Savini Chickens Out?
A CBS "investigative reporter," whose hit piece journalism on a Chicago Police Officer generated threats of kidnapping and attacks on the officer’s family, has refused to answer questions about the substance and methods of his reporting.
Dave Savini, a CBS investigative reporter who often profiles police misconduct cases, aired a piece about Chicago Police Officer, Michelle Murphy, who was dragged underneath a car of a motorist.
The motorist was charged with attempted murder, but was convicted of reckless conduct in an incident that sent Murphy to the hospital with numerous injuries.
After repeatedly airing the piece, threats were made against Murphy on social media.
Murphy has reportedly obtained a case report in connection with the threats.
In his broadcast, Savini aired images of Murphy’s license plates from her car, information that could lead to someone finding her residence. It was a despicable violation of Murphy’s privacy and safety, particularly in light of recent attacks on police officers throughout the country. After repeated complaints, CBS blurred out the plates, but not before the story ran for several weeks.
In the meantime, Savini has refused numerous requests for interviews by Crooked City about his coverage of this case and others going to back to early days of his career in Chicago, cases that have reemerged in several key legal proceedings.
In the meantime, more evidence of Savini’s extreme bias has emerged. Consider, for example, Savini’s knee-jerk publishing of complaints against Officer Murphy in his stories, as if these complaints are signs that she is crooked cop.
Savini didn’t mention that only one complaint against Murphy, who has worked the toughest assignments in the busiest, more gang-ridden neighborhoods in the city, has been sustained. Just one.
Savini also ignores the context of these complaints, the fact that frivolous complaints by individuals angry at being arrested are endemic. Gang members are often willing to file complaints against cops because they know that they will not be punished for making a false allegation. They also know there are so many journalists in Chicago like Savini who will publish these allegations in “hit” pieces on officers, even when the accusations are not sustained.
Can Savini, or any other journalist in the city, find one instance in which the agency that oversees police misconduct, the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), ever took legal actions against anyone for filing a false complaint against the police?
Which brings us to another glaring sign of Savini’s bias. Though Savini seems to gleefully cover the misconduct allegations against Murphy, he ignores the long list of awards she has won as a police officer.
Murphy has received 61 Honorable Mentions, one Life Saving Award, one Department Commendation, one Joint Operations Award, Three Complimentary Letters, one NATO Service Award, and several other awards. That is more than three awards or commendations a year.
By any measure of journalism integrity, these statistics would be included in a story citing complaints against the officer.
But Savini just ignored them.
The intrepid crusader for truth also ignores the mounting evidence of suspicious reporting in his own career, reporting that—big surprise—attacked the criminal justice system. A seminal case Savini worked on that led to the exoneration of four men for a vicious crime has generated renewed scrutiny of corruption in the wrongful conviction movement.
In an article for the American Journalism Review, Savini, then a reporter for WMAQ, boasted of his work with former Northwestern Professor David Protess and Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn in the infamous Ford Heights Four Case, a case in which four men were exonerated for the rape and murder of a woman and the murder of her fiancé.
The case has generated renewed scrutiny because it is cited in a $40 million lawsuit against Northwestern, Protess, and his private investigator Paul Ciolino. In this lawsuit, attorneys for a man named Alstory Simon claim their client was coerced in 1999 into confessing to a 1982 double murder he did not commit as part of what the lawyers claim was a scam by Protess at Northwestern to exonerate the real killer, Anthony Porter. The exoneration of Porter led to the moratorium of the death penalty, a long-coveted goal of the wrongful conviction movement.
Here’s what Savini said about the case:
Protess was the spark, says Dave Savini, a WMAQ investigative reporter who covered the [Ford Heights Four] story. People like us and Eric Zorn kept the flame burning by doing our jobs," says Savini. "That created a sense of public pressure, and the guys eventually got out [of prison].”
One particularly troubling accusation cited in the lawsuit against Protess and Northwestern centers on a key witness in the Ford Heights Four case, Charles McCraney, who never deviated from his claim that the offenders originally convicted of the murders were guilty.
According to Simon’s attorneys, McCraney made accusations that Protess attempted to bribe McCraney into changing his statements, even offering sex with one of the Northwestern students if he would change his story, according to the lawsuit by Simon’s lawyers.
For some reason, McCraney’s troubling accusations never found their way into Savini’s reporting, just as Murphy’s long record of awards and praise never found their way into his story about allegations of misconduct against her.
In the meantime, a host of other allegations against Protess and Northwestern have come to light, so many that Protess was eventually fired from his position at the university, at which time the school issued a statement that Protess had lied about his investigations. Apparently, in all the years Protess was getting widespread coverage in Chicago’s media, including coverage from Savini, evidence of such wrongdoing never surfaced.
For some reason, Savini obviously doesn’t feel a need to take a second look at those “flames” he kept burning from Protess and the “public pressure” he created. There is no sign that Savini is waiting outside Protess’ home with his camera crew attempting to have Protess explain his conduct at Northwestern. There is no sign Savini is following Northwestern University officials, either, insisting that they comment on the misconduct allegations against Protess.
As it is, the unfolding evidence of misconduct against Protess at Northwestern begs a terrifying question: How many wrongful conviction cases are wrong? How many killers have been set free on the public by corruption within the wrongful conviction movement, and what role did journalists play in it?
Rest assured that Dave Savini will not be the reporter to ask these questions. Apparently, he’s a little preoccupied with a case in which a patrol officer was dragged under a vehicle and almost killed to be bothered reviewing exonerations of vicious killers.
The fact that Savini will not even respond to requests for an interview about this case and his working with Protess, as well as his biased coverage of Murphy speaks volumes: Savini can dish it out, but he sure can’t take it.
The corruption within Chicago’s activist media is slowly coming out, and the early signs are that it is as crooked as any allegation made against the Chicago Police.