Daily Archives: September 18, 2008

Satanic majesties

No doubt, we weren’t the only ones who howled with laughter when we spotted the current Creative Loafing in a box in Decatur.  The cover photo of Bob Barr is delightfully evil.  It is among several taken during a Libertarian Party fundraiser. Photographer Joeff Davis — if that’s his real name — used the tried-and-true technique of below-the-subject lighting.  It put horns on Barr’s head (in the print version) and put Spockian shadows on his eyebrows.  Barr’s reptilian smile is all his own doing.

(Did somebody mention Spock?  Sorry, then resistance is futile.   If the f-word or homoerotic themes offend you, then skip this rather side-splitting video.)

Given the relative anonymity of his presidential candidacy, Barr probably didn’t complain much.  This would contrast sharply with the reaction John McCain’s camp had over a photo that appears in this month’s Atlantic.

Apparently, Atlantic hired a lefty photographer who happily took her political agenda to the shoot.  The result was a photo that McCain’s backers used as ammo to gripe about what they see as a media conspiracy against their guy.

The Fox News Channel was apoplectic.  Its snarling interview with Atlantic’s editor was ringing with naked partisan outrage.  (Regular viewers of Fox News are probably accustomed to this.  We aren’t.)  The Atlantic editor apologized and denounced the photographer.  The dissatisfied Fox anchor all but demanded legal action or, it seemed, a good ol’ fashioned necktie party.

Praising with faint damnation

Joanna Massee, WGCL

Joanna Massee, WGCL

There were a couple of good things about Joanna Massee’s lead story on WGCL Tuesday at 11.  The story, billed as a “CBS-46 investigation,” was a worthwhile bit of enterprise:  Check the records of complaints against Atlanta’s 911 center, and see if the center has badly botched any calls.  It’s newsworthy in light of the recent firing of a Fulton Co. 911  operator whose dispatch miscue resulted in a woman’s death.

The problem was, Massee’s case-in-point was pretty weak.  She found a woman who’d called 911 from I-285, hysterical because she thought the driver of a tanker truck was stalking her.  Ultimately, both vehicles pulled over (why’d the victim pull over on the interstate?) and the tanker truck driver drove off.  The operator, who repeatedly said she couldn’t understand the caller, never dispatched a cop to the scene.  The woman filed a complaint and griped on camera to Massee.  Massee reported the operator was “disciplined.”

In other words, it was pretty thin gruel.  If this was the worst case Massee could find, one could conclude that Atlanta’s 911 center is doing a pretty good job.

But there was good stuff here.  The best part of Massee’s piece came during her closing live shot.  She showed the records on camera, and told viewers that it took the City of Atlanta one month to produce the documents she’d requested under the Open Records Act.  That kind of foot-dragging is borderline illegal, though Massee didn’t say it.  It’s the reaction of a government agency that’s trying to hide something.  The public ought to be outraged.

But the news media has done an excellent job of making itself completely unsympathetic in the eyes of the public.  As a result, the public gets cynical when reporters demand answers and records from public agencies.  That’s unfortunate, and it plays into the hands of those who drag their feet (or cover up) when the press seeks to uncover wrongdoing.