During the height of the Yvonne Rosales controversy there was the notable absence of Rosales in the news media outlets. Rosales refused to respond to news media requests for comments. After trying “to stay out of the public eye for months,” Rosales was ordered to go to court during the latter part of November 2022. Nonetheless, for the most part, Rosales was silent about the controversies surrounding her.
On July 1, 2022, Rosales and her office were accused of “mishandling” the state case of Patrick Crusius, the Walmart murderer. Rosales was accused of “impersonating the family members of one of the shooting victims,” according to a report filed in court by Justin Underwood who had been appointed by Judge Sam Medrano to investigate Rosales.
Rosales’ refusal to publicly comment on the controversy included failing to appear in court to defend herself in a case seeking her removal from office. Rosales resigned on December 15.
Throughout the controversy, Rosales’ apparent refusal to go on the record to explain herself left most of her controversy one-sided. It was assumed by us and other news outlets that Rosales was refusing to comment to the news media, and for the most part this was true. The last known interview of Rosales was with Estephania Seyffert on December 17, 2021 at KFOX. The interview centered on Rosales seeking the death penalty against Ivan Gabaldon in the murder of Juan Garcia Flores. After Rosales told the court she was seeking the death penalty, Gabaldon’s lawyers argued that Rosales was being “vindictive” by her filing for a death penalty case. Judge Alyssa Perez agreed with the defense, writing that there is “sufficient evidence that the reindictment and decision to seek the death penalty was an unjustifiable penalty resulting solely from Mr. Gabaldon exercising his right to go to trial.” Perez dismissed the case.
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Although Rosales appealed the dismissal, the Texas Eighth District Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal on February 7, 2023, in essence agreeing with Perez. After the KFOX interview in 2021, Rosales largely avoided the news media.
However, recently we were told that Yvonne Rosales sat down with a reporter during the height of the controversy to do a one-to-one interview. According to a source with first-hand knowledge of the event who agreed to speak to us on the condition of anonymity, the one-to-one interview occurred at about the time “Rosales was being pressured to resign.” Although the one-to-on interview with Rosales included “blunt questions” about the controversies she was facing, the interview never aired on KTSM. No one in Rosales’ office seemed to know why the interview never aired, according to our source. We talked to the reporter who recorded the interview.
David Candelaria Calls District Attorney An “Idiot”
Rubén Olague, who was recently fired from KTSM for complaining about a convicted sexual offender working at the station, agreed to discuss with us how the news media in El Paso manages how news is presented to news consumers in the community. Olague has years of experience in the news industry.
Rosales agreed to do a one-to-one interview with Olague just before Rosales began to be “pressured to resign,” our unnamed source with first-hand knowledge told us in a telephone interview. Rosales had agreed to the interview to address the allegations surrounding her. She also agreed to answer “blunt questions” from Olague. When the in-depth interview was completed, Olague took the footage to KTSM to prepare it for airing in an upcoming newscast.
Rubén Olague, who convinced Rosales to sit down with him for the interview, told us that Chris Babcock, the news director at KTSM, reviewed Olague’s raw footage of the Rosales interview and said that the footage could not be aired.
Olague explained that raw footage is different from what is aired during a newscast. Raw footage contains recorded parts that seldom make it on air. For example, there might be a greeting between the reporter and the subject of the interview, or a discussion about the topics to be covered. There may also be personal conversations that are not intended for air. Nonetheless, raw footage does not usually get published.
Olague was criticized by Babcock for “being in cahoots” with Yvonne Rosales after hearing Olague on the raw footage tell Rosales that she was not receiving “equal time.” That comment was not intended to be aired as it was editorializing, which does not belong in a news report.
Although it was not intended to be aired, and the interview, had it aired, would have been Rosales in her own words at the height of the controversy surrounding her, David Candelaria, KTSM’s General Manager, called Rosales an “idiot” and also refused to air the interview. Olague had reached out to Candelaria seeking his support to publish the footage.
Rosales’ side of the events that lead to her resignation from office have not been published and Rosales has refused to discuss them with the news media. Although it is indisputable that some of the raw footage that Olague recorded contained editorialized material, the fact remains that the interview of Rosales during the height of her controversy would have provided much needed context to the controversies surrounding her. Context that would have been in her words.
According to Olague, KTSM chose not to air the interview not because it was not newsworthy, but because the news director, Chris Babcock felt that Olague was “in cahoots” with Rosales and because KTSM’s General Manager, David Candelaria, thought that Rosales was an “idiot”.
We asked both Babcock and Candelaria for a comment via email on Tuesday. Although both promptly responded to our request for comment about the controversy over a sexual offender working at the station, as of this morning, we have not heard back from them. Should they respond to our request for comment later, we will update this article.
KTSM News Bias
Although media bias has been making headlines in recent years, wrapped under the moniker of “fake news,” the media has been blamed by politicians for decades. Spiro Agnew, who resigned the vice-presidency on October 10, 1973, during the Richard Nixon controversy, said that the news media is “a little group of men…who wield a free hand in selecting, presenting and interpreting the great issues of our Nation.” [see: “Information Or Opinion? Media Bias As Product Differentiation, Bharat Anand, et al., 2007, Blackwell Publishing] Although labeled as “fake news” today, the issue of bias in the news has been a part of the debate across America for decades.
Because the news is the source of the information most individuals use to understand how events impact them, any bias that drives what news is allowed on air has the potential to frame controversies in one direction over another. Bias in the news media does not allow news consumers to understand why, or how controversies are happening.
From David Candelaria’s comment that Rosales is an “idiot,” according to Olague, Candelaria, KTSM’s General Manager, has a bias against Rosales. Candelaria’s and Babcock’s failure to explain why they killed the interview of Rosales at a time when El Paso voters needed a clearer understanding of the controversy suggests that not airing the interview was driven by a bias against the subject of an important news interview. It seems that KTSM’s officials decided what was important to air based on the dislike of the subject, rather than what is newsworthy for their consumers.
In upcoming articles, we will explore further how the local news outlets decide what is newsworthy and what is not for El Paso’s news consumers. Stay tuned.