WCCO Duck Dog: Station finally breaks silence on botched report

Categories: Media beefs
james_schugel1.jpg
James Schugel may be in the dog house, but WCCO is leaping to his defense.
After issuing dozens of "no comments" to City Pages, WCCO-TV has finally broken its silence on the controversial Duck/Dog story -- which aired October 31 -- with a memo from management.

David Brauer at MinnPost has the memo from News Director Mike Caputa, who admits the station got it wrong when it thought a man at a Chinatown meat market said he sold "dog" when really he said "duck."

The memo also maintains that I-Team reporter James Schugel, who botched the story, will not be fired.

Among other things, the memo confirms the word from our source within the newsroom that the man on the other end of the phone told WCCO that he didn't speak English, but Schugel proceeded with the interview anyway:
When we called the market, the person we spoke to said he didn't speak English, but then gave an interview in English. We asked him if the market sold dogs, and we believed he answered in the affirmative. We now believe that he said, "Duck."
The internal memo does not constitute a public apology and seems more designed to quiet complaints from within the newsroom. As for when WCCO might come clean with its viewers about the mistake, our source in the newsroom has a theory about the silence:

"I have a feeling New York is waiting till the end of the book, because we're obviously dealing with the rating period."

Here's the memo:

There seem to be some inaccurate rumors on the subject of our dog breeder investigation. I wanted to take a moment to set the record straight.

First, no one should let unfounded rumors, anonymous sources or social media comments guide his or her actions or beliefs about WCCO-TV or any of its employees.

Much of what is being said by people that are supposedly inside are absolutely false. For instance, no one is being terminated.

So that none of you are guided by misinformation, here is what we know:

  • As we reported, Minnesota Certificate of Veternary Inspection reports show the breeder, Kathy Bauck, sold nearly 1400 dogs after her USDA license to sell was terminated in August 2010.
  • Of those nearly 1400 dogs, on 12 separate occasions, over period of approximately a year, a total of 158 dogs was shipped to the address in New York, where there are two business establishments, including a market, as we reported.
  • Bauck said she put the wrong address for this location. According to her, she listed the wrong address all 12 times she sent dogs to that location. As we reported, we contacted the owner of the pet shop that Bauck said the dogs were supposed to go to, and that owner told us he hadn't done any business with Bauck for over a year.
  • We sent a news camera to both establishments in New York and found no evidence of dogs at either and reported that in our story.
  • When we called the market, the person we spoke to said he didn't speak English, but then gave an interview in English. We asked him if the market sold dogs, and we believed he answered in the affirmative. We now believe that he said, "Duck."
  • Since our report and a full two months after the last shipment of dogs, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets searched the markets for dogs and found no evidence to sustain the claim that they were being sold at that location. It is interesting to note that this same establishment was searched by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets last December, based on a similar complaint, and there was no evidence to sustain that claim.
  • Upon learning of the actions of Kathy Bauck, the USDA has permanently revoked her license to sell dogs.

In the end, we don't yet know what truly happened to the dogs except that they were shipped to the location we reported on. These are all facts that warranted a compelling and important news story. In view of this, I suggest we ignore the rumors and innuendo and keep doing the outstanding work we are known for here at WCCO-TV.

Thanks,
Michael Caputa

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14 comments
Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck ....

Carmen Devore-Blakestad
Carmen Devore-Blakestad

What I want to know is, if this was such an "Important" story, why didn't the reporter go to New York and talk to the people in person?  I mean, talking to him over the phone?!  Seriously?!?!?

No love for you WCCO cause I would've been on the plane and in the guys face wanting to know just what happened to those dogs.  I HATE people that mistreat animals!!  ( Good thing I'm not a reporter!.. Too mean!!) 

Melissa Summers
Melissa Summers

So what DID happen to the 158 dogs in those 12 shipments?

Pam
Pam

why would you ask a man that says he does not speak English if they sold dogs, when he most likely would say yes just so you can stop disturbing him? This is ridiculous, WCCO is asking for it! Apparently they've been out of the spot light for a while.

Gaz
Gaz

Okay City Pages, you've run this story into the ground enough as is. I feel that it was an honest mistake Schugel's part, but I think the flak and embarrassment have been punishment enough for him.

Kelly McNutt
Kelly McNutt

Social media matters until it's inconvenient, it seems.

Bjork
Bjork

There once was a man named JamesWho's last name was SchugelHe followed the tips to ChinaAnd asked if they sold poodle

Gus Lynch
Gus Lynch

"These are all facts that warranted a compelling and important news story."

News standards ain't what they used to be.

Albatross
Albatross

Sounds like WCCO is still playing a game of "Dog, Dog, Goose" with this story.

Bianca
Bianca

Why did it take WCCO over two weeks to FINALLY issue any "explanation"? Still sketchy.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Sent to feed starving children in Africa.

Bjork
Bjork

Shot into space.

Guy
Guy

But it's fun for CP to belittle journalists who make more money than they do. Just let them have their fun.

David Foureyes
David Foureyes

We're in Minnesota, I believe you meant "Dog, Dog, Grey Dog.".

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