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Charleston Station told to Ignore Congressional Candidate Because of His Views on Local TV

rabel wchs_croppedCharleston, WV, ABC affiliate WCHS has reportedly told newsroom staff to ignore congressional candidate Ed Rabel because of an op-ed he wrote last year.

The former CBS and NBC correspondent wrote an article for the Charleston Gazette titled “Local TV News is a Waste of Your Time.” In it, he wrote, “the local television ‘news’ landscape is populated by bubble-heads and glib, young, sometimes pretty know-nothings. The truth is, they wouldn’t know a news story if it slapped them in the face.”

Rabel recently announced he was running for the U.S. House 2nd Congressional District as an independent.

Morgan County USA reports, the news director for the Sinclair owned station, Matt Snyder, told his reporters “that no story would be aired on the station about Rabel’s independent campaign for Congress.”

“Everyone in the newsroom was given explicit instructions [by Snyder] to not write [about] or air or interview me,” Rabel told Romenesko.

“Not after what Rabel said in his Charleston Gazette op-ed,” Snyder told Morgan County USA.

There were two incidents involving Rabel over the last year.

The first incident was in November 2013.

WCHS was preparing a story on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

A WCHS news reporter wanted to interview Rabel for the story because in 1963 Rabel was the news director at WCHS and covered Kennedy’s June 20, 1963 visit to Charleston, West Virginia on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the state of West Virginia.

On June 20, 1963, Rabel was reporting live from the state capitol grounds on Kennedy’s visit.

After expressing his desire to interview Rabel about the events of the day, the news reporter was told that because of what Rabel wrote in March 2013 in the Charleston Gazette, Rabel would not be appearing on any of the station’s news programs and prohibited the reporter from interviewing Rabel.

The second incident occurred just last month when the same reporter was working on a story about Rabel launching his campaign on July 25, 2014 on Kayford Mountain, where Rabel denounced the coal industry’s practice of mountaintop removal mining.

The reporter was again told not to mention, under any circumstances, the launching of Rabel’s campaign.

The news director said that station was not to make any mention of Rabel’s independent campaign for Congress.

[Romenesko]

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