for them. It became the new, sordid and violent benchmark for what could happen to our children, and as parents we tried mightily to calm them, and preserve the notion of school as a safe place.”

abrams_4-20.jpgAbrams Research CEO Dan Abrams: “My initial memory was confusion. We were in Colorado covering another story when I received a frantic call from the NBC news desk directing me to head to Littleton immediately. I was only about twenty minutes away so I was one of the first reporters on the scene. It was eerie. No one knew exactly what had happened or why. Nor did they know where to go or not go. I was putting eyewitnesses on the phone to describe the horror. In many cases I was gathering information from friends who heard accounts from friends. The police were confused, the students afraid and I was a little of both. Even hours later we were all worried that there were still shooters at large. I remember jumping at the sound of a falling ladder in the distance. While I was doing a report for Nightly News, there was an explosion in the background. We feared the killers were still there. If I recall correctly, the police had been defusing a bomb.

As time passed, however, the story quickly turned to the victims and the shattered community. Everyone wanted to know why? How could this have happened here? Who is to blame? Now, ten years later I fear the answers are as unsatisfying as they were then.”

avila_4-20.jpgABC News senior law and justice correspondent Jim Avila: “Columbine was the worst of a rash of school shootings I covered as National Correspondent for NBC News. It followed Jonesboro and Paducah…and was the most frightening of all. At the time my own 3 children were all in school — 2 in high school and one in elementary. And as a father, those pictures of teenagers running through the schoolyard with their hands in the air were crushing.

At times like that, I bury myself in the work…and make sure I call home at night to vent. No time to think about it during the day. I was there for nearly a month…and the details about the 2 shooters revealed every day were very troubling. Their access to weapons, their plans kept on their computers, the questions about parental supervision…all struck home with me and a nation of parents.

Columbine defined ‘innocence lost.’”

Click continued to see a local news report from Columbine featuring a current Fox News Channel correspondent…

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