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KETK seems more interested in recruiting for the Tea Party than reporting on it

This article has been modified from the way it was originally published in the Star-Telegram and on star-telegram.com to correct Lindsay Landry's time of employment with KETK.

If you don't like the news coverage of Tea Party rallies, then I know just the TV station for you.

When entertainer Glenn Beck and Gov. Rick Perry were about to take the stage for a $25-per-ticket rally in Tyler last weekend, one reporter from Tyler's KETK/Channel 56 was almost beside herself.

"There's hundreds of people here!" shouted frenzied anchor-reporter Lindsay Landry.

Her voice rose to a higher pitch.

" Great speakers! Everyone is so excited!"

She went on.

"I've been to a ton of these tea parties, but something's different about being at this one."

KETK, "Jacksonville-Tyler," is an NBC affiliate.

Its slogan is: "News You Won't See Anywhere Else."

I'll say.

Inside the Oil Palace, the crowd gathered for Beck's stage show promoting a Tyler talk radio station. Later, Perry welcomed Beck, a former Houston disc jockey, and declared him an honorary Texas citizen.

State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, made the biggest headlines for saying, "I believe that Barack Obama is God's punishment on us." He also hinted that Obama might not be native-born.

But earlier, on the 6 p.m. news, KETK wasn't just setting the stage. The station was also selling tickets.

"If you're not out here right now and you still want to come see Glenn Beck, there are still tickets available," Landry said, breathlessly. "You just have to be here before 7 o'clock!"

She added a line rarely heard in Tea Party reports:

"It should be a lot of fun!"

I wondered whether I might be expecting too much. After all, I hate to see other newspaper columnists bash folks just for gathering.

But I also hate to see an objective newscast become Tea TV.

I asked Nann Goplerud, formerly of WFAA/Channel 8 and now interim chairwoman of the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas, to take a look.

"The reporter appears to be recruiting people to attend the event rater than reporting," she responded by e-mail.

Goplerud blamed inexperience. (Landry is a second-year reporter from Arkansas.)

"I think she probably didn't realize that her job is to report the news, not provide PR for an event," Goplerud wrote.

This wasn't KETK's first Tea Party.

Last month, the station covered a Longview event, where one of the signs read: "Waterboard Congress."

The video is on www.ketknbc.com.

"From 'crazy' to 'racist,' the mainstream media has called the [Tea] Partiers everything in the book," Landry reported then.

They use a different journalism book in Tyler.

BUD KENNEDY'S COLUMN APPEARS SUNDAYS, WEDNESDAYS AND FRIDAYS. 817-390-7538

TWITTER @BUDKENNEDY

bud@star-telegram.com

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