WDIV reporter Hank Winchester’s suggestion on MSNBC that some Detroiters are delinquent on their water bills because they’d “rather spend money on cable” has drawn some vitriolic responses.
Winchester is a “shill of the establishment, a shill of the plutocracy,” declared one political activist, Egberto Willies.
Turns out, Willies also edited the original 8-minute MSNBC segment down to a version under 4 minutes, omitting video that shows Winchester defending low-income Detroiters who can’t afford to pay their bills.
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“What he removed were my repeated statements about the need to help people who simply can’t afford water,” Winchester said. “He also edited out information from my original report that aired in April. In our first story we not only called out homeowners who owed large amounts of money but also big businesses and landlords. Seeing this cleverly edited version online has been disappointing, but I can tell you we remain focused on telling this important story and making sure all sides are fairly represented. I encourage people to watch all of our previous reports.”
After the 3:40 segment made its rounds, Winchester was branded a racist, right-wing outsider bent on maligning the poor.
Winchester, one blogger said, was “Proof of Corporate paid MEDIA MEAT HEADS lying on American citizens.”
What Winchester meant to say, insisted the blogger: “LAZY NEGROES don’t want to work. They want to stay home and watch TV and not pay their bills.”
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Journalism colleagues have come to Winchester’s defense, saying he’s a fair reporter who has become an easy scapegoat for a complicated issue.
But that hasn’t stopped the attacks.
— Jay Watts III (@jaywattsiii) July 9, 2014
— JamericanQueen (@JQAbroad) July 9, 2014
— Erika Shaker (@ErikaShaker) July 9, 2014
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Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.