Media-public affairs dustup was a relatively minor affair on a night with major news—but it reflects serious issues
By Greg Lacour
In the middle of an exceptionally tense night in an exceptionally tense week, a prominent local television anchor and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s lead spokesman got into a Twitter spat. Morgan Fogarty of WCCB, piggybacking on an exchange among her, another TV reporter, and CMPD’s official account, objected to what the reporters saw as the CMPD Public Affairs Office’s limitations on access to frontline officers. “Let’s see a pattern of access and transparency, not one-offs here and there,” Fogarty tweeted, followed by another three minutes later: “Add: When it suits for PR”.
The department spokesman, Rob Tufano—a former New York City police officer who’s worked at CMPD since 2009—shot back five minutes later on the department’s official Twitter account, @CMPD: “Get right on it @MorganFogarty after our officers are through keeping your community and colleagues safe.”
The attitude didn’t go over especially well.
“How about you get it right,” replied Lesa Kastanas, a restaurant owner and community leader in Plaza Midwood. “Your social media Director is ineffective and incompetent@CMPD.” An even stronger response came from N.C. Senator Jeff Jackson of Charlotte, who wrote, “I need the person who runs this Twitter account for @CMPD to DM me immediately.”
At about the same time, CMPD officers were engaged in an apparent “kettling” and tear-gassing of a group of protesters near East Fourth and South College streets uptown. The alt-weekly Queen City Nerve captured the confrontation on video, which has led to a State Bureau of Investigation probe and, on Wednesday, a contentious “listening session” between city officials and residents outside the Government Center.
Compared to the consequences of officers’ actions during the protest, and the continuing demonstrations that have followed George Floyd’s death at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, a Twitter dustup between a media member and a police PR representative is a minor issue. But public affairs is exactly that, and it’s not the same for a law enforcement agency as for a department store brand or tech startup. Over the past week, reporters around the country have documented unusually aggressive, even confrontational, police behavior toward members of the media, and messages from law enforcement agencies matter especially during public demonstrations, when they can immediately inform interactions between officers and the public in the streets. Everyone has a smartphone these days, and they’re checking Twitter for the latest.
I reached out to the CMPD Public Affairs Office Thursday with that in mind and, not knowing at the time whether Tufano or another member of the office had sent the tweet, to ask if the person would be disciplined.
Tufano called me and said, clearly: No.
“That was me, absolutely,” he told me. “There’s nothing to discipline. We stand by every syllable … We are proud, damn proud, of the responses we’ve made to the media. We just find it a little rich that (Fogarty) would suggest we’re inaccessible given all that we’ve done. We’ve moved mountains.”
Fogarty told me by phone Thursday afternoon that she didn’t know it was Tufano who’d sent the tweet on CMPD’s behalf, but she’d guessed. “That doesn’t surprise me, just knowing Rob,” she told me. “Anyone who knows him or has worked with him knows he’s not a man to mince words.” She said she and Tufano had spoken since Tuesday—she’s accepted his offer to appear as a guest on the next episode of the CMPD Podcast—and chalks the episode up to “the high emotions right now running throughout the country,” she told me, adding that she and Tufano have a good professional relationship. “Relations between reporters and the police should not be cozy, quite frankly.”
As for Jackson, both he and Tufano confirmed Thursday that they haven’t communicated since Tuesday. Via email, Jackson told me he sent this to the CMPD account in a direct message: “As someone who relies on your Twitter account for information on a regular basis, your engagement with Ms. Fogarty was a serious problem. I don’t want to escalate it from here, but if we don’t fix this then your Twitter account is going to become a news story that will reflect poorly on CMPD and will distract from your mission.”
Jackson added, to me: “I encouraged him to delete the tweet. I received no response.” It remains active.
Morgan is a total hack supporting a bizarre liberal agenda that perpetuates a dysfunctional city county government. The only saving grace is that WCCB is barely on the radar truly living in the rating basement.
Jackson is fleck of a Politician just looking for media attention.
Agreed.... She is just another ditzy blonde but I would like a round with her. That's really the only reason people watch that station. Eye candy sells...
Morgan should go back to working for Al-Jazeera.... (fun fact for you there). Most people don't know that.
What do you call a Blonde with two brain cells? Pregnant.
Does IA treat black officers the same as white officers?
6:41. I know who you can ask... his name is Cecil.
Morgan, please just stay in the kitchen.
Morgan’s stent with Al-jezerra says a lot about per political leanings. I lost all respect for her then and frankly quit watching her station when the selfish demands of the police were made. That tweet exchange caused me to drop them then. I encourage everyone to do the same. That is the only way to met them know the media really is not a special class. Stop watching their broadcasts and encourage others to do the same.
It is July 4th weekend. How many officers called in sick for protest? I'm going to guess zero since there was nothing in the media about it. I have respect for Atlanta. They have homicide detectives answering 911 calls.
CMPD will always be CMPD.
Ppl aren’t gonna call in sick and miss out on the off dooty money. At the end of the day the only color that matters is green.
That’s what I’ve been saying for years. Ain’t no “brotherhood” or family here. Whenever there is a call to show solidarity there will be none unless it benefits the individual officer. I know this ain’t the NYPD but at least up there we all stick together & there isn’t any snitching. We tell IAB to go pound sand.
Rob Tufano is a lying little asshole. And suckup. What did anyone expect him to say that was different than his arrogant comments? Of course they only "do press" when it is potentially beneficial for them. Duh.
Anyone want to Deploy to Chicago for a month? Combat pay added.
My Brother, I completely agree with you. As long as this department has garbage like Brian Smith and debt beats like the steak stealer, we are screwed. This was a chance to make a statement to city council and it never even happened. That is why we never get significant raises. If the RNC actually came, we would stand in rank file and get pissed on. No strike or protest here.
I’m out the loop. Who is Brian Smith and what’d he do?
What is it with these NYPD guys coming down South and talking about how to PoPo in Charlotte. The next question is why would you leave NYPD if it was so great? Oh wait, 1 Billion dollars defunded, yes 1 Billion with a lot zeros. Yeah those guys stuck together and showed the Mayor who was in charged.
Tufano reminds me of that asshole Yankee all of us have living next to us nowadays. The one who argues the Jets and Mets are awesome, and don't dare deny it or he will whip your ass. Please find Cary as an alternative place to live down here. And we know he's been known to troll here. A classic Twitter tough guy who obviously got put in his place a couple too many times growing up, so he carries that chip on his shoulder forever.
10:52. Hey douchebag. I’m retired. I’m just saying you guys suck when it comes to backing each other up administratively. I live down the block from a current officer and I hear all the stories. Half of you wouldn’t last 2 weeks in an NYPD precinct. What I hear most is the back stabbing. Substandard officers tattling on each other hoping to score brownie points with the bosses or hoping to climb that corporate ladder. If I can’t trust you to back me in the office there’s no way your gonna take a bullet for me. Glad I did my 20 and I’m out. You honestly think that pension is going to be there for you after 30 years your sadly mistaken. Just google the NCDOT budget cuts... they don’t have $$ to keep the grass cut on 85.... you think they’re gonna pay you after 30 years, keep dreaming.
You know you are a Yankee when you begin a sentence with "hey douchebag" lol. I been with CMPD for 12 years now and I do see several officers running off to supervisors to inform on others. I think that is sad. I mean if an officer is kneeling on someones neck.. yeah, I am gonna tell that but most of it is internal BS
12:18 So funny, "I hear the stories""I used to be an expert at this and that" then I move from the best place on earth. Please go back. And did 20 years, hahaha. Do 30 before knowing what your talking about.
I've worked for CMPD before. I would agree with NYPD guy. CMPD is a circus with fake cops that constantly screw the pooch. The stories are real and true. It is promotion thru attrition, and I don't really respect most of the people that I worked with. I never worked for NYPD and I'm sure you get what you are out looking for. Sure some NYPD are pussy losers and some are pure gold.
CMPD is fools gold. G4S is a better gig.
I've lived in Charlotte and NY and both are run by democrats. I am amazed at how cities run by democrats and they claim to be "pro-black" have the dumbest and worst policies for black Americans. I hate to say it but I am going to vote straight republican this next election. You can call me an Uncle Tom but I can't help but think Trump and the republicans care more about my community than the democrats do. Watch the news, these damn democrats have lost their damn minds.
Braxton did not want to talk about how the Police were needed more yesterday. Charlotte will hit the all time Homicide record or come close to it this year, 123 is a lot. That is just Homicides. Last year it was an 11% increase from the year before in all violent crime. Its like the old saying,"As long as it happens to someone else I'm good". No Police, No Justice. Or the best one, "Stop Killing Us". Words
Is “Stop Killing Us” the new “Hands Up Don’t Shoot”? How’s about stop killing, stop robbing, stop stealing, stop selling, stop using, and stop being absent from your children’s lives?
Is that not pc enough to be a good slogan?
Those are the same geniuses that say “why didn’t you just shoot him in the leg”. That’s what happens when you elect people to power as a novelty cause you need to see the black skin. I’m all for diversity but please... if the person is an absolute idiot... like Braxton, don’t be surprised when decisions are made that adversely effect the community.
Good luck with all of that shit. CLTCC may as well use the money taken from CMPD budget and just go to Hyatts and buy up more guns and ammo to distribute in the "Fragile" neighborhoods. The results are going to be the same. I'm very grateful that my family lives out of county and that our local leaders and courts know the value of law and order. That's why the Charlotte thugs dont cross the county line. They know that they will end up in "JAIL" if they step across the line and do stupid shit. Of course when you compare crime stats and demographics the results are very obvious.
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