Kyle Whitmire Plans Unauthorized Biography of Donald Watkins
Updated: Jan 19
By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published on May 31, 2019
Remember Kyle Whitmire? He is a Birmingham, Alabama-based reporter with the Alabama Media Group, which owns The Birmingham News and the website AL.com. Whitmire covered my criminal trial on wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy charges in February and March of 2019. Whitmire’s coverage of the trial fed a steady stream of slanted news articles to Google and local TV news outlets.
While I was on trial, I did not write or publish any articles about the developments in the courtroom. This journalistic void allowed Whitmire to do his thing unchallenged on behalf of a media competitor and real-world nemesis.
In the months leading up to my trial, AL.com and The Birmingham News columnists and reporters did everything within their power to poison the well of public opinion against me. For example, columnist John Archibald and Reckon at AL.com Managing Editor John Hammontree fabricated a racist quotation and attributed it to me in two AL.com articles that were published after my November 29, 2018 indictment. This fake racist quotation was retracted January 13, 2019, but only after I launched a six-week, unrelenting media campaign against AL.com and The Birmingham News to correct this blatant abuse of journalistic power.
Kyle Whitmire took over where John Archibald and John Hammontree left off. In covering my criminal trial, Whitmire functioned much like a propaganda minister for a third world government. He went out of his way to highlight the government’s evidence while minimizing mine.
Whitmire’s reporting during the trial was a classic example of COINTELPRO-era journalism by a reporter from a newspaper that actively participated in the FBI’s infamous counterintelligence program to target and discredit civil rights activists like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy, and hundreds of other advocates for social justice, economic empowerment, educational parity, and the fair administration of justice.
I learned earlier this month that Kyle Whitmire is planning to write an unauthorized biography of me. Whitmire does not know me; he only knows the false narrative he wants to paint about me. This time, Whitmire plans to profit directly from his work. The last time, Whitmire’s media organizations profiteered from the bump in the slanted “clickbait” articles he wrote about my trial.
Obviously, I will not be cooperating with Kyle Whitmire on this book project. I prefer to tell my own truth.
My intimate knowledge of the role of journalists like Kyle Whitmire played in the COINTELPRO program is why I have my own news website and public Facebook page. As an African-American who grew up in the Deep South during the height of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, I learned that we should never leave our history for people like Kyle Whitmire to tell. We must record our own history, for it will be the closest we will ever get to the truth.
Kyle Whitmire is hopelessly trapped in a web of negative racial stereotypes. What makes Whitmire dangerous is his ability and willingness to poison the well of knowledge with biased reporting on matters of significant public interest.
Whitmire’s History of Untrustworthiness
On July 27, 2012, Weld for Birmingham Publisher Mark Kelly issued a telling press statement on the newspaper’s website about reporter Kyle Whitmire’s decision to leave Weld to accept a job at the Alabama Media Group. Kelly stated:
“Over the past several weeks, substantial differences arose between our management team and Kyle. Those differences were related to our plans for the immediate and future direction and priorities of Weld for Birmingham and its online and print publications. They also involved issues related to Kyle’s current and past job performance and fulfillment of his duties as a shareholder in our company. It seems clear that all of that factored into his decision to accept the position he has been offered with our competitor.
Regarding the issues that contributed to Kyle’s decision, I will not provide specifics, as they involve proprietary information about our company’s operations. We have been aware for a few weeks that Kyle was in discussions with Alabama Media Group, though he did not see fit to share that information with us until yesterday, when he told us that he had received and intended to accept a job offer.
On a personal note, I do find it ironic that their recruitment of Kyle comes at a time when the Birmingham News has fired a substantial number of talented and seasoned reporters. Clearly, it is a competitive move in response to the inroads Weld has made in the past 11 months toward our goal of becoming the primary source of news and information for the Birmingham area. That certainly is their prerogative, as it is Kyle’s to accept what I assume is a substantially higher salary than we as a startup company can afford. Of course, it’s ironic anyway, given some of the reporting and editorializing Kyle has done about the company for which he apparently now will be working. These things happen in business….”.
In his own words, Kelly, who is a highly respected media professional, publicly told the Birmingham community that Weld had issues with Kyle Whitmire’s job performance and his unwillingness or inability to fulfill his duties as a shareholder in Weld. I interpreted Kelly’s statement as a subtle pronouncement that Weld found Whitmire sorely lacking in productivity as a journalist and failing as a financially capable and reliable business partner.
Additionally, Whitmire deserted his business partners at Weld without letting them know he was bailing out on them until the last minute. The way in which Whitmire deserted Weld speaks volumes about his loyalty and commitment to the people with whom he shared a fiduciary relationship in business.
Furthermore, Whitmire joined a media competitor he privately and publicly disparaged while working at Weld. In essence, Whitmire abandoned business partners who trusted him to get in bed with Weld’s media “enemy" at the time.
This “enemy” -- The Birmingham News -- has a sordid past. In 2004, the Alabama Supreme Court described how The Birmingham News defrauded six of its longtime former newspaper distributors in the case of The Birmingham News v. Sherry Horn. The News has never publicly acknowledged defrauding these victims and has never apologized for the serial acts of fraud it perpetrated against them.
Kyle Whitmire found a journalistic home that fits him well. The Birmingham News has solid credentials in defrauding business partners. It regularly departs from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics when writing and publishing articles. It has a documented history of fabricating fake racist quotations and attributing them to adversaries. And, it has a long and distinguished record as a ready, willing, and able COINTELPRO participant.
This is the person wants to tell my story? I don’t think so.
PHOTO: Kyle Whitmire, a man mired in undisclosed conflicts of interest.