Monday, June 18, 2018

FOX news stations in Oklahoma City & Cleveland aired stories that might seriously injure babies -- one fixed the problem; the other doubled down

How should a mainstream news organization respond after being made aware that a published story contains bad information that may seriously injure babies?

In somewhat identical situations, here's how FOX TV News affiliates in Oklahoma City and Cleveland responded.

One deserves to take a bow.

The other deserves to get sued.


On June 13, FOX25 News in Oklahoma City aired How to help someone who's choking by staff reporter Jordann Lucero.

Here's a screenshot from her story with my highlighting:

Via that part of her story, here's an interview with a member of the Oklahoma City Fire Department:

Here's the problem.

No legitimate medical organization or medical expert recommends performing stomach thrusts (aka abdominal thrusts aka the Heimlich maneuver) on babies.

 As I've reported, executives at the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Red Cross (ARC) wrote me that the treatment "may cause injuries" to babies.

(To my knowledge, the only organization that recommends and teaches the treatment is Cincinnati's Heimlich Heroes program, a dubious operation whose charter is to promote my dad's "legacy.")


After spotting Ms. Lucero's report I e-mailed AHA and ARC guidelines to Oklahoma City Battalion Chief and Public Relations Officer Benny Fulkerson.

A few hours later I received his reply:
Mr. Heimlich,

Sir, we just want to thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. After review, it has been determined that you are absolutely correct. The treatment demonstrated in the video was not in accordance with the AHA [American Heart Association] standard which we operate under. Please know that we feel terrible that this occurred, and we are working with Fox 25 to correct this information for their viewers. As a public safety organization, we take extremely seriously our role as an authority about all things related to fire and life safety. We do have amazing personnel who work very hard every day to serve our citizens. When we make mistakes, we take every measure to correct them and learn from them.

Again, thank you so much for contacting us about this. We are eager to get this information corrected.
I then received a thank-you from FOX25 New Director Adam Pursch who informed me that the story was being re-reported.

The re-reported story got it right:

I sincerely thanked Battalion Chief Fulkerson and Mr. Pursch for their professionalism and commitment to public safety.

I can't say the same re: the following mess.

Here's a transcript at about time stamp :35 from How to save a life: Help someone who is choking by staff reporter Adrienne DiPiazza, FOX8 News Cleveland, February 13, 2018:
DiPiazza: (The Akron Fire Department's Lt. Joe) Shumaker says don’t be afraid of hurting the baby, and forceful motions are the only thing that will help them breathe again.

Shumaker: “Can you cause some injury? Can you break a bone? Can you crack a rib? Perhaps, but in the end run the child will be breathing which is what we want as a result,” he said.
Who'd be irresponsible enough to stand behind the recommendation that first responders shouldn't worry about breaking a baby's bones?

Among others: Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan, Fire Chief Clarence Tucker, and FOX8 News Director Andy Fishman.

Akron, OH, Mayor Daniel Horrigan & Fire Chief Clarence Tucker (source)

Last February I sent all of them the same information I sent last week to the responsible parties in Oklahoma City

However, rather than fixing the error in order to protect babies from potential injury or worse, they all backed up Lt. Shumaker who, in fact, is certified according to AHA standards:

Here's the grammatically-challenged reply I received from Mr. Fishman at FOX8 which more or less corresponds to the replies I received from the offices of the mayor and the fire department:
From: Fishman, Andy <>
To: Peter M. Heimlich <>
Subject: Re: blogger inquiry
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2018 14:00:09 +0000

As highly trained first responders, we [sic] trust and stand by the information provided to us by the Akron Fire Department.

Best Andy
I then asked him for the name and e-mail address of his station's general manager to which he responded:
From: Andy Fishman <>
To: Peter M. Heimlich <>
Subject: Re: blogger inquiry
Date: Sun, 18 Feb 2018 14:29:54 +0000


We consider this matter closed

Best Andy
Per the item you're reading, I don't.

After I asked FOX8 Cleveland News Director Andy Fishman to put me in touch with his boss, he Twitter-blocked me