KTBS Crime Reporter Chris Redford Also Fired for Defending Himself Online

Crime reporter Chris Redford was also fired from KTBS-TV on the same day as meteorologist Rhonda Lee. (Photo:  …A second KTBS-TV employee was fired the same day as meteorologist Rhonda Lee. But while the TV station says that, like Lee, longtime crime reporter Chris Redford lost his job for violating the station's social media policy, one source with ties to the station tells Yahoo! Shine that Redford was fired without warning for responding to a personal attack on his own Facebook page.

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"He is an openly homosexual man that denounced gay slurs left on same KTBS site," the source, who requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation, wrote in an email to Yahoo! Shine. "The only difference is he did not write on the KTBS Facebook page, he responded on his own PERSONAL FB page and was given NO prior warning."

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Redford, whose twin brother is a New York City police officer, was defending a straight coworker who was being harassed online, the source wrote. KTBS station manager George Sirven told Yahoo! Shine in an email that he had no comment. 

In November, Shreveport, Louisiana police arrested a local man accused of stalking Redford. "KTBS gave emotional and financial support to white females that faced problems with stalking, but directed Chris Redford to ignore the public humiliation this man put him through," the source told Yahoo! Shine.

KTBS representatives confirmed that two employees were fired on November 28. "We can confirm that Rhonda Lee was one of the employees," station representatives said in a statement. "Another employee was a white male reporter who was an eight year veteran of the station. The policy they violated provided a specific procedure for responding to viewer comments on the official KTBS Facebook page." The Shreveport Times has confirmed that the other employee was Redford.

Lee has repeatedly said that the policy in question was never written down, but was merely mentioned in a meeting sometime in September or October—one that she did not attend. "So when I asked what rule did I break, there isn't anything to point to," she told the Maynard Institute's Journal-isms" blog earlier this week.

In response, KTBS posted on Facebook an edited email that was sent to employees on August 30, urging them not to respond to viewers directly and to instead direct comments to a representative of the station. The email, which was written by a marketing manager at the station, also states that it is "some guidance" and "a starting point" for the company's best-practice policy; it does not state that it is the policy itself.

Other KTBS employees have been allowed to reply to viewers without losing their jobs. (Photo: Facebook)KTBS viewers were quick to point out that the station is now doing the same thing that it fired Lee and Redford for doing: defending themselves on social media. Other employees—including morning show anchor and health reporter Chrissi Coile Reesby—have been allowed to reply to viewers on Facebook without repercussions. Others continued to reprimand the station on its Facebook page.

"The way I see it, you, KTBS, failed to protect her by not deleting this post and warning the sender that personal attacks against its staff will not be tolerated," Brad Smith wrote on Facebook. "It's the same principal as the new 'zero tolerance' policies for bullying now being implement in full-force at schools across the nation. Your employee should not have been put in a position like this to where she felt she had to defend herself against such harmful and damaging comments as this. Instead, your station decided to terminate her for doing the job that you failed to do."

Lee, who had worked at KTBS for 11 months, says that she waited several days for her managers to respond before addressing the racist comments on Facebook herself. "I was the one who brought it to their attention after they let it fester on the page for 6 days, but was then chastised for responding at all," Lee told the Maynard Institute's Journal-isms blog earlier this week. "I sent a screen grab to my boss via e-mail telling them that I'm ok with the anti-Rhonda commentary sometimes, but what has been posted at the time was . . . racist, and I asked them to please support me in removing the ones that didn't encourage thoughtful, respectful and civil discourse on our FB page. I never got a reply, only punished."

The posts to which Lee responded—both of which were live on Facebook as recently as December 13—have been taken down, but not before KTBS "liked" the one criticizing Lee's hair. Yahoo! Shine's calls to KTBS station manager George Sirven were not immediately returned.