Surveillance footage depicting a Phoenix reporter’s team at the scene last week when an unidentified thug vandalized a Confederate memorial in the city’s Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza completely contradicts the reporter’s claim that his team arrived as the perpetrator was leaving, and gives the very strong impression that the news crew knew more about the incident than they were letting on.
When KPNX reporter Bryan West’s team arrived at the plaza on Aug. 17 to use it as a backdrop for a report, they noticed two things, or so West claimed to his viewers: The memorial had been defaced with spray paint, and a man on a bicycle was leaving the scene.
“We found that this monument has been vandalized,” West reported that morning, according to Phoenix New Times. “Actually, when we showed up, there was a man that was on a bicycle that took off from the scene. That’s why we were talking with police just a couple moments ago.”
But surveillance footage obtained by the New Times, a left-leaning paper, tells a different story. As the New Times reported, it shows “the news van’s headlights were pointed at the memorial before, during, and after the incident, illuminating it as the suspect spray-painted the monument.”
In other words, the KPNX team had, in fact, been present the whole time, meaning West has been busted red-handed telling not telling the full truth — a sick move for a journalist to make in a controversy as emotionally fraught as the Confederate monument story is.
Watch part of the surveillance footage in the video below. The lights on the vandal at work are actually coming from the KPNX news van:
The question now is this: What really happened, and why did the news crew apparently not give the full story?
One possibility is that the news crew knew the vandalism was taking place, but did not wish to — or was afraid to — stop it. In its statement, KPNX maintained that the news crew alerted authorities as soon as it was aware of the situation.
The statement issued by Dean Ditmer, the president and general manager of KPNX, certainly didn’t make the situation any clearer.
“Our crew could not see the vandalism from their vantage point,” he said in a statement to the New Times. “As surveillance video shows, the vandalism took place on the other side of the monument and their view was obstructed.”
Wrong. As the New Times correctly noted, the footage clearly shows the news van’s headlights pointed directly at the monument throughout the whole operation. The man would have been visible at times from the other side of the monument — and he certainly showed no efforts to remain concealed from the lights, as would be expected from a criminal who was trying to operate in secret.
The other possibility is that either West’s team coordinated with the perpetrator or the perpetrator was a member of his team. The fact that the suspect carried out the vandalism right in front of the news van certainly lends credence to this theory.
It’s also interesting to note that when the vandal had finished his work, he took off toward the truck’s headlights. What kind of criminal commits a crime, then heads toward lights, unless he knew that the source of the light doesn’t present any danger of identification?
To be clear, Ditmer has “denied that the news crew coordinated in any way with the suspect, or interacted with him during the incident,” according to the Times.
That’s not the impression a disinterested viewer would get from watching the surveillance video in total, as Phoenix New Times published it. In it, the bicyclist is seen riding by the monument without taking any action. It is only after the news van arrives — with its headlights illuminating the monument — that he swings into action, spray painting the stone in a crime that occurred just in time to make the morning news report.
I’m sorry, but nothing about this make sense, and given the crazy behavior of reporters these days, it seems more and more likely that this was all a setup.
One thing’s for clear either way: A television news crew was on the scene of a criminal act, the deliberate vandalism of a lawful monument, and took no action to stop it.
Why that might be is anybody’s guess.
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