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Corrections by Shelley Ross

  • Correction

    Friday, November 04, 2011

    I sent Kat Stoeffel at the NY Observer a detailed correction she promised to publish. Now, 3 weeks later, they still have not acted in good faith, something that might go a long way of proving reckless disgregard of the truth. My full correction follows, but please click on here for an easier-to-read version. http://shelleyzross.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/ny-observer-you-didnt-call-... Former ‘GMA‘ Producer Shelley Ross Resurfaces, Reminds Us of Her Embarrassments April 4, 2011 | 12:50 p.m. By Kat Stoeffel NYO: We hadn’t heard of former Good Morning America executive producer Shelley Ross until yesterday, and she would probably prefer we never did. SR: As one of only a handful of women executive producers in network news, (there were only 2 of us to exec produce any of the daily network morning shows in the last 25 years) most media reporters know who I am. I would prefer you were more knowledgable about your beat. NYO: Ms. Ross was featured in a Sunday Times round-up of ICorrect.com, which Ms. Ross pays $1,000 a year for the space to post rebuttals to what she sees as inaccuracies in blog and newspaper items lingering around the infinitely archiving web. SR: I have posted not just what I “see,” but what I can prove are lies, inaccuracies and misrepresentations. NYO: Ms. Ross is mostly worried about coverage of her dismissal from CBS, SR: Since no one ever contacted me from the NY Observer, how would anyone know what items worry me most. (Clairvoyance?) NYO: …which was documented with audible snickering by the Post, New York Magazine, and even the Times. SR: “documented with audible snickering?” Well that one’s just too darn hard to answer. NYO: “I was recently shown proof that two stories in particular, from 2007 and 2008, have been manipulated to reappear on the first page of my Google Search,” Ms. Ross wrote on her personal blog. Invoking Sarah Palin, Ms. Ross refers to the anonymous detractors as “blood bloggers,” calls ICorrect her “BFF,” and hopes it becomes as popular as the yellow pages. We hope she’s not holding her breath. SR: Just curious, speaking as “we” are you speaking for the entire paper? There’s just one name on the byline. NYO: So far it’s unclear what ICorrect offers celebrities beyond what they could accomplish on Facebook or personal websites. SR: ICorrect offers a succinct and organized reference site with solid templates for those of us who have suffered the impact of lies, sexist characterizations and twisted truths to post corrections so we don’t have to waste time or energy repeatedly addressing the offending material. NYO: ICorrect doesn’t require citations, which would at least give the rebuttals some legitimacy, SR: ICorrect requires its members to have a legal representative or a professional agent for verification. In my own corrections I have included citations and Nielsen research which verify my rebuttals. It is impossible, however, to provide eyewitnesses, for instance, to a tantrum or meltdown that never occurred. NYO: …and it’s algorithmically weak. SR: Again, the purpose was not to crack the first page of my Google search, but to place the truth on the record for interested parties to find. NYO: ICorrect has yet to crack Ms. Ross’s first page of Google results. To rig that requires a little more web savvy… SR: …which is something about which you must know since this nasty little article in the NYO, which says in the headline that I’ve “resurfaced,” cracked page one of my Google search in just hours. (Hey, Kat, I’ve never been away, but how would someone who has never heard of me know that?) Cracking page one of my Google search so quickly is quite a feat since the NY Observer ranks far below the NY Times in Google’s algorithm for authority, subscriptions and unique online browsers Maybe someone you know, or perhaps the person who suggested this article to you, has been “gaming” Google to get your article on my first page. Compared to my own articles, yours traveled at the speed of light to the top of my search. Even with 100,ooo hits in the first week online at Newsweek, “Sarah Palin: the 7 Hidden Messages in her New Reality Show” took months to get to my front page. It now looks as though the NYO piece will bump my the news that the latest (third) edition of a medical book I co-authored with a professor of clinical neurology, was selected for the launch of Dr. Mehmet Oz’s new online website, Sharecare. Yes, it is a shame this NYO story moves real accomplishments down. NYO: …or a custom consulting service, which costs more like $10,000 a month, as Ms. Ross knows if she flipped to the Style section of the same New York Times. SR: Thanks for the tutorial on reading the Times, but as you know, I addressed downside of high cost consulting services in my previous blog. NYO: “Once something is online, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to delete. SR: Then why don’t you do the right thing and delete your post? NYO: So tweaking one’s online reputation usually boils down to gaming the search engines. Image-conscious people with an understanding of the Web’s architecture can try doing it themselves, by populating the Web with favorable content. That might involve setting up their own Web site or blog, or signing up for popular social networks like Facebook,Twitter and LinkedIn,” the Times wrote. So far correction has proven a much weaker spin strategy than burial. Ms. Ross’s ICorrect have only drawn more ironic, if not outright mocking, attention, and led newcomers like yours truly to read up on years-old media beef we would have never otherwise seen. SR: Ms. Stoeffel’s column is the only place that’s been “outright mocking,” a sad commentary for a media reporter so recently promoted from intern, as noted her November announcement: (Citation: Village Voice, November 29, 2010: “Breaking: The New York Observer Hires Kat Stoeffel, a Lady! A Media Reporter Lady! “ which includes a “Memo from Aaron Gell, subject: Welcome Kat!” Note to Aaron: you need to help Kat learn the recent history of network news and protect her from sources who slip the Observer stories like this one, and the one slipped to her predecessor, Felix Gillette. And one other point: it is naive to consider this effort “tweaking” one’s online reputation. Truth is never a spin strategy, it’s a non-negiotiable prinicple to honor. NYO: Does anyone ever come out of a defensive internet campaign with their reputation redeemed? SR: First, I wouldn’t call the action of setting the record straight a “campaign.” To more specifically answer your question about redemption, too bad you can’t ask it of Richard Jewell. If you’ve never heard of him either, in 1996 he was a security guard falsely identified as Atlanta’s Olympic bomber. It was a really big story as reported: a nutjob in a uniform who planted a bomb in a backpack so he could find it and be hailed as a hero. It turned out Jewell was, in fact, a real hero, a humble security guard who probably saved more than a hundred lives. In the end, he sued all the news organizations who repeated or embellished false stories from their anonymous FBI sources. He even collected gigantic sums of money from some. You see, publishing a lie with malicious intent or reckless disregard for the truth is against the law. (Contacting your subject in advance certainly diminishes your risk.) NYO: Can a rebuttal be vivid enough to record over the tabloid hit piece in the collective memory? Not if they keep getting anecdotes like this: SR: I wasn’t trying to be vivid, but I’ll do my best with your selection below: NYO: After CBS fired Ms. Ross, a colleague from her previous job at ABC, Charlie Gibson, reportedly muttered at a funeral they both attended over the weekend, “It took us six years to get rid of her. How come it only took them five months?” SR: This item in particular is not an item that brings any embarrassment to me at all, as you suggest in your headline. This item only brings shame to Charlie Gibson who has never apologized for, or retracted the disgraceful comments he uttered during a profoundly sad funeral service. He did however, through a spokesman at the time, express his regret that his comments were repeated.To really get the picture of how truly disgusting it was to learn that anyone sat gossiping during this funeral service, let alone a person in such a position of leadership and authority, you first have to know who was being eulogized. James Bogdanoff was a beloved colleague with whom I had worked many years at ABC News. He started out in the tape department; I was a already a seasoned producer for PrimeTime Live. Years later, when I became executive producer of Good Morning America, I asked James to be the late night producer, a key job with the tremendous responsibility to troubleshoot all the last-minute scripts, videos and details of the show, plus handle overnight breaking news. He handled the job with humor and grace. James was only 47 when lost his 4-month battle with esophageal cancer, leaving behind a young wife, an 8-year-old daughter and two 20-something nephews he had raised. The nephews had lost both their parents just nine months apart and on this day, they stood before a packed house of mourners who had gathered to honor James and recalled the moment their young uncle sat on their bed and gently asked their permission to move into their house and look after them. This funeral was as excruciating as it gets. So it’s not difficult to imagine the horror of the family and friends first hearing that James’ funeral made Page Six, only to read Charlie Gibson’s cheap gossip remark. So, Kat, I hope I proved you wrong; I hope you find this rebuttal vivid enough to record over any tabloid hit piece in the collective memory. I believe the facts in my other corrections, albeit less vivid, will be as indelible. kstoeffel@observer.com :: @kstoeffel

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  • Correction

    Friday, November 04, 2011

    This story a clip and re-write of a false and malicious item that first appeared on Page Six of the New York Post. I choose to correct it now because this 3-year-old item mysteriously and regularly returns to the first page of my google search. Again, I am called "tantrum prone executive producer," Again, I have never thrown a temper tantrum in the workplace or anywhere around colleagues. "Forced one producer to read an apology to his colleagues." Here is the full story: the show's medical producer, Rob Foreman, had offended his senior producers and others in a meeting in which he answered a question with the flip response, "Since when does this show care about scientific evidence." As I was not in the original meeting, I later met privately with Foreman, who apologized for his outburst.The senior producer he'd answered back was present. I accepted Foreman's apology, then suggested he needed to find a remedy to clear the air with other colleagues present, approaching them privately or as a group. Foreman decided to do neither, after which the CBS V.P. for standards and practices instructed me that he was to apologize to his colleagues or be fired. It was Foreman's choice to address his colleagues in the daily editorial meeting instead of privately. Sadly, he chose to make a mockery of his apology, reading aloud a deliberately awkward statement. Now comes the most disgusting of the "twisted truths": that I "orderded" a colleague "to reschedule his colonoscopy because it was sweeps month." Here are the facts. When I joined the show, I had instituted a policy that all vacations during sweeps had to be signed off by me. Producers still had all their vacation days, and some got to take off during sweeps, we just couldn't have too many producers out at the same time. It was the only way to make sure all newly created shifts were covered. Sometime in February, I was informed that Bob Meyers, our over-night producer, had a colonscopy appointment he'd scheduled months earlier; he said he'd forgotten all about it until he got a reminder from the doctor's office. Bob knew how much we came to rely on him to handle late-breaking news, rundown changes and a host of last-minute problems in the middle of night. He wanted to know what to do since the colonoscopy prep would require that he take not one, but two days -- or rather nights off. I asked if there was even a hint of a medical concern, and Bob assured us this was strictly routine, the first colonoscopy one is supposed to get upon turning 50. Bob then agreed to slide his appointment about 3 or 4 days which was easily easily done, but not before some cowardly malcontent decided to leak a twisted version to the press for the first publication on Friday Feb 29. On the following Monday, Bob Myers stood up in a full staff meeting and, uncoached by me, bravely and humorously identified himself as "colonoscopy boy." He then set the record straight delivering the above facts to the rest of the staff. He also sent me a kind e-mail in which he said he was sorry for how it all turned out. And he said how much he loved working on the newly revamped Early Show; that he thought I'd made it immediately and infintely better. As soon as I can dig it out of my files, I'll be happy to post it verbatim. As for Bill Carter's statements: "Ross is fighting sluggish ratings" -- By the time of the Huff Post item, I had increased the audience in the key demographic (A25-54) by 195.000 viewers in a news cycle that saw declines in every other daily news show. I had ratings for the Early Show durng this time that have never again been matched. I'll be addressing Harry Smith's behavior in a future column.

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  • Correction

    Friday, November 04, 2011

    This TV Newser article shows reckless disregard for the truth, falsely portraying my real achievements by cherry-picking just 14 out of my 23-week tenure to show only a "slight year-to-year increase" in total viewers. During my short tenure, The Early Show had a dramatic increase of 195,000 viewers in the key demographic (adults 25-54). In fact, TES was the only daily network news show to post any increase in the demo, the key target for ad revenue and marketing. An alternate story might have been "Early Show Narrows Demo Gap with GMA by Nearly 250,000." Here are the official Nielsen numbers for audience gains and losses (A25-54) from Sept 25, 2007 to February 29, 2008: CBS THE EARLY SHOW + 195,000 ABC GOOD MORNING AMERICA - 52,000 NBC TODAY SHOW - 20,000 CBS EVENING NEW/K. Couric - 340,000 ABC WORLD NEWS/ C. Gibson - 125,000 NBC NIGHTLY NEWS/B. Williams - 200,000. Shamefully, TV Newser selectively omitted the week of January 14, 2008 in their review of my "reign," a week when The Early Show had a record 1,864,000 viewers (A25-54) -- an audience not achieved by any of my three successors, even in the historic weeks of the election and inauguration of Barack Obama. For a better understanding of what a 1,864,000 demo means for The Early Show, compare it to the week of March 7, 2011, when morning show audiences soared with the breaking news of the earthquake in Japan. Today had a demo of 2,700,000, GMA: 1,960,000, The Early Show: 1,170,000. In closing, TV Newser could have easily written a fair and accurate account of record by simply looking through their own weekly archives of Nielsen ratings.

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  • Correction

    Friday, November 04, 2011

    This entire article is an invention from the headline down. The use of the term 'ballistic' is sexist and false. I do not have a "volcanic temper" and I am not "known for it," by anyone who's worked with me. When I took over The Early Show at CBS, I hired 16 great people to help dramatically change the show, my assignment. Some producers were re-assigned to other shows, some left. Many thrived. "the screaming, the 3 a.m. phone calls..." I never raised my voice through my entire tenure at CBS. The 3 a.m. phone calls were from a great the senior producer on the overnight shift who would inform me of overnight developments, breaking news, and rundown changes. "Shelley's working with a much thinner staff than she's used to" is another lie. The Early Show actually had a larger staff than Good Morning America. The wildfires: there was no dispute over a charter plane, which the president of the news division at the time personally explained to the reporter of the NY Post over the many weeks they insisted on running this "story." There was no "full-on meltdown." The plane was chartered for Katie Couric. I did not claim that Katie had stolen my guest. In a morning executive meeting witnessed over a dozen news people, I spoke about our success with an Early Show guest and explained that I had arranged for our booker to deliver the guest to Katie Couric if she wanted a follow-up for Evening News, While still in the meeting, Rick Kaplan got on a cell phone with Katie Couric who was with the Early Show guest, in a car driven by the Early Show booker. They all went to view the guest's burned out home together, with a CBS crew. If the guest had accepted the invitation to come to NY, and there was room on Katie's charter, the Early Show would have contributed the cost of a commercial ticket, which is customary. Someone really likes this false item a lot. Three and a half years after it appeared in the NY Post, it still appears on the first page of my Google search.

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