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In late May, D.C. Fire Department brass tried to hose down a local reporter’s Emmy nomination. Deputy Chief Kenneth Crosswhite lobbied to have a story produced by WJLA disqualified as a local Emmy nominee. The story in question was a three-month investigative piece that ran on Nov. 11. It chronicled the saga of arson investigators-turned-whistleblowers Gerald Pennington and Greg Bowyer. The two had argued that there were serious holes in how arson cases were being handled. The two had gotten demoted for saying so.
When that story got nominated for a local Emmy, Crosswhite decided to pick his fight. Show business was not impressed. Local Emmy honchos overruled Crosswhite’s efforts. And this past weekend, the WJLA piece—-by veteran newsman Jay Korff—-won an Emmy in the investigative category.
Surely this will go down as a devastating blow to Fire Department brass. City Desk reached Crosswhite this afternoon for a response. He tried to be gracious in defeat.
“I want congratulate him that he won the Emmy,” Crosswhite says of WJLA’s Korff. “I wish him luck. But I still believe deep down that the story was not fair and accurate. Those guys have shopped those stories around to the other news agencies….I wish Jay well.”
Korff says that he stands behind the his three-month investigative piece. “We just went where the facts took us,” he says. “We were interested in nothing else other than making sure that our story was fair and balanced.”
Crosswhite insists Korff did not have all the facts. “I just feel that being such a prestigious award, it should be awarded correctly,” he explains, adding that not all the facts are out because Bowyer and Pennington face disciplinary hearings.
When informed by City Desk that the charges against Pennington were dropped last week, Crosswhite admitted he hadn’t heard about that fact. “I don’t know anything about that one,” the deputy chief replied.