Cam Edwards, the host of the National Rifle Association's television and radio shows, is backtracking on a claim in his biography that he is the recipient of a Heartland Emmy Award.
After being contacted by Media Matters about multiple biographies listing Edwards' Emmy claim, Edwards updated his bio to say he “shared in” an Emmy Award as part of a documentary crew. According to the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Heartland Chapter, “only our official award-winners may” call themselves Emmy winners. Edwards is not listed as any of the five named crew members in the award citation.
The Heartland Chapter is one of 20 regional groups under the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences that annually gives out Emmy Awards for accomplishments in television. Prior to joining NRA News in 2004, Edwards worked in television and radio in Oklahoma, one of several regions covered by the Heartland Chapter.
Although it has since been changed, Edwards biography page at NRA listed him as the recipient of “the Heartland Chapter Emmy Ward [sic].” A similar biography on the website of NRA advertising agency Ackerman McQueen also lists Edwards as an Emmy winner.
But in archives dating back to the Heartland Chapter's founding, Edwards is not listed as a nominee or winner of any Emmy for any year. When asked for an explanation, NATAS Heartland Chapter executive director Audrey Elling wrote by email that she could “find no record for a nomination or an award for Cam Edwards in our chapter.”
Elling added that Edwards is “misrepresenting himself” on his biography pages: “Based on my experience, I'd like to assume that Cam worked on an Emmy award winning production, but was not officially listed as one of the crew, which is why his name doesn't come up in our database. Even if that's the case, he is misrepresenting himself on his website: only our official award-winners may self-designate as such.”
After being contacted by Media Matters, Edwards updated his biography page to say that he “shared in a Heartland Chapter Emmy Award for the OETA 'Stateline' documentary on Oklahoma's Capitol dome.” Edwards explained by email to Media Matters, “I was only a part of a great team in the documentary unit, and my bio should reflect that.” The Heartland Chapter lists OETA executive producer Bill Perry, writer/researcher Billie Rodely, reporter/producer Susan Miller, videographer/editor Randy Hayes, and program executive Bill Thrash as the five winners of the Emmy for the documentary on the Oklahoma State Capitol dome.
UPDATE: After publication, Edwards sent Media Matters a photo of a certificate he says he received from the Heartland Emmy Chapter “for the significant contribution of Reporter/Producer to the 2003 Emmy Award Winning Entry 'Stateline: Oklahoma Rising.'” He maintains that his updated bio, which now says he “shared in a Heartland Chapter Emmy Award,” “accurately reflects that I shared in this effort by the documentary unit.” Edwards also published a nearly 1,500 word essay at The Federalist describing this post as “a failed Media Matters smear.”
Asked to explain the significance of the certificate, Audrey Elling, the executive director of the Heartland Emmy chapter, told Media Matters by email (emphasis original): “That's a Production Certificate, issued when someone worked on an Emmy Award-winning production but who was not listed on the entry form and, therefore, was not statue-eligible. ... ONLY those entrants who have a statue may designate themselves as Emmy award winners. Period. The Emmy Award is the statue: if you have one with your name on it, you're an award winner; if you don't, you're not.”
Elling also pointed Media Matters to their official policy, which explains, “Others who work on a nominated or winning entry may order production certificates or plaques. Individuals who did not receive a statuette, but were eligible for production certificates and/or plaques are not considered Emmy recipients.”
This post has been updated to correct the program on which Edwards worked.