What are we supposed to think about Peter Karl’s renewed relationship with Channel 5 News?
For those that are not up to speed Mr. Karl renewed his journalistic relationship with NBC recently. Karl signed on with NBC recently to profile unsolved murder cases for NBC’s 10PM and morning newscasts. For those not in the know Peter Karl was once a legitimate journalist working for NBC. He quit his role at NBC to build his production company. One of his clients since his retirement has been the Chicago Police Department. For his client, he has produced and hosted CrimeWatch a weekly television show about crime in the City. The news type program airs on the network Karl left. The bills for all expenses incurred on the show have been covered by the CPD
The issue at hand is whether or not NBC should be allowing an individual under contract with the CPD to work as a spokesperson on crime issues to work as a journalist on the same topic. Let’s be clear here, Peter Karl’s work on CrimeWatch is not as a journalist but as spokesperson, flak, or more bluntly a propagandist. The CPD is not paying Karl’s production company $815,490 for objective work on crime issues in the city. What they are paying him for is nicely packaged infomercials that appear in the form of journalistic endeavors. They are also paying for Karl’s name and face recognition as a journalist in Chicago.
Is there a conflict of interest? I say there is, and I believe the following quoted section of the contract proves that Karl’s loyalties will lay with the CPD rather than the news product. Section 2.11 of Karl’s contact with the CPD has a confidentiality agreement that states:
(b) Consultant must not issue any publicly news releases,or grant interviews, and, except as may be required by law during or after the performance of this Agreement, disseminate any information regarding its Services or the project to which the Services pertain without prior written consent of the Comptroller.
I guess the next logical question is whether or not Karl sought out and received permission from the CPD to work with NBC? Maybe he did not have to; he just would not be able to discuss his work on Crimewatch or any other project he has worked on for the CPD. Maybe NBC has ordered their journalist to not ask Karl any inappropriate questions to avoid violating his confidentially agreement.
When you go to the website for CrimeWatch you will see that the production of this video is part of the CAPS program, Chicago’s famous alternative policing strategy. What has been masquerading as community policing in Chicago. What is familiar to Karl’s contract to other CAP’s contracts is that they include a confidentially agreement that mutes any complaints about the CAPS program from those that receive funding through it. It seems like it also has the ability to silence reporters on newscasts in Chicago.
Where is all the outrage from the reporters in Chicago about one of colleagues working under a confidentially agreement? I know why there has not been any outrage, none of them took the time to look up his contracts from the city and see what they contain. Just as a little reminder, I have never seen anything in any newspapers in the City about the confidentially agreements found within the CAPS contracts! This silence might just be due to the confidentially agreements and an incredibly lazy press.
One major question that remains to be answered is how Karl’s presence will impact coverage of the Chicago Police. I guess only time will tell us because Karl is not going to, because he can’t.
We will be bringing you more analysis of the CAPS programs and funding throughout the following months. We are going to take close looks at contracts, funding, number of participants reported and really participating, and results of the program. Stay tuned!