Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Left Hand, Meet Right Hand

A strange thing to see in the daily paper. A front-page story that says one thing and an editorial the same day that says something else. Only at the Commercial Appeal.

It began with Tuesday's cover story on City Council Chairman Joe Brown's press release and abrupt press conference, in which he addressed the Iraqi delegation snub he launched. The paper's headline?
Brown apologises to Iraqis
The subhead?
'Sorry' if actions to keep out delegation were 'misconstrued'
The story, by Jacinthia Jones, Blake Fontenay's replacement at City Hall, uses a lot of chop'n'slice of the Chairman's actual speech, rather than quoting the whole thing, or even significant parts. So far as I know, his press release isn't available anywhere on the CA website.

As I said, chopping out bits of the speech and the reporter using her own words in place of what Brown said, devoting a large part of the story to a recap of prior events, then using responses from a couple of interested parties as "reaction," is the whole of the story. It's too short, too scattered and not informative enough.

And the fact is, a close reading of the press release shows that it does not do what the headline claims. It is not an apology, but a defensive explanation. The other fact is that the Iraqis were not present, nor was the press release directed to them. If no one forwards a copy to them, and Brown hasn't indicated if someone has, then they'll never know!

WPTY24 presented a tape of his speech to a local educator, who has seen her share of student apologies, and she pronounced it insincere.

Then there's the editorial, author as usual unknown. It's only here where we get long segments of the speech and press release unedited. It's also where the paper asks a lot of questions that need answering, questions and answers that should have come from the reporter! That editorial's headline?
"Apology" to Iraqis admits no mistakes
They note, in their typical sidewise manner, he should be replaced:
City Council chairpersons are elected, but as a matter of courtesy the title is rotated on the basis of seniority. Perhaps the council should rethink the policy and choose its leadership more carefully in the future.
They also note a few things in the editorial that CA readers may not be aware of, because the paper hasn't reported on them.

And, of course, Carol Chumney is brought in for a sideswipe that is, if I'm not mistaken, based on wrong reporting! From the folks who support the downtown cabal as dutiful soldiers, I expect to see them go after a "trouble-maker" like Chumney, but this one seems forced, gratuitous.

But then, what else do you expect from the daily paper?

One final note: at least two people I've spoken to in the last days have wondered if Brown even wrote the speech himself. He stumbled over one word ("miscontrueded") and some of the language in the explanation just doesn't sound like him. Anyone know for sure?

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