Friday, April 1, 2011

Update to KMBZ-Cosby Story

When we last left you all, we had the story of KMBZ's Jeff Bell being unable to participate in interview activities with Bill Cosby at the forum at Ruskin HS today. He was barred by Eric Wesson working on behalf of the consulting firm. Since then, Mr. Wesson called Darla at KMBC at around 6:15 p.m. tonight.

Out of the gate Mr. Wesson was defensive, calling the account given by KMBZ a lie, saying that Cosby never said what KMBZ said he said. It is never good to be defensive in situations like this. Best to lead by taking some responsibility for what occurred followed by an explanation of why it might have happened. The explanation did come eventually, but after this defensive opening, which appeared to call Jeff Bell and other eye witnesses liars, no one is really willing to listen to Wessen's explanations.

Basically this forum was a closed event--to attend required an invite. According to Mr. Wesson, he sent out notices to all media outlets and only two responded--Fox4 and the Kansas City Star. Considering the stature of Mr. Cosby and the environment of Ruskin High, this seems like a small response. KMBZ says they did not get any such notice. Wesson told Darla that he told Bell "No, you're [KMBZ] not on the list." When asked directly, Wesson said, "I don't have any problem with KMBZ; I'm honoring the contract." Mr. Wesson did concede that Cosby did ask why Bell was expelled. Wesson did not expand on this further. He said that "The management [Cosby's peeps] team is protective of his [Cosby's] brand and image." Wesson said to Darla that he might have tried to "fit in" KMBZ if reporter Bell had indicated that they had never received notice and had a chance to respond to an invitation.

Here's the problem: you can bet money that if Jeff Bell had put up a fuss instead of quietly and professionally leaving, we would not hear the end of it about arrogance and not following protocol. KMBZ also could have just sat on the situation also. Part of it is the power of perception; if Jeff Bell felt as if Wesson was barring him for no really good reason, just doing it because Wesson could, then he might have felt an obligation to report the truth of Wesson's behavior. The way Eric Wesson should have approached this is with an apology--I am sorry that this had the appearance of discrimination against certain media outlets and taking the responsibility for what happened. Instead we are left with a picture of someone who did appear somewhat unprofessional, and some "they said--they said" about the invitation.

It appears that after talking to Darla, Eric Wesson called Tony of Tony's Kansas City. and said many of the same things. The comment section to this post is interesting in that some commenters appear to know of Mr. Wesson and his style personally and that he can be abrupt and that he sometimes exhibits a temper.

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