Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

KGW gets road rage story wrong…again

Posted by on April 10th, 2009 at 12:10 pm

A story published online by KGW yesterday contains incorrect information about the SE Clinton Road Rage case that are leading some Portlanders to get the wrong idea about what happened.

These inaccuracies — one of which they are making again, even after they changed it when I brought it to their attention in 2007 — are unfortunately stoking the bike/car divide that erupts whenever a case like this gets in the news.

Story continues below


In their story published yesterday, KGW states that: “A second bicyclist, Tim Mastne, unintentionally pedaled into the path of the collision.” Johnny Eschweiler intentionally ran down Ben Ramsdell. After doing so, Escwheiler’s car then continued on, sideswiping a car and a truck and then hitting Mastne.

Tim Mastne most certainly did not pedal into the path of Mr. Eschweiler’s car.

KGW then reports that. “Investigators said Ramsdell kicked Eschweiler’s SUV.” That statement is entirely untrue and its the second time KGW has gotten it wrong. The first time, in August 2007, they corrected it after it was brought to their attention.

Ramsdell did not kick Eschweiler’s car. Police investigators reported that it was Eschweiler (hardly an objective, or as we now know, sane witness) who made this claim, not themselves.

This may seem like I am nitpicking, but these kind of mis-statements by a news outlet have an impact on how people think about what happened.

Is it any wonder that the story elicits a comment like this one?:

“Well, when you kick somebody’s car, they’re gonna run you down. The biker got what they deserved Hahahaha”

I hope KGW will consider issuing a correction to their story.

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  • metal cowboy April 10, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    The commenter you showed as an example is exactly why this is not nitpicking – It’s sloppy journalism at best and meanspirited inflaming at worst. They make good money to report the news. They should attempt to get it right.

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  • Faux Porteur April 10, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    I noticed that whoever wrote the online article failed to properly quote Ben Ramsdell from their own online video. I didn’t pass senior year highschool english, can I get a job at KGW?

    Was there a separate trial for Eschweiler’s intentional striking of the other two motor vehicles? What were the repercussions of that? I bet they would be more severe.

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  • jonno April 10, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    KGW has the most-barely-literate, reactionary, infantile commenters of any local site I use regularly. It’s like a train wreck of idiocy over there and I just can’t look away. The comments flagrantly abuse the rules with little or no moderation, but it gets me to view the page so I suppose it’s working in some twisted way…

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  • Loren April 10, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    I say we all get together and go ask KGW what the hell their problem is. Except they’d fold immediately and stroke us all with a weak copy of prepared blanket apology.

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  • Tom April 10, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    This begs the question, does Eschweiler still have drivers license? And why did he have a license in the first place if he is insane?

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  • K'Tesh April 10, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    KGW’s ability to get the story right without inflaming drivers seems to be very much in question… They consistantly get things wrong.

    Perhaps a bunch of cyclists demonstrating outside of their new “Studio on the Square” during their live brodcasts might be able to get the facts out.

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  • Quincy April 10, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    I just finished reading all the comments left on the KGW story. All I can say is if they are anywhere near an accurate sampling of viewpoints in this, the cycling capitol of the US, then God help us all.

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  • Dave April 10, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    KGW’s ability to report anything accurately has been pretty pathetic lately. They claimed the other day that WES ridership was down to 25 round trips per day – which is so obviously, pathetically, wrong that you have to begin to think they’re doing this crap on purpose and banking on nobody calling them on it.

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  • jonno April 10, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    If you really want a reason to despair for the human race, check out the comments on any KGW crime article where the perp has a hispanic-sounding last name. It’s like a direct channel to the darkest recesses of Glenn Beck’s mind.

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  • OnTheRoad April 10, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Apparently the same thing happens to KGW reporters as happens to the public-at-large.

    The story’s first airing is what sticks in the public psyche. No matter how many clarifications or corrections are issued, the initial “facts” are what people remember.

    All too often, getting the story posted on the web seemingly outweighs the need to ascertain and verify the facts of the story.

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  • MikeOnBike April 10, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    +1 metal cowboy

    Definitely not nitpicking.

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  • El Biciclero April 10, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Accurate facts are boring.

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  • Aaron Weiss April 10, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    kgw.com editor Frank Mungeam just talked to Jonathan and got the story is now fixed. Metal Cowboy is absolutely correct that it’s not nitpicking — it’s an error that certainly shouldn’t have happened a second time and I’m glad Jonathan stays on our case.

    Dave: As for the 25 round trips per day on WES, that’s based on TriMet’s ridership numbers. TriMet reported 1,100 trips in the month of March. WES ran for 22 days in March.

    1,100 trips / 22 days = 50 one-way trips per day.
    50 one-way trips = 25 round trip passengers a day.

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  • Kt April 10, 2009 at 2:15 pm


    KGW has posted this note at the bottom of their news report for this story:

    “Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that investigators said Ramsdell kicked Eschweiller’s SUV. The earlier report also incorrectly implied Tim Mastne pedaled into Eschweiller’s SUV. ”

    Just FYI.

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  • Kt April 10, 2009 at 2:19 pm


    The KGW article that I just read is nothing like what J.Maus has reported here.

    J, you must have really scared them into reporting actual facts! 🙂 I appreciate it, it’s quite refreshing!

    (I did read the original one yesterday– and this afternoon’s version is quite different.)

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  • Dave April 10, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Most recent ridership numbers on their website are for February, with 6250 trips total, or 1250 peak hour trips *per day*. So you’re seriously telling me in one month their ridership fell 90%? I’m gonna go with occam’s razor and say somebody at KGW failed basic reading comprehension.

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  • Dave April 10, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Excuse me – 6250 trips total *per week*.

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  • MikeOnBike April 10, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    If you have to call them with corrections doesn’t that make you the editor?

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  • Aaron April 10, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I agree with Metal Cowboy and MikeOnBike’s comments. Jonathan you should be put on KGW’s payroll if you have to correct they’re stories.
    Though their bias is obvious in that the advertiser on the top of their site is cars.com

    If anyone wants to demonstrate outside their offices, I’m happy to join in.

    And: surgeons had previously removed a piece of Eschweiler’s brain. Proving once again that:
    “I’d rather have a [water] bottle in front of me, than have to have a frontolobotomy.”

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  • steve April 10, 2009 at 4:00 pm
  • John Lascurettes April 10, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    @Aron and@Dave:

    Indeed KGW is mistaken again.

    March Ridership Report says: Weekly WES trips totaled 5,700.

    5700 ÷ 7 = 814 trips per day.
    814 ÷ 2 = 407 round trips per day.

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  • John Lascurettes April 10, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Postscript to my post: and if you use workday number (divide the week by 5 not 7), the round trips per day go up even more to 570!

    C’mon KGW, get with it!

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  • Aaron Weiss April 10, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Thanks, John. The 1,100 number from earlier in the week came to our reporter direct from Mary Fetsch at TriMet. I’ll give her a call and track down where the discrepancy came from.

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  • John Lascurettes April 10, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Aaron, the 5700 per week number divided by 5 equals 1140. I think the number originally used was an approximate daily total.

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  • Dave April 10, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    And if the reporter had done five minutes of research into such an extraordinary claim, they would have realized something was wrong with their data. But instead of acting like journalists, they played the part of suburban demogogue. As per usual.

    Not that it’s anything new. What really disturbs me is that we now have news outlets using media like twitter: just like the old news, with even less context or accountability! We’re supposed to have a public debate via a medium I wouldn’t trust to organize a happy hour outing?

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  • P Finn April 10, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    thanks Jonathan

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  • Q`ztal April 11, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Do any of our local TV news or newspapers actually have a record of accuracy?

    Are the large scale news organizations in such a rush to beat bloggers to the punch that they feel the need to post anything as long as they can’t be sued for libel?

    Once upon a time people could trust the large news organizations to take some pride in their work. In the changing news economy that is pricing newspapers out of business they seem to be willing to sell their trustworthiness for page hits.

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  • Loren April 11, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Nevermind the news, I’m still fuming that this guy had a liscense to begin with.

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  • Robert Dobbs April 12, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Reporter Barbie says: “Basic literacy is hard!”

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