The news that former city councilman and legislator Nestor Garcia was hired as an assignment editor for the local Fox affiliate KHON may seem like an odd personnel choice for a news outlet to make.

Stranger still is the well documented fact that Garcia was cited not once but twice — in both 2012 and 2015 — by the Honolulu Ethics Commission for accepting meals, gifts and other favors from lobbyists during his tenure on the City Council, which lasted from 2003-2013. Garcia was assessed an initial fine of $6,500 in 2012 and then another of $8,100 in 2015 by the commission.

Granted, Garcia was an on-air reporter for KHON from 1981 to 1991 prior to serving first in the Legislature and then on the Honolulu City Council. One could make the argument that the station was simply showing a certain amount of loyalty by re-hiring him this year to serve in what is essentially a desk job.

Nestor Garcia at a 2011 press conference.

Nestor Garcia at a 2011 press conference when he was a City Council member.

Michael Levine/Civil Beat

However, there is loyalty and then there is bad judgment and KHON has shown poor taste not just this year but last year when it hired Garcia to work again as an on-air reporter. What complicated the hiring was the fact that Garcia still owed outstanding fines to the Ethics Commission.

Garcia eventually quit his reporter’s position at KHON but ended up being welcomed with open arms for the second time this year.

For a news organization that is supposed to expose or at the very least report on unethical and questionable behavior perpetrated by politicians and other public officials, hiring a former official with a well-documented proclivity for unethical behavior strikes one as a colossally bad PR move.

Nestor Garcia’s return to KHON is the most blatant example of media malpractice that I have seen in my 21 years as a journalist working both in Hawaii and on the West Coast.

The fact is that KHON has tainted its viability as a news station by making Nestor Garcia as an integral part of its organization. KHON cannot be trusted as a news outlet.

The station likes to tout its “always investigating” line for its investigative reporting segments. Consider this article an example of sorts — an investigation of the flawed nature of a TV news station.

In a Honolulu Star Advertiser article in 2015 about Garcia’s resignation from KHON, he was quoted as saying he didn’t want individuals to “lose faith in the people who report the news.”

Too late.

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