A school board member in South Dakota is calling on Fox News to apologize because he says an erroneous report led to threats that officials be “lined up and shot” over the Pledge of Allegiance.
Sioux Falls School Board member Kent Alberty told KSFY that Fox News picked up the story after a local television station reported that the board had defied a group of veterans and dropped the pledge at high schools.
“A school board there has decided there’s just no time in the day to recite the Pledge of Allegiance despite a desperate request from a local vets group to keep the pledge,” Fox News host Megyn Kelly told viewers on Nov. 14.
“The veterans, by the way, say they are not giving up,” reporter Trace Gallagher noted. “They say they will continue fighting to see if they can get the pledge reinstated.”
In fact, the board had sided with the veterans and voted unanimously to expand the use of the pledge for middle school students, elementary school students and at high school assemblies.
But because of the way Kelly and Gallagher framed their reporting, Alberty said that it left the mistaken impression that the board was against the pledge.
Sioux Fall high school students had not been required to say the pledge since 1970, and Alberty wants an apology from Fox News for suggesting that it had been dropped.
“It wasn’t dropped. That wasn’t true at all,” Alberty said. “And that is what people were reacting to was the headline – not what we actually did. And then Fox picked that story up — and again — it was the headline they used, not the actual facts of what we did at the School Board meeting.”
“The person that they gave the byline to wasn’t at the School Board meeting, didn’t interview any members of the School Board, didn’t interview the person who spoke to the School Board, but then they ran this story and didn’t have in the story the fact that we actually expanded the policy,” he added.
After receiving a number of threatening emails and phone calls, board members reported the threats to the Sioux Falls Police Department. All personal information about the members has been removed from the School Board website.
“The one that I guess got my attention the most was that this person feels that all five of us should be lined up and shot,” he recalled.
As for an apology from Fox News, Alberty isn’t holding his breath: “When something is misreported, misrepresented, an incendiary headline that really doesn’t base anything on facts of the story, I would think that would be appropriate. But I’m certainly not expecting it anytime”
On Thursday, Gallagher defended his reporting and insisted that Alberty’s version of events were not accurate.
“I was the first to do the story on Fox and I said, despite a group of military veterans showing up at the board meeting and pleading for the pledge to be read, that the board voted unanimously not to require high school students to recite the pledge because they could not find the extra 10 seconds in the school day,” Gallagher recalled.
Watch this video from KSFY, broadcast Nov. 20, 2013.
Watch this video from Fox News, broadcast Nov. 21, 2013.