Monday, August 19, 2002

The Crone Speaks

Just when you think she might finally move on, the Commercial Appeal's Susan Adler Thorp, like a cat toying with a ragged mouse corpse, keeps coming after George Flinn. This time, she somehow managed to get the hapless Flinn to sit down with her for an "exit interview." What is heaven's name possessed the poor man to do this?

As expected, she lobs all the same tired charges and mischaracterizations she's been making for weeks now. But her intent seems to be to get Flinn to agree with her, not to elicit new information.
Flinn figured enough money could buy the name
recognition and campaign strategy he needed to be
elected. But he says he learned the hard way that it takes more
than that to win a top elected office. It often takes years of
community activism and public service, and an innate ability to
build coalitions.
This was obvious from Day One, but did Thorp offer this advice? No, she did not. Instead, she used a grocery store snub to launch a full frontal assault against Flinn. Of her last ten columns, five have been attacks against Flinn. Does no one at the CA even notice? Has no one tried to talk to this poor woman?

Are you aware that people perceived your campaign as divisive?

I understand that and I wish that hadn't happened. What I was
being told (is), this is the way you show the difference in
philosophy (between the candidates). We were trying to make a
contrast. It probably should have been done a little more gently.
The "divisive" perception, while it has some merit, was also fanned by this very columnist and her paper.

Flinn nails her, and the CA, with this comment:
There's been a lot of speculation that I got a sweetheart deal
and that I'm making a ton of money on the (Memphis) Grizzlies.
I've got a sports station. We pay the Grizzlies to broadcast, so I
don't make money from them. We have to sell advertising to
make up that money. If they're successful, we probably can sell
more advertising. If they're not successful, we'll probably lose.

I had nothing to do with the arena and where they play makes
no difference to me. I'm still going to try to sell the advertising.
All this was public knowledge before and during the campaign, but did the CA even bother to point it out? Of course not, as it would have impeded Wharton's campaign!

Look at the next series of questions, minus Flinn's responses:
Were you prepared to spend over a million dollars?

Why did you pick those out-of-town consultants?

Did you know ahead of time this group was well known for razor-edge campaigning?

You won the primary, beating state Rep. Larry Scroggs. There was negative campaigning. Did that bother you?

Did you really think when you attacked (Wharton) on his legal career or the arena deal, that would help you win?

What about the robo call attacking him (Wharton)?
All questions have the built-in biases that SAT has been laying for months in her columns. All she wants him to do is confirm them. If Flinn were not as voluble and good-natured as he is, she'd have jack-all for a column.

And then there are the out-of-the-blue questions like this:
Did you go to speech school?
What, pray tell, does this have to do with anything? All politicians and public figures have some schooling in public speaking, either professional advice or learning by doing. What is her point? I suspect she just wants to reinforce her previous characterization of Flinn as an untutored boob.

Then there's this memorable exchange:
Do you think that the media, including The Commerical Appeal, lost this campaign for you?

Honestly? Yes.

How come?

I saw what was on TV and saw what was written and said to
myself rhetorically: "Who is it they're writing about? It's not me."
What I saw coming out of either the campaign image or the
image in the newspaper or on the television was not who I am.
I'm not that person.

Do you believe the media went out of their way to write negative things
about George Flinn?

I think they did. I couldn't understand that. I'm not bitter. That's
the way it was. I didn't see the importance of it.
First, "how come?" What school of journalism did she go to? "How come?" Geez....

Notice too that she only asks of his perceptions, not of any demonstrable facts of CA and SAT attack, like what I've been documenting here at Half-Bakered. It's "him," not reality. Once again, she gets to make her point while dodging responsibility for it. Reprehensible.

What was the low point of your campaign?

When I saw the portrayal of me. I saw somebody that you
wouldn't want to elect. Somebody that was inept, who didn't
have the foggiest notion about what he was doing, somebody
that was being led around by people and somebody who had
more money than sense.

Your handlers didn't let you have much access during part of the
campaign to the media. Was that a mistake?

Yes. The one thing I didn't want to do is make a bunch of basic
novice mistakes and say something that was way out of line.
What I learned, I was smart enough to have a healthy fear of
campaigning and a healthy fear of the office, knowing this is
going to be hard work.
More of the same. Note the "your handlers" crack and how she glides right by his point about the CA's portrait of him without acknowledging it. And the asked-and-answered of "Was that a mistake?"

Thorp claims the interview took 75 minutes. I wonder what was left out.

Well, I also hope that finally, finally, finally, she'll get off her "get Flinn" kick and find something else to savage.

And once more, I'll note that of ten columns she's done now, NOT ONE was focused on or exploratory of AC Wharton. All she could do was tear into, smear, insult, demean, taunt and vilify an otherwise (as this interview shows) good and decent man.

I may have to take a break from covering SAT in order to get the slime off. I suspect the slimy feeling will stick with me.

Until next time,
Your Working Boy

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