Last week, a former Fox News affiliate employee went to the doors of NewsCorp’s main headquarters in New York and proceeded to shoot and kill himself. A police spokesperson said that Phillip Perea, who was 41 years old, of Irving, Texas, shot himself once in the chest outside of 1211 Avenue of the Americas.
Perea had previously worked for KTBC-TV, a Fox News affiliate in Austin, Texas. Prior to his death, he had posted a series of videos called, “The American Workplace Bully: How FOX News Ended My Career.” In the videos, he claimed he was unjustly fired from the Austin Fox News affiliate. The videos do reveal secretly recorded conversations with the general manager of the Austin Fox News affiliate saying other employees “feared” Perea and that Perea made them uncomfortable. He was ultimately fired for “unprofessional behavior.” Also in the video series, Perea claimed he was actually fired because of a conflict with Austin police chief Art Acevedo, who was upset about a photo Perea had used in a story and subsequently refused any one-on-one interviews with the station.
In February 2014, two Austin police officers arrested a jaywalking jogger. A cell-phone video of the bust – in which the cops can be seen grabbing Stephen to stop her, and she goes limp – went viral, sparking international backlash over the alleged force used by the officers. A media fracas followed Stephen’s arrest, one that grew so intense that Chief Acevedo was asked to respond during an unrelated press conference. He made a rhetorical mistake that day by attempting to dismiss the backlash, saying, “In other cities there’s cops who are actually committing sexual assaults on duty, so I thank God that this is what passes for controversy in Austin, Texas.” (Acevedo would later apologize, citing the emotional context of the same-day conviction of a cop-killer, the actual subject of the press conference.)
In promoting the story for newscast, Perea used this photo to tease their upcoming newcast on Facebook. As you can see, it was aligning a picture of Stephen crying next to one of Acevedo reacting. Apparently the photo used of the chief was more sensational than informative, and Perea’s superiors didn’t like it and neither did Acevedo.
My .02 worth: Maybe Perea wasn’t mentally stable. I don’t know. I’m not a psychiatrist. Maybe the guy couldn’t cut the mustard as a promo producer. But from the videos he posted explaining his take on the firing, I’m willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. It sounds like a public servant was trying to influence access to the FOX 7 Austin, and its ability to do it’s job. It also sounds like the GM and the News Director was looking for a scapegoat! Because Phillip Perea was a low level promo producer, I allege that he was declared the sacrificial lamb by KTBC to save face with the Austin Police Department! I’m also willing to bet lots of money that Perea was under intense stress from losing his job ($$$$) from the situation brought to him. If my allegations are true, then Fox corporate HR, the GM, the News Director and all others responsible for orchestrating his firing should hang their heads in shame. But then again, this is a company that specializes in lying to the public just for the sake of making $$$$.