Mike Devlin Is a Little Confused About What ‘Humble’ Means

A hard look at a press release from Channel 8

Pictured: not Mike Devlin

A couple days ago, WFAA Channel 8 sent out a press release about reporter Byron Harris winning an Alfred I. du-Pont-Columbia University Silver Baton (see full release below). It’s a big deal, like a Pulitzer for broadcasters. Putting aside some problems with the reporting for which Harris won the award and also ignoring my own beef with the guy, his boss fires up my new favorite pet peeve. Mike Devlin is the president and general manager of Channel 8. Here’s what he said in the release: “We are truly honored and humbled by this recognition.”

Honored I’ll grant him. Yes, yes. But when you receive a big award, you are not humbled. If the award folks went back and talked to some of the dentists I’ve heard from, the ones who tell me about all the stuff that Harris got wrong, and if they decided to take back the award, then you’d be humbled. Let’s try to keep that straight.

Here’s the release:

For Immediate Release…December 27, 2013…Dallas, Texas…A stinging investigation by WFAA senior reporter Byron Harris revealed fraud and other illegal practices within the Medicaid dental system in Texas. For his series of News 8 Investigates reports, “Dentacaid: Medicaid Dental Abuse in Texas,” Harris has been named winner of a 2014 Alfred I. du-Pont-Columbia University Silver Baton. It is the sixth time the Dallas reporter has been honored with a Silver or Gold Baton for his journalism at WFAA.

During his two years of reporting on the Texas Medicaid system, Harris uncovered millions of taxpayer dollars going to dentists who were billing the U.S. government for questionable orthodontics. Many of the procedures were often unnecessary and, in some instances, actually harmed children. News 8 Investigates reporting featured a variety of hidden camera video and interviews with whistleblowers. The WFAA reports also uncovered shocking techniques using money and food to entice minors as potential patients, all designed to ultimately drive extensive and expensive dental work without parents’ consent.

After dozens of stories detailing overbilling and abuse inside Texas’ Medicaid pediatric dental program, new laws based on Harris’ reporting are now on the books. The Texas Medicaid commissioner and the state’s dental director resigned in the wake of the WFAA reports. Financial forecasters have suggested the monetary impact of the new legislation, prompted by the News 8 Investigates stories, to be approximately $60 million in taxpayer savings over a five-year period.

For his work on this series of reports, Harris, along with WFAA colleagues Jason Trahan, producer; Billy Bryant, photographer and editor; Carolyn Mungo, executive news director; and Mike Devlin, president and general manager, have been honored with a Silver Baton.

“We are truly honored and humbled by this recognition,” said WFAA president and general manager, Mike Devlin. “Investigative reporting is a distinctive component of what we offer WFAA viewers, particularly in a day when many stations have abandoned practicing this kind of journalism altogether. We remain committed to it, and are grateful for this special award.”

Established in 1942 and administered since 1968 by Columbia University, the duPont awards honor excellence in broadcast and digital journalism. The duPonts are considered the broadcast equivalent of the print journalism’s famed Pulitzer Prize.


Get a weekly recap in your inbox every Sunday of our best stories from the week plus a primer for the days ahead.

Find It

Search our directories for...









View All

View All


  • Ted

    You’re in nationally read company. This also happens to be Meghan Daum’s pet peeve:


    • Tim Rogers

      Ah, many thanks, Ted. I am humbled that you cared enough to share this with me.

  • AtoZ

    Forgive me if I’m misreading something, but I find it impossible to accept the award in question as somehow analogous to the Pulitzer Prize, if one local guy already has six of them.

    • Tim Rogers

      Yours is a solid point. I withdraw my characterization of the award, which was (stupidly) cribbed from the Channel 8 press release.

  • OneMoreThing

    The most stunning thing about the Harris reports was that he never mentioned the federal court case that mandated the state actually help poor children who need dental care. Poor dental health hurts a child’s ability to learn and can lead to a lifetime of health problems. I also thought it was interesting when Harris interviewed a wealthy Southlake dentist, who did not take Medicaid, about how poor kids were getting too much dental care. Harris’s coverage was fine to a point. But he beat the subject to death and never showed any interest in poor children who actually need help.

  • Harlan

    While we’re on the subject of pet peeves, I hereby submit, “legend,”as my pet peeve word. Locally, it’s often used to describe old business people who are very successful. Rarely, however, are stories about said legends romanticized or mythologized. It’s especially overused in Dallas to describe anyone in Oil and commercial real estate.

  • Jeff Hayden

    Don’t get me started on Channel 8 News.