Half-Baked 

NashvillePost.com debunks Gore restaurant story

NashvillePost.com debunks Gore restaurant story

Talk about a contrast too good to be true: While George W. Bush deftly leads a historic and triumphant war against terrorism, Al Gore, dressed in a chef’s hat and ketchup-stained apron, toils inside the greasy kitchen of his new meat-and-three.

Last Thursday, the Reuters news agency reported that Al Gore had been running an eatery in his home state. “We have started a family restaurant in Tennessee, and we are running it ourselves. It is a low-cost restaurant,” the news agency quoted him as saying.

The comment was taken from a speech the former vice president gave to the Nigerian Institute of Foreign Affairs. After Reuters ran the story about the former VP’s culinary endeavors, CBS News and other media outlets reported the tale.

On Friday morning, David Fox, the editor of NashvillePost.com, an online business news publication, read about the story on the The Drudge Report. Thinking that it sounded rather implausible, he had reporter Richard Daverman look into it. Sure enough, Daverman debunked the report.

As it turns out, according to the former vice president’s spokesperson, Kiki McLean, the report emanated from a misquote. “He said he was going to a restaurant, a Shoney’s—so it is a low-cost restaurant—not that he was going to open one,” Daverman quoted McLean as saying.

Kudos to NashvillePost for original reporting on the story. Reuters—the same news agency, incidentally, that reportedly forbade the use of the word “terrorist” when describing the Sept. 11 hijackers—corrected its account a few hours after the Post set the record straight.

Naturally, 1510-WLAC afternoon talk radio jock Phil Valentine had fun with the story. Asked what kind of restaurant Al Gore would be appropriately suited for, he told the Scene, “one that offered pork and a lot of crow.”

Pressed into heroism

There are two ways to look at the story of Dayna Curry, the Christian aid worker liberated by U.S. Special Forces from the clutches of the Taliban. One, she is an All-American hero who risked her life to help women and children in one of the world’s most destitute countries. Two, she is a reckless proselytizer who sought to push an alien religion on Muslims and risked the lives of U.S. troops in the process.

So far, the local media has largely presented only the first view of Curry, a Williamson County native. The major television newscasts, along with The Tennessean, have virtually created a new beat consisting of puff pieces about her. They’ve run fawning portrayals of her work in Afghanistan, rehashed her Today Show appearances and reported ad nauseum about her future plans.

The Tennessean’s Michael Cass practically elevated her to sainthood in his Sunday story that could double as a book proposal: “Missionaries and Christian aid workers such as Dayna Curry give up the comforts of home and go into some of the world’s poorest and most dangerous places for a simple reason. They don’t think they have a choice.”

It’s never good for a community when the media moves in lockstep. And while it’s perfectly valid to regard Dayna Curry as a modern-day Mother Teresa with a Jennifer Aniston hairstyle, it’s just as legitimate to see her as an heiress to a Christian missionary tradition that is intolerant and openly hostile to people of different faiths, particularly Islam. It’s a shame that Nashville’s major media outlets have largely ignored that perspective.

Hard right

Freelance City Paper op-ed columnist Molly Secours claims that she lost her job because of her liberal political views. Two weeks ago, the paper’s opinion page editor called her. “She told me that we’re taking a hard right turn to attract investors, and they would no longer be printing me,” says Secours, who has written a series of anti-death penalty columns. “They told me that I always come down on the liberal side of things.”

Brian Brown, the millionaire publisher of the City Paper, says that Secours was misinformed. “We’re trying to get some balance there,” he says about the paper’s op-ed section. “Our audience is liberal and conservative, and when you’re trying to put a product together you want to give people some things they agree with and some things they don’t.”

But Brown’s idea of balance might be a bit skewed. Outside of staffer Ron Wynn, very few of the paper’s local op-ed columnists are left-leaning, and almost none of the paper’s nationally syndicated columnists are liberal. Brown says that he considers syndicated columnist and Hardball host Chris Matthews a liberal, which may be true in the eyes of Oliver North. At the very least, the paper has no one to balance the rantings of conservative loonette Ann Coulter, who was recently fired by National Review for suggesting that the war on terrorism include efforts to convert Arabs to Christianity.

Brown says that the paper didn’t fire Secours—it just won’t be running her columns as frequently. Secours, however, says that while she was told she could continue writing for the paper, it was under the pretense that she “tone it down.” Whether she’ll agree to such terms is an open question.

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