News that the U.S. Supreme Court had thrown out a federal law called the Defense of Marriage Act that limited rights granted to gay and lesbian couples shook cities across the country Wednesday, including Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas CBS affiliate, KLAS-Channel 8
, like every other news channel in town, did a reaction piece on the decision. Reporter Sharie Harvin
's piece included comments from local gay couples and advocates, as well as sound and video from opponents of gay marriage. Harvin prominantly featured Pastor Kelcey West
of Nehemiah Ministries Christian Church
, and the reporter noted that, "Some people are extremely concerned about the direction this takes our nation" and cited God as "the ultimate judge"
of same-sex relationships.
What Harvin failed to mention is that West is her pastor and Harvin isn't just a church member, she is the public relations director for Nehemiah Ministries.
Failure to disclose that relationship "was a mistake and a lapse of judgment on her part," said KLAS News Director Ron Comings. Comings said that Harvin was assigned the story and asked to get both sides of the story, including religious opponents to gay marriage.
Comings said Harvin called 10 to 12 local churches without getting a response before turning to her own church. "I told her to get religious leaders."
Nonetheless, the conflict should have been disclosed, he said.
He said the station plans to include a disclosure on the story online.
Update: Harvin has been using her church as a primary source for some time, apparently. Not suprisingly, Nehemiah Ministries comes out looking pretty good. In this story from over a year ago, Harvin describes the church's system to combat fraud. In this one from last fall, she urges people to contribute to religious institutions, including her own church.