A West Virginia journalist was fired last month after exposing abuses against people with disabilities at a state health agency.
Amelia Ferrell Kniseli says she has been warned to stop reporting allegations that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources withheld information about the treatment of people with disabilities in state care. West Virginia Public Radio.
“Last week, I was fired from my job at WVPB following threats from DHHR to report DHHR’s treatment of people with disabilities,” he wrote. December 28 on Twitter.
Last month, Knisely’s advocacy group announced that it was accusing the state of not properly institutionalizing people with disabilities. The group said the state was either “dumping patients” or “keeping patients by allowing them to be institutionalized unnecessarily.” he wrote.
He also reported on a letter Republican Senate President Craig Blair sent to Gov. Jim Justice asking for a formal investigation into the allegations.
Health and Human Resources executives “threatened to discredit” WVPB, a publicly funded television and radio network, according to a fired reporter.
Instead it was Knisely is said to have released.
“Holding government agencies to account is critical for the press,” Knisely said in a statement Tuesday. – It should be noted that these events took place after my report on the ill-treatment of disabled people under state care.
He said the order came from WVPB Executive Director Butch Antolini, former Justice Communications Director. Antolini took the job in 2021 after his predecessor, Justice, was ousted after an overhaul of the agency’s board. Justice himself tried to eliminate the $4 million in annual state funding for the WVPB.
Antolini did not comment on Knisely, but other officials denied trying to influence the coverage.
William H. File III, chairman of the West Virginia Educational Broadcasting Authority, claims Knisely has not been fired and remains on the station’s payroll. He insisted that Antolini was “not coerced or pressured by anyone”.
Knisely said the state asked him to “completely retract” the story he wrote in November, a month after he was hired by WVPB.
While that didn’t happen, her news director, Eric Douglas, told her she could no longer cover the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources because the state threatened to discredit the network.
Knisely complained to the human resources department about the interference with her report on Dec. 15, but was told five days later that the part-time positions were being eliminated. At that time, his email and key card stopped working.