U.S. Rep. Diane Black and opponent Lou Ann Zelenik have been slugging it out in primaries and the courts for the better part of two years, trading jabs and briefs in one of the nastier intra-party squabbles we've seen in a long time.
But she's probably not ready to take a shot at Black just yet.
If you picked up the Murfreesboro Post this week, though, you might think otherwise.
On the cover, the staff of the Post photoshopped (what a horrible, useful verb) a picture of Black into an old campaign photo of Zelenik at a shooting range. The effect was to make it look like she was aiming at a target of Black's head.
In the wake of the Gabby Giffords shooting in Arizona, officials, and especially members of Congress, are a little sensitive to the issue. Black's campaign went, er, ballistic, yelling at Post managing editor Michelle Willard for 20 minutes on Monday. Black’s folks even invoked Byron (Low Tax) Looper, the Republican loon who killed his Democratic opponent for the state Senate in 1998.
When asked by Pith if she would do the cover again, Willard laughed and offered a quick "no."
Was there much conversation about the cover and its implications? "Probably not as much as there should have been," she said. It's part of the deadline scramble newspapers sometimes face: Time is short, someone comes up with what they think is a good idea, "groupthink" takes over, Willard said.
Incidentally, the story the cover was referring to — "Charges of ethics violations substantially true," by Jonathan Fagan — was a good piece of journalism, weaving through the history of the two candidates and the allegations that Black's husband David and his firm Aegis got millions in no-bid state contracts while she was a state senator.
Willard gave Pith the following statement:
The cover was not intended to advocate violence against any of our honorable representatives. It was meant to represent the heated, ongoing battle between Rep. Diane Black and her challenger in the August Primary, Lou Ann Zelenik.
The issue has nothing to do with the front page of our paper and more to do with the ongoing acrimony between Diane Black and Lou Ann Zelenik and is an attempt by Diane Black to distract from the article.