Blame it on The Tennessean’s long and deep ties to Al Gore, or perhaps attribute it to the daily’s own institutional incompetence. But The Tennessean simply won’t break negative news about its editor’s favorite politician.
Recently, the vice president gave a speech at the Nashville City Club honoring his mother, Pauline Gore. The next day, the paper’s Michael Cass dutifully wrote a perky story about the speech, recalling how Gore referred to his mother as ”the greatest teacher I’ve ever had.“ Serving more as a stenographer than as a reporter, Cass also chronicled Gore talking about how his mother was a great campaigner and how she shared his father’s conscience. Whatever.
Anyhow, a more aggressive reporter from abcNEWS.com seized on Gore’s old habit of not showing due reverence to the truth. In a story appearing on that Web site last week, abcNEWS.com reported how the presidential candidate went on to recount how his mother was invited to lunch at the City Club only to be kicked out of the main dining area because of the club’s all-male policy.
Gore said, ”The resulting outrage especially among young professional women here in Nashville, caused a revolutiona minor one albeitbut a major change in the life of this club and a few days later, this City Club was opened to women and the charter was changed.“
Well, actually, as abcNEWS.com reported, it took not a few days but, um, 14 years, before the Nashville City Club opened its membership to women.
After nearly a week had lapsed, The Tennessean belatedly re-reported this latest Gore gaffe in a story on Sunday by Bonna M. de la Cruz. That article, a broader examination of Gore’s penchant for exaggerations, ran on page 11A.
Interestingly, on the same day that The Tennessean reported Gore’s misstatement, the paper’s chairman emeritus, John Seigenthaler, who served as Al Gore’s editor when he toiled at the paper, wrote a meandering, ponderous puff piece about Pauline Gore on the front page of the paper’s Issues section. Discussing how the club’s maitre d’ escorted Pauline Gore out of the main dining area, Seigenthaler solemnly notes, ”There was an unspoken historic irony in the incident: Pauline Gore, who had dined at the White House with Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, Bess and Harry Truman, Jackie and John Kennedy, and Lady Bird and Lyndon Johnson, was not permitted to have lunch with two federal judges in the City Club lunchroom.“
Throughout his maudlin tribute to Pauline Gore, Seigenthaler portrayed her as a veritable Rosa Parks, a true pioneer in the movement for gender equality. Only at the tail end of his lengthy story did Seigenthaler reveal that while Pauline Gore ”never stopped trying to end inequities for women,“ it would take years for the club to change its exclusive policy. Real cause and effect there.
Rack and roll
While a backwater Metro Council subcommittee continues to wring its hands over whether to regulate the growing number of news racks downtown, Hillsboro Village Council member Ginger Hausser might soon take action. She says she’s waiting to see what the subcommittee decides, ”but if I don’t see that committee getting anywhere, I might try to talk with some local publishers and try to work something out.“
While scatterings of news racks are a normal part of the landscape of any city, Hillsboro Village in particular does seem to have more than its share. Just check out the sidewalk in front of Pancake Pantry. Anyhow, while Hausser would like to eke out a voluntary agreement with local publishers, she also says she might introduce legislation requiring them to transfer their papers from the motley collection of news racks into modular news stands throughout her district.
Hip to the whole thing
MTSU journalism professor Glenn Himebaugh wasn’t in a very good mood when he wrote a rather shrill letter to Sidelines, the school’s student-run newspaper. The school’s journalism professors rarely hide their disdain for the paper, in part because it operates independently. In any case, the paper has been historically understaffed, and as a result, prints more than its share of wire stories. Our professor wrote a letter after one issue particularly enraged him. Here are some excerpts:
”By my count, there are 12 campus-generated articlesäand 13 stories from the Associated Press and other distant sourcesä.This is intolerable and inexcusable. On a campus of some 18,000 students to suggest that only 12 articles represent ‘coverage’ of what is going on would be a joke if it were not so pitiful. Yes, I know you are short-staffed, but I am unwilling to accept that excuse any longer. As a professor of journalism and a member of the Student Publications Committee, I am embarrassed and outraged. You’ll be embarrassed, too, or you should be! Get off your duffs and cover this campus.“
The professor might have had more credibility with his students if his letter contained constructive criticisms rather than stern put-downs. And it also would have helped if he realized that nobody uses the word ”duffs“ anymore.
Contact Matt about the media at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call him at 244-7989 ext. 445