Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Nashville Scene's hit job on Newt Gingrich's First Tuesday event

Newt Gingrich's appearance in Nashville yesterday was widely covered by local and national media. Most media factually reported the events of the day and if they had a bias they hid it. While most members of the working press may be liberal, most journalist try to adhere to a code of ethics and strive for at least a semblance of fairness, truthfulness and objectivity. Not the Scene's Jeff Woods.

The Nashville Scene's coverage of the First Tuesday Newt Gingrich event made no attempt at fairness or objectivity. It was a hit job. Even in opinion pieces, most writers do not resort to juvenile name calling. But that is standard fare for the Scene's Jeff Woods.

"A glittering galaxy of Tennessee's craziest Republicans came out to hear Newt Gingrich speak this afternoon in downtown Nashville," begins his article. "Robin Smith, Stacey Campfield, Mae Beavers, Tony Shipley, Jim Gotto and Lou Ann Zelnik were among the many wingnuts crammed into a room at the offices of the Waller Lansden lobbying/law firm for Gingrich's appearance." From there it gets worse.

He reports that Senator Stacy Campfield was "snubbed" at the event by not being introduced when other dignitaries were introduced. "Tim Skow, president of the GOP club hosting Gingrich, introduced a gang of elected officials," writes Woods, "but pointedly refused to acknowledge Campfield." "Is Campfield now an embarrassment even in this crowd?" he writes.

Why would Campfield be considered an embarrassment? Woods does not explain. I can guess it is because he is the sponsor of the so called "Don't say gay" bill which would prohibit teachers from discussing homosexuality in the classroom in the lower grades. This has sent some liberals off the deep end. I have not really given much thought to the issue but I certainly don't find that the bill makes Senator Campfield one who would be an embarrassment.

Even if one does not agree with some of the legislation that a particular elected official has sponsored, if other dignitaries of equal rank are being introduced, I don't know of any moderator who would purposely single out one person to fail to recognize. That violates protocol. That would simply be poor manners. It just isn't done.

I asked Tim Skow about the failure to recognize Campfield and he explained that it was simply an oversight. "Because you mentioned his comments, I wasted the time to look at what Mr. Woods wrote," said Tim. "Must admit, I roared with laughter at any suggestion of 'snubbing' of Senator Campfield. All I can say is consider the source of the comments.. and that I suspect Mr. Woods has fallen off his prescription medications again". 

Tim is being less outraged than I would be, but just "considering the source" is probably the best response to reporting like this. I know the Scene strives to be youthful and hip and "with it" and this is the kind of reporting you get when that is more important than fairness, truthfulness and objectivity.

I usually read the Scene. I like to keep up with the art and entertainment news, restaurant reviews, movie reviews and music industry news. In fact, I think they do a pretty good job of that coverage. When reading the Scene's coverage of news events however I do not expect facts. Facts might get in the way of attitude. The Nashville Scene is like The Rolling Stone with an underpaid and less talented staff. The Scene is to newspaper journalism what The Colbert Report is to television journalism. Consider the source.

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1 comment:

  1. Great piece, Rod!

    I saw Woods' piece the day it was published. I clicked through because it came up on a search I did for Newt. Otherwise, I wouldn't have looked or cared.

    Jeff Woods is a one trick pony writing to inbred believers. He has no interest in journalism, facts, integrity or reality.

    If it rains today, he'll find a way to disparage the political right for that and if the sun shines tomorrow, he'll do the same.

    I can count the number of times I've read a Scene in the last few years on one hand. Why? Jeff Woods. Why would I bother reading anything from a source that printed anything written by him.

    You're known by the company you keep. I'm proud to keep company with the crazies and the wing-nuts he disparages yet depends on for his living. Given the state of Tennessee politics, he's going to have material for years to come because few folks actually believe what Woods does. There's a reason for that ...