Two anchors in Maine tendered their official resignations live on-air last night, with the pair calling it quits in real time after a long-running dispute with higher-ups at the station.
Bangor-based ABC news anchors Cindy Michaels and Tony Consiglio resigned live on-air during the 6 PM broadcast on Tuesday after what a local news source said was a battle between the network news hosts and management over “journalistic practices” and pressure to politicize news in a way that made the pair uncomfortable.
The on-air resignations came as a shock to both co-workers and viewers of the broadcast — while the tensions Michaels and Consiglio referenced were well known, the abrupt departure handled in such a way was still unexpected at the conclusion of the 6 PM news.
The Bangor Daily News covered the anchors’ live resignations in-depth, quoting Consiglio as saying that he felt his ethics were being compromised in the position:
“I just wanted to know that I was doing the best job I could and was being honest and ethical as a journalist, and I thought there were times when I wasn’t able to do that.”
But Mike Palmer, WVII/WFVX vice president and general manager, told the paper that the turn of events wasn’t necessarily a surprise:
“ … that was unfortunate, but not unexpected … We’ll hire experienced people to fill these positions sooner rather than later.”
Michaels indicated that being secretive was necessary to carry out the pair’s plans to resign in such a fashion, and ensure they’d be able to say goodbye to viewers:
“We figured if we had tendered our resignations off the air, we would not have been allowed to say goodbye to the community on the air and that was really important for us to do that.”
She continued, describing why she and Consiglio made the unusual choice to resign live on television:
“There was a constant disrespecting and belittling of staff and we both felt there was a lack of knowledge from ownership and upper management in running a newsroom to the extent that I was not allowed to structure and direct them professionally … I couldn’t do everything I wanted to as a news director. There was a regular undoing of decisions.”
The experienced anchor added:
“It’s a culmination of ongoing occurrences that took place the last several years and basically involved upper management practices that we both strongly disagreed with … It’s a little complicated, but we were expected to do somewhat unbalanced news, politically, in general.”
Neither specified the nature of the bias they allege they were pressured to adopt — but Michaels says the decision made with Consiglio was not an easy one and that both will miss their jobs:
“Broadcasting is a love for both of us … We definitely will miss not being able to come into folks’ living rooms and I hope there’s no hard feelings from the community for this decision we’ve made, but we felt we had to do it.”
You can watch the clip of Michaels and Consiglio quitting on TV below: