Lawsuit: CBS3 Anchor Chris May Screwed Up Big Time
From the Dept. of What Could Be a Really Expensive Mistake comes this tale of a lawsuit filed against CBS Broadcasting and CBS3 news anchor Chris May, who has worked at the station since 2007.
According to a lawsuit (below) filed in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas, May went on the air on September 29th at 6 p.m. to tell viewers about a supposed sex abuse scandal at a local charter school. Here’s what the suit accuses May of saying:
…a police supervisor at a Philadelphia charter school is fired over allegations of child sexual abuse. Howard Rubin is the suspect. He is accused in the sexual abuse of an underage male student. Rubin worked at the Multi-Cultural Charter School on North Broad Street.
The station allegedly chose as an accompanying graphic a photo of Howard Rubin, emblazoned with the word “Suspect.”
Trouble is: Rubin wasn’t fired from his job and he was never accused of sexual abuse. And according to Rubin’s attorney, Derek Steenson, CBS never bothered to call Rubin for a comment.
“He got calls from Fox and Action News, and those stations in turn called me and they didn’t run the story, because the story was absolutely false,” says Steenson. “They couldn’t do the story, because they did their homework. But CBS just kind of ran with it.”
The day after the story ran, CBS3 issued a correction and apology in its evening newscasts and sent a letter to the principal of the school, who, in turn, sent a letter (see both letters below) to the parents of the school to address the “false story,” writing, “It is extremely important that students and parents understand that there is absolutely no validity to this story.”
So where in the world did the story come from? After all, CBS3 is not in the business of fabricating news stories.
The answer, according to Steenson, is most likely some unidentified person who doesn’t like Rubin very much. Steenson points to the letter the principal sent to parents, specifically the line that states that the misinformation was “reported to the news agency by an adversary of Howard Rubin.”
“It seems to point the finger at one of Mr. Rubin’s enemies,” observes Steenson. “It looks like this guy just called a bunch of news stations and spread these false rumors. We think we know who it is, but we don’t have any proof. Unfortunately, CBS didn’t bother to check it out.”
Steenson, who generally handles criminal defense matters, says that when he was first approached by Rubin, he was skeptical.
“I was hesitant at first,” he remembers. “I always try to keep an open mind. But I just figured I would do some digging and figure out that the station didn’t do anything wrong. But then I got these letters from CBS and the school and realized what really happened here. It’s mind-boggling. They just ran with completely unfounded information. Maybe it was a slow news day.”
CBS3 spokesperson Joanne Calabria was not immediately available for comment, but the station told other news organizations that it hadn’t had a chance to review the suit.
Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter