GM out in court controversy


Bob Hall has resigned as General Manager of ABC O&O KFSN-TV Fresno, CA. His exit came just days after his comments about ethnic minorities led to a Fresno County Superior Court judge dismissing all 50 members of a jury pool. Despite Hall’s resignation, several Hispanic groups are planning a protest today outside the station.

Hall, who’d been KFSN’s GM since 2006, was just one of 50 potential jurors in a carjacking case last week when the judge was asking questions to see if they could fairly try the case. Hall said the case was included in a story his station’s court reporter was working on dealing with Hispanic males. “We’re working on the November stories and one that has to do with locations of crimes in Fresno. And it has to do with, without going into the details of it, the propensity of a person to commit violent crimes from socioeconomic groups,” Hall said in a court transcript obtained by the Fresno Bee newspaper. After sending the other potential jurors out of the room and questioning Hall further, the judge ruled in favor of a defense motion to dismiss the entire panel of 50 people on the basis that Hall’s role as a community leader meant that his comments might bias others.

The backlash against the station came when the Bee published a story four days later, on Friday, about the jury pool dismissal. It also posted the transcript of Hall’s exchange with the judge online. Hall told the newspaper that he wasn’t racist and didn’t know that his remarks would be taken as evidence of bias.

The GM made an on-air apology later Friday, in which, according to the Bee, he said he did not mean to imply that the station’s news department had ever conducted any research about minorities and crime. By the next day, Hall had resigned.
The station posted this statement: “KFSN TV has always strived to maintain the highest journalistic standards of fairness and accuracy. Mr. Hall believes the controversy surrounding his recent comments would have distracted the television station and the news department from that purpose.”