Update: Fox 31 finally admits “more steps should have been taken … to verify information.” Update at the end of the story
A debunked Denver television news story about the supposed detention and questioning of an Italian shotgun company executive as a possible terrorist is being called a hoax by another local TV station, a departure from protocol in which stations usually don’t call out the competition on the quality of their reporting.
But the problems with a Fox 31 story that were reported by The Daily Caller News Foundation on Tuesday were too great to ignore, said 9News anchor Kyle Clark before refuting Fox’s story point by point.
“It is exceedingly rare for us to fact-check the work of another media outlet in town,” Clark said during Tuesday’s evening newscast, “but there’s a report causing concern among gun rights supporters and impacting the reputation of local law enforcement and businesses.”
On Saturday, Fox 31 reported that Daniele Perazzi, described as president of the Italian shotgun manufacturer Perazzi, was brought in for questioning by Adams County sheriff’s deputies when a cabbie, concerned that Perazzi was supposedly carrying seven shotguns into a gun show, called 911.
But Perazzi died last year and the Adams County sheriff’s department said it has no record that the incident occurred.
Neither does Larry Stevenson, a former Denver police officer who runs a program called Taxis on Patrol, which encourages cab drivers to report suspicious activity. The program was cited in the Fox report as a possible reason the cab driver allegedly overreacted.
On the 9News report and on Denver talk radio station 630KHOW Wednesday morning, Stevenson said the reputation of the popular program — which has spread to other cities and to Europe — was damaged when the Fox story went viral.
“My program has been damaged by this,” he told 9News. “Taxis on Patrol, we have been across the globe since 2011. I literally have been getting calls from around the world. … This is absolutely not true, there is no proof whatsoever.”