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November 20, 2007
'Good Day Sac' reporter gives beer to the homeless

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Jay Henderson, a reader from Folsom, writes to say he was stunned on Monday morning to see "Good Day Sacramento" reporter Chris Burrous (left) give a case of beer and a bag of McDonald's food to a homeless woman during a live segment.

The Bee has confirmed that Burrous made the on-air gesture (beer of choice: Bud Light) while reporting from the homeless camp in Natomas set up by bounty hunter Leonard Padilla.

Is it proper for a TV news anchor to give beer to a homeless resident?

No answer from Channel 13.

Steve Charlier, vice president for news for channels 13 and 31, did not return phone calls. Brent Baader, the Channel 31 executive in charge of daily operation of "Good Day Sacramento," referred all calls to station president Bruno Cohen.

Cohen returned a reporter's phone call but agreed only to an off-the-record conversation.

Burrous also did not return phone calls.

But Henderson, who says he is a fan of "Good Day," says he was shocked by Burrous' actions.

In an email to The Bee, Henderson wrote, "I could not believe what I was watching. Apparently Mr. Burrous is unaware that alcoholism is prevalent in the homeless community, and is also one of the causes of homelessness. He has a record of insensitivity to their plight, but this example was over the line, in my opinion. I am still stunned at his actions."

Henderson says he emailed his concerns to station management and on-air talent. He says the only response he received was from Stefanie Cruz, Burrous' co-anchor on the Channel 13 morning show. Henderson shared Cruz's email response with The Bee.

Cruz wrote:

"Hi Jay,

Thank you for your e-mail and for watching Good Day. I really appreciate your feedback and I understand why you were offended. All of us did have a conversation about the segment. We agreed it was not the best decision. His intent was to have a little fun and not put down or make fun of the homeless people. I assure you we take these issues seriously and the last thing we want to do is offend or insult anyone.

Best wishes.

Sincerely,

Stefanie"

Though Channel 13 personnel would not talk to The Bee about the beer incident, on this morning's Channel 13 news -- co-hosted by Burrous and Cruz -- the anchors referred to the beer incident during a conversation with radio DJs Pat & Tom from KNCI.

Talking about the Thanksgiving parade the radio pair annually host, Tom Mailey said to Burrous: "We understand you're buying McDonald's and beer, so we want to thank you for that."

Partner Pat Still then asked Burrous: "How'd that go?"

Burrous: "Really well."

Cruz: "Not so much."

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