Home Miami TV WFOR, Gary Nelson Sued by Police Director Robert Parker

WFOR, Gary Nelson Sued by Police Director Robert Parker


The Miami Herald is reporting WFOR and WFOR reporter Gary Nelson have been hit with a defamation lawsuit by Miami-Dade police director Robert Parker.

The suit stems from an October 3, 2006 report in which WFOR claimed Parker’s son, Robert Parker Jr., had been arrested for armed robbery.

The lawsuit alleges that even after police told WFOR their story was wrong they continued to report it. And when a police spokeswoman told Gary Nelson the story was wrong, when he arrived at Miami-Dade police headquarters demanding interview with Robert Parker, he called WFOR and said there was a cover up going on.

”Nelson then proceeded to get on his cellular phone and told someone that he felt that there was some sort of cover-up,” according to the lawsuit, filed by firm Martin, Lister, Alvarez & Genovese.

Some say that this report was the catalyst that lead to all the changes at WFOR that have been happening for a while now – the new management which brought in all the new anchors and reporters.

Last year Parker’s attorneys made an offer to WFOR to settle the case for $500,000 apparently they turned it down. The lawsuit does not ask for a specific money damages.

As they say, there is no bad publicity and news like that might remind some viewers to tune in but it’s still a lawsuit about false reporting.

MiamiHerald –
Police director sues WFOR over false report

Local10.com –
Police Director Fuming After Erroneous News Report

After WFOR’s flub, WPLG did a scathing editorial lambasting them for trying to be first to a story without checking the facts. Surely this would help the police chief, no?


  1. Didn’t someone on this blog once say this was old news and to “move on”?

    This is a big “uh oh” for WFOR. They will pay and they will pay big. Trial lawyers are a greedy bunch and they do not file lawsuits they don’t already know they can win and win big. Nelson isn’t liable at all here. He was working for WFOR. That’s who they want because that’s where the big bucks are at.

    Nelson is a good reporter and has been around for years. Too bad he got stuck with this story.

  2. two words: old management.

    four bigger words: Shannon High-Bassalik

    TWO BIG WORDS: Joel Cheatwood!!

    (end of discussion!)

  3. oy vey,
    I m sure you wouldn’t think it was ridiculous if it was you or your family that was targeted by a powerful media machine with tens of thousands of viewers calling you a criminal on TV for no reason. Actually I think they do this on a regular basis but they usually don’t mess with powerful people unless they have them dead to rights.

    Wasn’t Brian A. the guy who gave them the story? Didn’t he run off to South America? Hmmm. Brian, care to speak up or are you in hot water too?

    it seems as though the discussion is still very much underway. And now that it is in the courts the real gory details are trickling out. If this ever goes to court we will all know what REALLY happened and who exactly is responsible. I doubt Ch4 wants this to happen. They already look stupid enough.

    This was a disgusting and abusive event that clearly shows how bad things are in news. Ch4 needs to made an example of. The media needs to know they can’t exploit the lives and credibility of private individuals for their ratings and financial gain.

  4. From Ben: “The media needs to know they can’t exploit the lives and credibility of private individuals for their ratings and financial gain.”

    That’s why parker will lose. He’s a PUBLIC figure. His son, however, has a better case, but not necessarily much better, considering how quickly the station corrected itself.

    As for Gary, he had ZERO to do with this. He only did the clean-up, so I don’t understand what Parker is trying to gain from suing him. Trying to scare him out of doing future stories on the department? It won’t work.

  5. Gary Nelson is a good reporter and an honest person. I have known him for 10 years.

    Barbary. What do you know about Gary? Nothing. This situation will not “scare” him. He is as tough as nails and he’s incredibly smart.

  6. its ridiculous because WFOR should pay for the mistake, gary should not. Gary made a personal obervation during a private cell phone conversation. He was not the one was approved the story for air, in fact he was sent to the PD AFTER the story made air. He is in no way at fault for the station management’s f-up. The news director who made the call to break into programming with incorrect info is at fault, not Gary.

  7. oy vey,

    G Nelson is just named in the legal action. He is not personally liable so he won’t ever pay anything. Ch4 already admitted on air several times they were wrong so the only unknown is what the number is they will scratch on the check. Ch4 would never let this go to a jury where all the dirty details and the gross incompetence of the news director and others who fabricated the story would be exposed.

    I would hope it would go to trial though. I want to see the article written about how and who created this story. Can you imagine if it comes out that they sat down in a pow wow and made up the story and how they would break into a program to publicize it. Now that would be news.

    Unless I am missing something, they have not admitted to where the story came from exactly and who is responsible. We want names.

  8. Ben, no one “sat down in a pow wow and made the story up.” You keep talking as if there was a big conspiracy. There was NO conspiracy. The problem was the opposite — the story wasn’t discussed ENOUGH. Did 4 rush something on air? Absolutely. Again, it was a miscommunication that led up to the whole thing. And trust me, NO ONE was proud or happy about it afterwards. I wasn’t personally involved, so I’m not going to say any more. But your vision of news managers in a dark room conjuring up details of a fake story about — of all people — the police director — is completely and totally off base.

  9. Okay Jodie. Than just answer one simple question. One simple little question. You are in the question asking business and your station loves to grill people who aren’t completely honest, so…

    Who was the original source of the story? Who came up with it and where did the tip come from? Just looking for a couple names. It’s nothing different than what your news teams ask people and expect they answer every day.

    If Ch4 is sorry and has owned up to it than why is that little detail so hard to come by? If no one at 4 will say who came up with story than 4 hasn’t really owned up to it entirely. I know we are just the unwashed masses out here, but sometimes we like to know things.

    Jodie, getting a small fact, like it happened on Smith Street when it actually happened on Jones Street is a miscommunication. I get that. I can understand that.

    But wasn’t this story complete fiction? That is a “miscommunication”?

    The media hates to be questioned. I get that too.

    Names Jodie. After all it was nothing more than a miscommunication.

  10. EVery time I see this video of Dwight discussing how news is being presented these days, I truly believe he’s the reason WPLG is #1. I’m upset to see him go. Seeing this video also makes me wonder if Tony Segreto, who’s been with NBC-6 longer than Dwight’s been with Local 10 did a commentary similar to Dwight’s commentary.

  11. Ben,

    The names are irrelevant. The mistake was aired by the news organization. That’s why the news organization apologized. That’s why Parker is suing the organization.

    And I don’t think I ever said it was “just” a miscommunication. I agree it was a serious and extremely regretable mistake. I don’t pretend there aren’t consequences to mistakes. But it was not a malicious conspiracy on the part of the station, as you seem to want to make it.

  12. I didn’t think you heard perfectly clear. When the story broke, the news dept was run by Shannon High-Bassalik who used to work for WSVN. Why does it matter, because they used every single trick that ‘SVN used and it blew itself over the face. Why? Miscommunication that’s all. A major communication problem. That’s why ‘FOR and CBS had to get rid of it’s old management as well as it’s news director Shannon, and start fresh again. And yet it was worth it!

  13. Jodie, you aren’t being completely honest….

    If your station was doing a news story and about wrongdoing in government and a spokes person told your station, “We have rectified the problem, don’t worry about who exactly is responsible. It doesn’t matter. Trust us. It was just a misunderstanding,” what would happen? How would your station react? Please.

    You would be screaming, “Officials involved in cover up!” “Officials refuse to name names!” I can hear the breathless announcer and see the flashy graphics already.

    You are a hypocrite. How many times has your station shoved a mic in someone’s face demanding answers like you were ordained by God?

    Yes, the names matter. If they didn’t matter than you wouldn’t refuse to tell us who they are. Duh.

    You are hiding something, unless you are saying the news director got the tip. If that’s the case, be honest and say so.

    If the person or the people are still at that station than viewers have the right to know in order to make a decision on whether or not they want to use Ch4 as a trusted news source.

    We’ll find out who they are sooner or later anyway Jodie. But one thing is certain. The truth obviously won’t come from anyone at Ch4. If the new management wants to regain trust than this would be a great place to start.

    Once again. let me play the news person.


    You can respond by attacking me or shoveling it off on someone else if you like, but you will only further my point.

    YM said, “it blew itself over the face.”
    I have no idea what you are talking about. That sounds gross. English is obviously your second or third language. Your tenses are all wrong. Perhaps a course at Miami-Dade C.C.is in order or maybe you can get that GED you’ve been telling yourself you wanted.

  14. I have no idea what you are talking about. That sounds gross. English is obviously your second or third language. Your tenses are all wrong. Perhaps a course at Miami-Dade C.C.is in order or maybe you can get that GED you’ve been telling yourself you wanted.

    That’s immature of you ben, really immature.

  15. I’m tring to have a decent conversation on what is happening and all of a sudden you decided to insult people’s intelligence with all that nonsense about getting a course at MDCC. Grow up.

  16. Consider this: When this happened, ‘FOR was catching hell from police unions for its Police Station Intimidation series that made a lot of police departments look bad. One police union actually put out an alert on its website urging members to watch out for a ‘FOR reporter on the road, even supplying his tag number.

    There was a lot of bad blood there, and really good sources close to this whole deal say the tip came from a cop, and was backed up by a second source, also in law enforcement. Strange. Some people who have a lot of information believe someone who know how reporters work set ‘FOR up. It wouldn’t be the first time this was done.

    Do I know thats true? No. But given some of the threats made against Mike Kirsch and the TV station, it’s a good theory.

    I have friends at ‘FOR, as I do at all area TV stations. 20 years in my line of work put me in close contact with a lot of newsies. People would love to talk, but can’t because of legal issues. Nobody is happy the station was played, but some serious soul searching resulted and steps were taken to prevent this from happening again.

    Rumor is that some people burned their media bridges forever to give ‘FOR a black eye. Even well defended ships can be sunk by Kamikazees. Time will tell if it was worth it for them.

  17. Scooter,
    You may have nailed it. It’s a plausible theory. But someone at Ch4 reading this knows the whole truth but won’t say it. They’ll just say half of the truth and expect that to be enough and for us to shut up and keep watching.

    One person at 4 says they went on the air and admitted to the mistake and to move on. Well, the fact is they still won’t admit to all the facts, just the ones they want known or couldn’t help getting out. That’s not the act of a person or an organization that is sincerely sorry, just one that is sorry it got caught.

    I don’t expect 4 to be honest and admit it all. I just like exposing them for being hypocrites.

    I want the media reporting on the cops and doing real hard hitting stories. While I respect cops, there are many things that departments do that need to be watched and reported. Mike K.’s stories were great. He nailed them. It was small, but his stories exposed the arrogance of some in law enforcement. Too bad they got rid of Mike. Can you picture Charles Perez or some other soft minded, eyebrow tweezing reporter doing doing that kind of story?

    One of the biggest corruption stories involving the police are the police unions. They are completely corrupt in my view have too much power and fleece taxpayers time after time. I am sure we would all love to be able to retire at 42 years old with full benefits on the public dime. We are being ripped off.

    4 needs to still do hard those hitting stories, but the problem is they have zero credibility and can’t do those stories now. Any story they do now on the police is going to be suspect if they do them at all. That’s their fault, not the person who tipped them.

    Some at 4 read this and are probably mad. Too bad. You should be mad, but not at this post.

  18. –4 needs to still do hard those hitting stories, but the problem is they have zero credibility and can’t do those stories now.

    Uh, do you even watch TV? CBS4 took Chief Timoney to the mat in a series of nationally recognized reports which forced every other media outlet in south florida to follow suit. The honest ones credited Gary Nelson’s work. The TV stations just ripped it off.

    Then, how about Gary’s investigation of Miami’s (now fired) city attorney. The city was going to give the dude a golden parachute, but Nelson’s reporting punctured it.

    Sounds like my former students working at CBS4 are really running scared.

  19. Mark,
    Uh, no, I try to limit my TV watching. Just like I limit my intake of junk food. Car wrecks, child molesters and the never ending parade of useless information is too taxing on the brain.

    Your students? Reporter Gary Nelson is your student? Gary seems to be a bit older so you must be in your 60’s or 70’s. But if the others in the media in Miami are your “students” than God help us. You need to be fired from whatever institution you are at before your protegees inflict any more damage on us.

    You are right about the stories you mentioned. Those are great stories. Nelson is a top reporter. But that is what they are supposed to be doing. It’s reportedly the job of a reporter. But it is a cruel form of punishment for a news station to make us sit through the other 99 percent of dreck they call news in order to find those few good stories. Those stories are the exception and are not the norm.

    Speaking of credit. News people at every level sit in newsrooms every day and crack open the local paper and rip them off. It happens every day in every TV station and at the networks. How often have TV people credited the Herald or the Sentinel or magazines for ripping off thousands of their stories over the years? Day old stories to boot. I have met newspaper reporters who ridicule TV reporters for doing this. The paper does the leg work and than the TV people come in a day later and claim it as their own. Refute that.


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