Independent Investigation into Elijah McClain’s Death Points Finger at Aurora Police & Fire Departments

Elise Schmelzer at The Denver Post: “Aurora police officers did not have a legal basis to force Elijah McClain to stop walking, to frisk him or to use a chokehold on him, an independent investigation commissioned by the city found. The initial investigation into the incident led by the department’s detectives in the Major Crimes Unit was also deeply flawed, the investigators found. The detectives failed to ask basic, critical questions of the officers involved in McClain’s death and instead ‘the questions frequently appeared designed to elicit specific exonerating ‘magic language’ found in court rulings,’ the report states.”

“The investigators also found that Aurora paramedics failed to properly examine McClain before injecting him with 500 milligrams of the sedative ketamine — a dose based on a ‘grossly inaccurate’ estimation of McClain’s weight. Paramedics estimated he weighed 190 pounds but he actually weighed closer to 140 pounds.”

“’Aurora Fire appears to have accepted the officers’ impression that Mr. McClain had excited delirium without corroborating that impression through meaningful observation or diagnostic examination of Mr. McClain,’ the investigators wrote.”

Seattle Mariners Exec Resigns after Comments Showing ‘Pathological Levels of Arrogance, Hubris’

Seattle Mariners CEO Kevin Mather resigned this afternoon. Why? From ESPN:

“Over the course of a 45-minute chat to a local Rotary Club in early February, Seattle Mariners CEO Kevin Mather disparaged a Japanese player for not learning English, belittled a star prospect from the Dominican Republic for his language skills and derided another top prospect while admitting to manipulating his service time. He called his team’s best pitcher ‘very boring’ and embellished the pitcher’s actions in a clubhouse incident, told another falsehood about a well-respected veteran and complained that the franchise’s best player over the past decade was ‘overpaid.'”

“Any one of these blunders is incalculably foolish. Together, they expose pathological levels of arrogance, hubris and myopia. This was one of the 30 people entrusted to run a Major League Baseball franchise before Mather resigned from his position Monday afternoon.”

Variety: ‘Crisis PR Fails the Celebs Who Spin Their Sins’

“Rarely a day seems to go by in recent weeks without a celebrity seeing their career threatened by the social-media uproar attending either their own poorly chosen words or allegations about appalling behavior,” Andrew Wallenstein at Variety reports.

“From Morgan Wallen to Gina Carano to Armie Hammer, Hollywood executives are getting frequent reminders lately about the considerable risk that comes with associating their investments with unpredictable talent. … No one feels the weight of that burden more than the crisis-PR practitioners fighting on the frontlines on behalf of their clients. If there’s any silver lining to this rash of incidents, it’s that they offer a wealth of best and worst practices from which to learn how to most effectively handle these sticky situations.”

Natalie Tysdal’s Departure from Fox31/KWGN Coincides with Husband’s Court Date

Former Fox31/KWGN anchor Natalie Tysdal’s recent departure from the affiliated stations has been presented as just another case of a journalist getting out of a tough business. But as Westword’s Michael Roberts reports, her husband’s impending court date to answer for “70 counts connected to alleged financial malfeasance” may have also had something to do with the timing.

Among the charges Tyler Tysdal is facing are violations of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, multiple counts of securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and one count of theft. All are felonies. Among the alleged victims are former NFL quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Matt Cassel.

Natalie Tysdal is just the latest media figure to get tripped up by her husband. Last fall, the husband of former 9News sports anchor and current KOA NewsRadio Broncos sideline reporter Susie Wargin was accused of sexual assault by a Colorado State University student. Pro tip to female journalists: you may want to consider staying single.

GBSM Adds 3 Team Members

Denver PR firm GBSM has added a senior associate and two associates:

Abby Abel, formerly Chief Marketing Officer for GE’s global renewable-energy business and a consultant with policy and civic innovation firm Cityfi, has joined the firm as a senior associate.

Sam Haas has joined GBSM as an associate. She specializes in the planning and execution of authentic and impactful communications, public and stakeholder engagement, and organizational strategies. She brings a tailored focus on meaningful collaborative–process design, consensus-driven decision making, and facilitation.

Kaylie Showers, also joining GBSM as an associate, has worked in both the public and private sectors to strategically engage diverse communities, navigate complex government processes and leverage legislative policy. Most recently she worked for the City and County of Denver’s Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships where she managed multiple citywide efforts.

Vic Lombardi: Altitude TV Partly to Blame in Carriage Dispute – for Not Better Explaining how Comcast is Entirely to Blame

Michael Roberts at Westword reports: “Vic Lombardi is frustrated. Everywhere he goes, the Altitude TV host and multiple winner of Westword‘s Best TV Sportscaster award runs into fans upset about not being to see most Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche games on Comcast because of a fight over broadcasting rights that began in the summer of 2019 and shows no sign of being resolved. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of those fans blame Altitude TV for the deadlock. After all, the network (as well as the Nuggets, Avs, Colorado Mammoth and Colorado Rapids) are owned by billionaire Stan Kroenke, who, by their way of thinking, could simply write a check and make the problem go away but is obstinately refusing to do so.”

“According to Lombardi, the situation isn’t nearly so simple. He feels that both parties (plus DISH, which isn’t airing the channel, either) are to blame, with Altitude shouldering some responsibility for failing to clearly communicate the issues that have led to the standoff. As for Comcast, he thinks the cable giant is essentially getting a free ride despite what he sees as it overcharging customers for regional sports network coverage they haven’t gotten for nearly a year and a half.”

Chiefs-Bucs Super Bowl Draws Lowest Ratings Since 2007

“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ lopsided win over the Kansas City Chiefs combined with a pandemic that prevented many from attending big viewing parties in homes and bars led to the smallest audience for a Super Bowl since 2007,” Joe Flint at The Wall Street Journal reports.

“About 96.4 million people watched ageless wonder Tom Brady lead the Buccaneers to a 31-9 Super Bowl victory over the defending champion Chiefs on CBS, a 5.5% decrease from the 102 million that saw last year’s much closer and coronavirus-free match between the Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers on Fox.”

‘Ryan Haarer: Why I Left 9News for the Real Estate Industry’

Michael Roberts at Westword talks to former 9News reporter/anchor Ryan Haarer on his decision to leave the business to pursue a career in real estate:

“Viewers may assume that reporters and anchors on TV are making a king’s ransom, but that’s not the case for most local talent. Back in 2019, when he announced his own exit plan (one that was followed by a return to the airwaves and then a controversial dismissal over a pointed tweet), former 9News weathercaster Marty Coniglio told us, ‘There are a lot of schoolteachers who are making more money than some on-air people here. That’s the reality of the business.'”

“For his part, Haarer confirms, ‘If you’re asking if I want to increase my pay, I think every journalist would say they do. There are few people who work in the newsroom who are paid sky-high salaries. That’s no secret. I was well-paid at 9News; I had no issues with my pay. But these are lean and tough times for a lot of journalism outlets, and TV is no exception as the industry looks to redefine itself and determine what the future will be.'”

Amber Alert ‘Malfunction’ Puts Texans on the Lookout for Chucky the Killer Doll

Due to a “test malfunction” (translation: human error), the Texas Department of Public Safety broadcast an Amber Alert for the horror-film doll Chucky.

Bryan Pietsch of The New York Times reported, “The alert said that Chucky and (the doll’s owner) Glen were last seen at a residential address in Henderson, Texas, a city about 130 miles southeast of Dallas. A woman who answered a call to a phone number associated with that address on Wednesday said, ‘Yes, I’m aware’ when asked about the alert before hanging up.”

“Don Mancini, the director and screenwriter who created the Chucky character, shared a news article about the alert on Twitter, saying, ‘PLEASE FIND THEM.’”

SSPR Rebrands as Next PR

SSPR, a national agency with an office in Denver, is rebranding as Next PR. The change, the agency says, highlights its ability to “push the boundaries of traditional PR that enables brands to meet new challenges and opportunities head on.”

“As difficult as it was, 2020 was also a powerful learning and growth experience for us as an agency,” said Heather Kelly, Next PR CEO. “We proved that we’re not a one-size-fits-all firm operating out of a traditional PR playbook. Any agency can tell you what to say; we make sure your brand is also living up to that promise. We’re not afraid to push our clients to think outside traditional PR boundaries. 

SSPR was founded by namesake Steve Simon in Chicago in 1978.

Efforts to Build Individual Brands, Express Opinion Create Tension Between Reporters and Management

Ben Smith at The New York Times reports, “David Carr, the legendary Timesman who made this column a destination, told me back in 2012 that he kept a ‘helicopter on the roof’ of The New York Times Building in case he needed to escape. After all, he had been taking shots at media moguls, including, occasionally, his own bosses. That helicopter, he said, was his Twitter account, and it gave him the power, if needed, to flee The Times and take his followers — more than 300,000 when he died in 2015.”

“Twitter has occupied an uncomfortable place between journalists and their bosses for more than a decade. It offers journalists both a newswire and a direct line back into the news cycle. But it has also set off a tug of war between the voice of the brand and of the individual.” …

“The other, and perhaps more ominous, tension for the big newsrooms is the one that Mr. Carr spotted in 2012. Social media has shifted the balance of power in the same direction it has long been moving in everything from entertainment to sports: away from management and big brands, and toward the people who used to be called reporters, but now sometimes get referred to as ‘talent.’ Reporters have every incentive to build big social media followings. It’s a path to television contracts, book deals, job offers and raises. And that can be in tension with what their employers want.”