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July 30, 2007
Score one for Channel 13's Kurtis Ming


We try to be fair at 21Q (maybe the only blog in the 10-year history of blogs that strives for fairness), so when a local TV news stations does something positive, we report on it, as well.

Steve Charlier, Channel 13's news honcho, called today to crow that his "Call Kurtis" investigative team was responsible for "shutting down" the Medical Board of California's ineffective drug and alcohol diversion plan. See The Bee's story here.

Several damning state audits also may have played a huge part. But, yes, evidence from Kurtis Ming's special reports during the last two sweeps periods on the medical board's lack of response against former Sacramento plastic surgeon Brian West was used as evidence in last week's hearing. (That's West, pictured left, being confronted by Kurtis.)

We commend Ming and Channel 13 for its work. But our earlier criticisms had little to do with the story itself. Rather, we had problems with the sensationalized way Channel 13 presented the pieces - scary, synthesizer music; quick-cutting camera shots, and Ming running down a flight of stairs to try to catch the doctor in question.

Here's what we posted on 21Q in November:

Over at Channel 13 at 10 p.m., there was another scare-the-stuffing-out-of-you “special report.” This time, it was Kurtis Ming’s investigation into a plastic surgeon (Brian West) with an alcohol problem who allegedly has disfigured patients but hasn’t been reprimanded by the state medical board.

It was a weird feeling of deja vu. All that talk of flesh-eating infections, the gross video of women’s disfigured limbs, the righteous indignation Ming exuded.
Then it hit me: This was a Channel 13 “special report” from LAST NOVEMBER. Yup, the same story, albeit updated. Back then, they called it “Plastic Disasters.” This time, no catchy name, but Ming recycled (or “repurposed,” as the current journalism catchphrase goes) the report.

The new stuff was that the “drinking doctor,” West, had landed a job in Long Beach. Ming and a Channel 13 photographer stalked him and chased him down three flights of stairs, throwing questions at him. Cheesiest of all, we saw Ming sprint down a hallway to catch West as he was driving out of the parking garage.

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