Five years ago, Fort Worth Weekly’s annual “Best Of” edition named KDFW/Channel 4’s Rebecca Aguilar as top TV reporter for her aggressive style of broadcast journalism.
But that same forcefulness got her suspended indefinitely last week after Fox 4 viewers complained about how she grilled a 70-year-old man who recently shot and killed two burglars at his Dallas machine shop over a three-week period. Aguilar later approached the man as he was leaving a store with a brand-new shotgun under his arm and began questioning him about the shootings, at one point asking him if he were trigger happy.
Afterward, the blogosphere was inundated with hundreds of outraged folks calling Aguilar everything from heartless to an arrogant bitch and demanding her termination. Gun activists characterized it as an attack on the right to bear arms. Others said the tone in her voice seemed to insinuate that the man was guilty of something. Others didn’t like the way she rolled her R’s. Few people defended her actions -some local reporters called the story a hatchet job.
Static has viewed the news report numerous times and doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. Aguilar asked pertinent questions, if a bit bluntly. She gave the guy a chance to tell his side of the story. He cried, he lamented shooting the men, and he said he’d served in the Army and never shot anybody. The camera showed his hands shaking. He was a sympathetic figure. So sympathetic, in fact, that people turned on Aguilar, even reportedly sending her death threats.
Well, folks, they call us ink-stained wretches for a reason. Sometimes we’re not tactful, sometimes we go overboard, sometimes we piss off folks. But aggressive journalism is often the only way to get to the bottom of things, and it ain’t always pretty. Without bulldogs in the press corps, newspapers would be filled with headlines such as “Mission accomplished in Iraq” and “Fort Worth blossoms under urban gas drilling.” It’s a sad day when pressure from viewers, readers, bloggers, gun activists, and racist crackpots spurs a news organization to ignore the principles of investigative journalism and throw a reporter to the dogs.
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists, which earlier this month named Aguilar its Broadcast Journalist of the Year, has expressed its support of her – and been called apologists and racists for their trouble.
The Aguilar news report was on YouTube for a while but was yanked and replaced with a note saying, “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by KDFW FOX 4 TV.” However, at press time it was still available at www.swankyconservative.com/kdfw-out-of-line-with-ambush-reporting.
Static thinks Fox 4 wimped out. See for yourself.