A TV station in Nebraska has terminated its news director and program host for her alleged "partisan politics" efforts involving signature gathering in support of turning her hometown city into a pro-life sanctuary.
In her defense, the sacked newscaster maintained that being a pro-life advocate is not partisanship, saying her termination from the station came as "a surprise."
Details of the Termination
A Catholic World Report article revealed that KNOP-TV fired Melanie Standiford when the latter embarked on a signature campaign to turn Curtis, Neb. into a 'haven for the unborn.'
The website said Standiford collected signatures from her fellow congregants at the St. John's Lutheran Church in Curtis. She also reportedly gave the petition to another church in the same town. Standiford collected 47 signatures for a November special vote to declare Curtis a "sanctuary city for the unborn."
Contrary to her station's claim of partisan politics in the abortion issue, Standiford said she has previously aired both sides in her reports.
"All the time that I covered it, I would interview those who were pro-choice, and even Planned Parenthood. My writing and storytelling was always very balanced," Standiford explained.
She said she was interviewed by a reporter from Flatwater Free Press, who pressed her about journalism ethics in line with her signature campaign.
"I told her, this is in the privacy of my church. This is something that I did, acting as a Christian, in the privacy of my church. "Then I said, 'You're probably right. Maybe I shouldn't have done that.' And that's the only quote she took from me," she told Catholic News Agency.
Standiford disclosed that a day after the reporter's piece came out, her boss at KNOP-TV told her she was being fired from the station. She said her boss gave her an envelope and told her it was her last day working for them. When she inquired why, her boss allegedly told her it was because of her "partisan politics."
Standiford revealed that she 'recorded their conversation.' She said she reasoned with her superior that she didn't think her signature campaign 'was being political in her home church, sitting in the pews.'
Answering the issue of Standiford's termination, KNOP-TV General Manager Shannon Booth told North Platte Bulletin that their news personnel are prohibited from engaging in "any political activity for any candidate, party, or ballot initiative." Booth said it is "regardless of beliefs" of the employee in question.
Nebraska Towns, Cities Push for Abortion Ban
A separate report by Flatwater Free Press disclosed that Curtis is one of six Nebraska towns wishing to ban abortion through a special ballot in November. The other towns are Paxton, Arnold, Brady, Wallace, and Hershey.
Meanwhile, several others are gathering signatures with dates of the ballot yet to be announced: David City, Bellevue, Sutherland, Kearney, Cozad, Moorefield, Gothenburg, Wellfleet, North Platte, and Maxwell.
At least three have passed an ordinance banning abortion in their jurisdictions: Stapleton, Hayes Center, and Blue Hill.