The News Director for Cox Media Orlando, which runs WFTV, said that their agreement with the former Chief Judge ended “several weeks ago.”
By Jacob Engels
After Belvin Perry confirmed to WFTV reporter Christopher Heath that he was indeed going to become a candidate for State Attorney in Orange and Osceola County, the Central Florida Post reached out to WFTV to determine if Perry would remain in his role as their legal analyst. Embattled current State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced yesterday that she would not seek a second term in 2020.
— Christopher Heath (@CHeathWFTV) May 28, 2019
According to Matt Parcell, the News Director for Cox Media Group Orlando, Perry’s agreement with the station ended several weeks ago. The most recent broadcast citing Perry as the legal expert for the station was a May 16th report on how the justice system lost 25k Florida fugitives. Perry served on the bench since 1989 in Florida’s 9th judicial circuit, with stints as Chief Judge from 1995 to 1999 and again from 2001 to 2011. He gained notoriety for presiding over the trial of Casey Anthony and recently did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) about the case.
His relationship with WFTV will be closely watched as he mounts his campaign for State Attorney, as favorable coverage or more time devoted to covering his campaign might be seen as a sign of favoritism and bias from the news organization in favor of their former legal analyst.
WFTV would be wise to give equal time to all candidates in the race to avoid the appearance of impropriety and Mr. Perry should readily accept those terms. It is not known why a public announcement regarding Perry’s departure wasn’t widely circulated, but his departure is a sign that he has been plotting a campaign for some time, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel and other news organizations locally.
Perry would enjoy considerable name ID in a campaign for public office thanks to his presiding over the Casey Anthony trial, subsequent high-profile hire at the ad-happy Morgan & Morgan law firm and his role as legal analyst for one of Central Florida’s local news stations.
The other candidates currently in the race are Kevin Morenski and Ryan Williams. Morenski is a family law and criminal defense attorney, while Williams is a former lead prosecutor for the State Attorney’s office in Orange and Osceola County.
*A WESH report from this afternoon claims that Perry is “still considering” whether or not he will get in the race, which is different than what WFTV’s Christopher Heath reported on Twitter yesterday afternoon.
Jacob Engels is an Orlando based journalist whose work has been featured and republished in news outlets around the globe including Politico, InfoWars, MSNBC, Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Daily Mail UK, Associated Press, People Magazine, ABC, Fox News, and Australia’s New Dawn Magazine. Mr. Engels focuses on stories that other news outlets neglect or willingly hide to curry favor among the political and business special interests in the state of Florida.