Several news staffers at WJLA TV in Washington, D.C., offered critical views of former anchor Doug McKelway, who recently signed on to work in Fox News' D.C. bureau.
Among the criticisms were those of McKelway's work on a controversial news report earlier this year about a demonstration against oil company contributions to government. In that report, he wrongly claimed that Barack Obama had received the largest campaign contribution ever from BP.
Soon after that report was broadcast, McKelway was suspended following a meeting with WJLA News Director Bill Lord, and later fired. He was hired by Fox News earlier this week.
Lord declined to comment on the issue when reached today. But some other current WJLA staffers offered criticism of McKelway's work, especially on that BP story.
"It sounds to me like he was over the line in the way he reported that demonstration," said one WJLA news staffer who requested anonymity. "He handled himself poorly and that's what it boils down to."
Another WJLA staffer said it did not surprise him that McKelway would present a story in such a manner. "I have always known Doug is pretty opinionated and pretty conservative," the source said, citing the BP report as an example.
The same staffer noted that McKelway also hosted a talk show on the station, Let's Talk Live, and speculated that that sometimes sparked him to offer opinions in his reporting. "When you are doing a news piece, you are not supposed to express your opinion," the staffer said.
The same source also said McKelway's temper would bubble up on occasion: "I understand he does have a temper. Doug would go off when he felt that he was right."
One example of that temper might have been a May 7, 2009, interview McKelway did on Let's Talk Live, with controversial filmmaker and blogger Mike Rogers, who had set about outing gay politicians.
During the segment, McKelway threatened Rogers, saying "I'm about ready to do a lot more than point my finger at you.... I'd take you outside and give you a punch across the face..."
"That certainly raised some attention, the fact that Doug threatened to punch the guy on the air," said a third source, also a WJLA news staffer. "When he did that, that is what got my attention."
A fourth staffer also noted the threat, saying, "that really surprised people and he didn't back off on it the next day, either. He seemed to have a hard time keeping opinions to himself."
That same source said writers who worked with McKelway noticed he often wrote things to serve a certain slant: "He apparently would do his best behind the scenes to put stories in a certain direction or agenda and emphasize certain things," the source said, adding that such an approach makes McKelway "a perfect fit for" Fox News.
Fox News and McKelway did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.