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Florida Politics Reporters Fighting Over Which One of Them Is Sloppy

Last week, we told you about how Miami Herald reporter Marc Caputo called out TV reporter Mike Deeson for "sloppy, trashy Tampa TV reporting." He said Deeson was misrepresenting accusations that former Gov. Charlie Crist paid to cover up gay affairs, making it sound like the charges were coming from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement when they were actually coming from a lawyer in the Jim Greer corruption trial who is pressuring Crist to change his sworn testimony.

"[Deeson] seems more determined to file tendentious reports to show former Gov. Charlie Crist is gay rather than present facts in a basic, objective manner," Caputo wrote.

I called Deeson on Friday to get a response; he called back yesterday afternoon.

"I thought it was really out of line, quite frankly," he said of Caputo's post. "If you were to look, I never mention the FDLE in any of [the stories]; I mention the charges come straight from Damon Chase, never mention it was contained in an FDLE report... To me, it's sloppy not looking at the video. The video is right there for him to click on and look at."

If we're talking about the broadcast piece, the yeah, Deeson does make it clear where the accusations are coming from, and the FDLE isn't involved. But check out the lede to the online story attached to the video:
Tallahassee, Florida - 10 News has learned of allegations of homosexual affairs, a governor trying to kiss another man, and drunken escapades by former Governor Charlie Crist.

These allegations come in the form of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement Investigative Report in the Republican Party Chair Jim Greer saga.
Point: Caputo.

When I asked about this, Deeson said, "As you know, with editors, sometimes they get changed around. I'm a TV reporter." Hrmph.

Deeson said he wasn't trying to disguise the source of the accusations, and that he thought it was important that the accusations were coming from a lawyer as well-known as Chase is.

"This wasn't just some yahoo out of the phone book," Deeson said. "I quite frankly thought it was bigger news [that Chase said it]... I think that's a major story."

That still doesn't explain the wording of his online story, which doesn't mention Chase until the fifth paragraph -- the part Caputo took exception to, and in an email to the Pulp said "borders on Kafkaesque reporting."

From Caputo's email:
The problems with the pieces remain. The first piece leaves a strong impression this was from an official "Report." It really gives little indication up top that it's from a defendant making an accusation. And it fails to note initially that this stemmed from a witness-tampering complaint from Crist. Two major omissions...

As for watching the TV piece, once you get past the initial disclosure, it still leaves the viewer with the impression that this is a finding from an official "report." It's not. 
He also posted an email from Deeson on his original blog post. Not addressed, however, is Deeson's claims that Caputo didn't call him for comment before beating him up on the Herald's Naked Politics blog.

"If I was gonna write something attacking folks, I might email them or call them too and say, 'What do you have to say.' That's pretty standard journalistic practice," Deeson said. "Caputo never called me."

He continued, "I'm a big boy. I'm an investigative reporter. I do a lot of tough stories on people. But I thought that it was unfounded ... if he's going to be the arbiter of what's good journalism and what's bad journalism."

In summary: Caputo says Deeson is sloppy, Deeson says Caputo is sloppy, Greer still facing prison time.

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Rich Abdill

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