If Janet March is hiding somewhere, she’s probably trying to escape her husband’s endless talking. Shortly after he moved to Chicago, purportedly to escape media attention, Perry March gave long “exclusive” interviews to both WSMV-Channel 4 and The Tennessean. In December and January, March talked daily, sometimes several times a day, to Nashville Scene reporter Willy Stern and spent five hours with Nashville Life writer Wendy Kurland. Last Friday, March wrote an open letter to the chief of police, sending copies to selected members of the press. This week, March is on both WTVF-Channel 5, talking on camera to reporter Larry Brinton, and on Channel 4 being interviewed by telephone.
“Over and over and over,” one reporter wrote, March repeats his lines to each new audience.
Monday night, Channel 5 anchor Chris Clark teased viewers by promising “things you’ve never heard before” from Perry March. “For example,” Clark continued, “March said his in-laws kept him from going to the police when Janet left, to avoid possible embarrassment once she returned.”
“That was the biggest mistake of my life,” March said on camera. “I should have said ‘To heck with you, Caroline and Larry Levine.’ ” March has given the same explanation to everyone. “It was the worst decision of my life,” he tells Kurland in Nashville Life. “I should never have listened to Larry and Caroline and [Janet’s brother] Mark.” March made similar comments to The Tennessean in October and to the Scene in January.
Last weekend, March worked the telephone again, telling several reporters that NecroSearch scientists from Colorado were wasting their time. Channel 4 called the conversation with March an “exclusive interview,” apparently because March hadn’t held a press conference.
Journalists who’ve talked to March say he seems to believe he’s skillfully manipulating the press, playing off one reporter against another, and using the media to attack his in-laws, the police, and anyone who writes stories he doesn’t like.
March’s media image may indeed be a carefully orchestrated fiction. But the haunted, obsessive figure on the screen is no Dick Morris. It may be Raskolnikov.
Darts to Banner lifestyles editor Tim Ghianni for trying to sanitize humorist Dave Barry and turning Barry’s spicy prose into white bread.
A nationally syndicated columnist and Pulitzer prize winner, Barry writes a feature that appears each Monday in the Banner’s “Lifestyles” section. This week, Barry described television commercials that “readers hate the most.”
Barry’s original column said, “People do not wish to hear total strangers blurting out statements about their constipation and their diarrhea and their hemorrhoids and their ‘male itch.’ ” But that’s not what the Banner printed. After Ghianni’s editing, the sentence ended with “their constipation and their diarrhea and their itchy spots.”
“Itchy spots?” Dave Barry should sue the paper. That’s the kind of writing that makes Ghianni’s own column so hard to read without flinching.
Barry also described “Wal-Mart commercials that shamelessly try to portray all Wal-Mart customers as poor, uneducated, rural, and concerned primarily with reproducing themselves. Of course this is true, but still....” Ghianni, inexplicably, left out the final line and ruined the joke.
And Barry’s best line“I have often fantasized about sneaking up behind June Allyson, blowing up a paper bag, and slamming my fist into it, just to see how absorbent those adult diapers really are”got cut completely.
Several months ago, Ghianni censored an entire Barry column because the editor found it too offensive. The paper told readers Barry was “on vacation” that week. To his credit, Ghianni later confessed and explained to readers that he has a tough time with comedy. “I’ m not a funny guy,” he admitted.
The best way to read Barry’s uncensored prose is to go to the Web page of Barry’s home paper, The Miami Herald, at http://www.herald.com.
♦ Teddy Bart’s Round Table can finally be heard throughout downtown Nashville. The city’s best morning radio show lost its transmitting tower last year during a storm and has since been broadcasting signals from a horizontal wire strung between a tree and a telephone pole.
Starting this past Monday, the Round Table now airs simultaneously over both its home station, WKDA-1240AM, still operating at only about 750 watts, as well as station WAMB-1160AM, which has a powerful, 50,000-watt signal.
♦ Laurels to the Banner for launching its own Web site last Friday. Each day, the site features 10 Nashville-related stories, somewhat condensed though not substantially different from what appears in the paper’s final edition. It’s a quick, cheap way of keeping up. Even better, readers can research back issues. Find it at http://www.nashvillebanner.com.
♦ Perhaps out of habit, the Banner is still finding creative ways to disguise unfavorable stories about Gov. Don Sundquist.
“Leaders don’t want lawyers to move,” said The Tennessean, describing how in Sundquist’s own cabinet many opposed the governor’s plan to move most departmental attorneys into one downtown office, far away from the commissioners they’re advising. Reporting the same story, Banner editors came up with the happy-face headline: “State lawyers take 1st step to downsizing.”
Stories in both papers noted that only one cabinet member, the commissioner of Economic and Community Development, publicly supported the governor’s decision. Neither story mentioned that the ECD Commissioner doesn’t even have a staff attorney.
♦ At least those headlines were intelligible. But figure this one out: “High court puts paws on religious ‘thorns,’ ” said a headline in the Banner on Jan. 24. The story itself described two pending Supreme Court cases dealing with religious freedom issues. The story never mentioned “paws” or “thorns.” Asked to translate the headline, Banner managing editor Pat Embry said he had no explanation.
To comment or complain about the media, leave a message for Henry at the Scene (244-7989, ext. 445), call him at his office, 252-2363, or send an e-mail to email@example.com.