Daily Archives: May 19, 2008

Barr’s slush fund

The AJC’s front-page story Sunday about Bob Barr’s PAC was a great read and months overdue. Barr has been using the PAC to finance his own career as a speaker and political pundit, but raising the money from donors by telling them they’re advancing conservative causes. The normally media-friendly Barr’s testy answers to the AJC said it all: “I will not be cross-examined” and “next question!” This issue will short-circuit his already-hopeless Libertarian presidential campaign.

The AJC first broached the issue in a “Q&A In the News” brief, when a reader asked about the breakdown of Barr’s PAC. The AJC blandly reported that Barr kept the vast majority of the PAC’s proceeds to pay salary and office expenses. At that point, any news media outlet should have seen the red flag and uncovered what the AJC did Sunday.

Our only complaint is the AJC’s wimpy headline: “Does he spend it wisely?” The real question is whether Barr, a former AJC columnist, was duping contributors and lining his own pockets.

Prospects

Watching Atlanta TV news on weekends is a little like watching minor league baseball. It lacks the big names and the big audience. (It also lacks the whip-cracking management, which often makes the weekend shifts easier on the nerves and psyche.) There are rookie mistakes. But the game is still played with gusto, and there are gems to discover.

Saturday at 6, WSB had an interesting C-block story by Darryn Moore about thieves who dismantle gas pumps in order to swipe fuel. Gasoline stories are rapidly becoming rather tiresome fixtures in the news these days, but Moore’s photog / editor ramped up the piece with some clever shooting and cool editing. Moore’s live tease was slightly botched with an earpiece feedback problem, but Moore removed his earpiece in mid-tease and kept talking. Ashley Hayes had a similar problem with her lead story from Newton Co., but recovered to produce a solid piece on a TB patient / inmate at the Newton Co. jail.

WAGA’s 10 o’clock news Saturday lacked the technical glitches, and surpassed its competitor content-wise. Julia Harding had some eye-popping surveillance tape shot by an East Atlanta homeowner, showing three young men breaking into her home and running off with a TV set. Harding’s exclusive was also well-shot and well-told. The thieves have struck numerous times. The story could have been hot with emotion and fear, but the production (and interviews with homeowners) gave the story a refreshing cool texture.

Portia Bruner’s coverage of a protest on behalf of death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis was also solid and even-handed. Bruner folded in a previous interview with the widow of the police officer Davis was convicted of killing. However, Bruner’s editor mistakenly used video of the Georgia Supreme Court while Bruner spoke about the US Supreme Court. It was a small, minor-league error on a news day otherwise full of prospect.