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News director's text criticism of Ch.4 reporters accidentally gets sent to staff

Remember Whinegate, which was named after Channel 7 legend Irv Weinstein accidentally sent out a critical review of the station’s news staff in 1991?

Memories resurfaced this week of that 25-year-old computer foul-up when an exchange of critical texts between Channel 4 News Director Scott Levy and Assistant News Director Kris O’Donnell accidentally was sent to the station’s news staff.

According to multiple sources, the newsrooms at Channel 4 and its rival stations were abuzz as Levy texts contained sharp and soft criticism of some staffers. The sources said Levy’s harshest criticism was reserved for reporter Dave Greber, whose work ethic was questioned when compared to other staffers in an increasingly stressful field.

It is not unusual for news directors to be critical of their staffers, but it is very unusual for those criticisms to become public.

On Thursday night, Levy gave a bland statement via text.

“The text messages between me and my assistant news director were exchanged while managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom,” wrote Levy.

This morning, Levy said the texts date back as long as six months ago. He also praised Greber, as he had in a recent interview with The Buffalo News.

“I stand by those comments when we met up a few weeks ago,” said Levy. “Dave is currently one of News4’s top reporters, and I have tremendous trust in him. He has grown since arriving at the station in 2015 and continues to be the lead reporter nightly on our newscasts.”

Meanwhile, Channel 4 anchor Don Postles is expected to be back on the air tonight after a medical issue Thursday resulted in him missing the 6 pm. newscast during a sweeps week.

On that newscast, Channel 4 sports reporter Tom Martin did a nice piece on Franklinville softball pitcher Ally Haskell, who has several no-hitters to her credit.

However, Martin misspelled and mispronounced her name. He said her name was Ally Haksell and a graphic spelled it that way.

You had to feel for Haskell. Her name was butchered in a TV story any athlete would want to remember for a lifetime. But in a way, it is even more memorable.

Cancellation time: In the new media world, actors announce the cancellations of their TV programs on Twitter before the broadcast networks get around to it. On Thursday, actors announced that ABC’s “Castle” and “Nashville,” CBS’ “CSI: Cyber,” and Fox’s “Grandfathered” and “The Grinder” all have been canceled. “Supergirl” is moving from CBS to the CW, which is owned by the same company.

In the new media world, some of them could be saved by streaming services or rival networks, but it is unlikely.

Next week, all the broadcast networks announce their new fall schedules and the new programs on them.

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