In an breathless “expose” that only Will Ferrell’s “Ron Burgundy” character from Anchorman could love, an obviously inexperienced “investigative” reporter for a local cable news organization climaxed her over-the-top report by melodramatically bursting into a closed meeting of Sexaholics Anonymous “demanding answers” to her “disturbing questions” and expressing “frustration” that the startled sex addicts would not interrupt their meeting to sit down with her for impromptu on-camera interviews.
As News12 owner Cablevision does not make their web site available to non-subscribers we can’t show you the entire piece but we’ve edited together a few clips into a remix to illustrate the points made in this post — that while it MAY be true that a person who should not have been at the SA meeting was at the meeting, the over-the-top production with sound effects, gimmicky lighting and tilted camera angles is used to mask the mundane nature of the story and does not justify in any way Rosenblum intruding on a private meeting where sick people go to get help for serious psychological, emotional and spiritual problems. Nowhere in the piece does Rosenblum concern herself with the impact her intrusion will have on the mental health of the people she is filming and accomplishes nothing that could not have been accomplished without intruding on a meeting of sick people trying to get well.
With lights blazing and cameras rolling, Tara Rosenblum, in what could pass for an homage to Burgundy’s co-anchor Veronica Corningstone, pushes her way into a meeting room at Holy Family Church and interrupts an in-progress, closed 12-Step meeting in a grand-standing stunt she grandiosely bills as “The Confrontation”. She is also trespassing and when asked to leave refuses and continues to question the people. You can just barely hear it over her shouted questions but you can make out a man’s voice saying politely “please leave”.
Here’s a tip for Ms. Rosenblum, if you have to resort to the use of ominous background music and kettle drums, slow motion video, titled camera angles, flashing reverse negative images, and leading questions intoned in your best “Dr. Evil” voice, then you don’t really have much of a story. A good investigative report stands on its own merits.
For those who don’t subscribe to Cablevision and were spared News 12’s descent into theater of the absurd, the entire story revolves around the shocking fact that one entrance to the building where the meetings take place is “steps away” or a “stone’s throw away” from an entrance to the Holy Family gymnasium where CYO basketball games are sometimes scheduled to coincide with the start of the SA meeting. That meetings of 12-step groups routinely take place in meeting rooms at churches is hardly news but you wouldn’t know that from the breathless reporting of Tara Rosenblum who has apparently spent a few Tuesday evenings last March slugging down coffee and inhaling cigarettes in a vehicle parked on Clove Road in New Rochelle to stakeout SA members enter and exit the meeting room.
If you can get past the thumping bass chords and disorienting images flashed on the screen, you will hear Rosenblum admit the group has been meeting for many years without any sort of complaint let alone any incident that she so frighteningly predicts. Initially she says that one of the men is a pedophile but later tells the Assistant Monsignor at the Church “we have it confirmed that some convicted sex offenders are in that meeting”. So which is it, one or many?
What I would like to know is how Rosenblum knows anything at all about the people in the meeting. Did Rosenblum send someone to the meeting “undercover”? If so, is that not a gross violation of journalistic ethics?
Did a member or former member of the group make claims to her about the other members of the group? If so, how did she verify the information? 12-Step members do not identify themselves by their full name so how did Ronseblum know who was who.
If she was able to positively identify convicted sex offenders then why blur out their identity or shoot them from behind to hide their faces? Their convictions are public records so there is no reason for her not to simply say “Joe Smith, a man convicted of this particular crime, in this particular case, was in attendance at that meeting”.
More telling is that this story was done between January and March (the CYO basketball season ends the third week of March) and the response for the New York Archdiocese came April 6th and the story did not run until June. Why was this story left in the can for two months and then run on a weekend. If this was such an urgent problem why did they wait? And at this point, why run the piece at all especially given that her own report says the SA meetings at Holy Family ended in March?
Obviously, I am not condoning pedophilia and pederasty or sex crimes and I can certainly agree with the Assistant Monsignor at Holy Family that convicted sex offenders should not be put in close proximity to children but don’t we want people these people to join programs like Sexaholics Anonymous to get support and hopefully the sort of help they need. Wasn’t their some other solution here? And what purpose was served by bursting into the meeting? Short answer: none. That was clearly done for dramatic effect, to create a spectacle. To that extent, this report is a disgrace.
What bothered me the most about this piece is News 12 treating everyone in the room like they were criminals. What is more disturbing is the notion that Channel 12 News believes it is an acceptable journalistic practice to go onto private property and then enter a closed meeting of a 12-Step group “demanding answers” from people who are quite likely not in a position to answer them. If Tara Rosenblum had done even the slightest bit of homework she should know that members of ANONYMOUS groups like this one are not even allowed to give interviews as members of the group. It’s sort of implied in the name of the group, right?
Mostly I am concerned of the impact that his report has on people who do benefit from attending these meetings and now rightfully fear that Rosenblum may come barging into their meetings and so stay away and thus do not get the help they need.
If you saw the full piece on Channel 12 News I hope you will agree that whatever good, if any, came from this news report it was a lot less about protecting children from convicted sex offenders and a lot more about providing Tara Rosenblum a platform to PLAY “investigative reporter” and hyperventilate into the camera and display faux outrage against the Catholic Church for allowing recovering addicts to use a meeting room at a local parish.
Cablevision should fire Tara Rosenblum and everyone at News 12 who was involved in this poorly conceived and even more poorly executed travesty of an “investigative” report.