Only nine (9) days after Max Brantley on August 18 published a court transcript embarrassing former drug court judge Mary Ann Gunn, the Northwest Arkansas Times has published the transcript and followed up with an article of its own and then a critical column by local columnist Brenda Blagg. Here is Brantley’s response.
What NWA Times doesn’t mention at all, however, is that they recently uncritically supported Gunn in an editorial in which they claimed that no harm was ever done by broadcasting drug court proceedings on television. The transcript showing that Gunn at least in one case tried to coerce a defendant into agreeing to be on television against her will embarrassed these editors as much as Gunn – and one hopes they’ll be more careful in future to do their journalistic homework before going public embracing this or that local celebrity.
UPDATE: NWA Times on August 31 followed up with a strong editorial rebuke of Judge Gunn, concluding: “Gunn’s actions were an abuse of both power and public trust.”. (Brantley’s response)
UPDATE 2: John Brummett interviews Gunn.
Brummett to Pryor’s defense
Arkansas Media Watch has attracted some attention for pointing out, and refuting, false claims by both Arkansas Senators about half the population allegedly not paying taxes. At least Senator Pryor has been forced to backtrack, claiming through his aide Michael Teague to have been misquoted. The somewhat clumsy attempt at damage control was executed by Democratic-leaning columnist John Brummett in the Northwest Arkansas Times. As a result, there are now two versions of Pryor’s remarks both reported in the same newspaper. If Pryor was indeed misquoted, NWA Times, which claims to abide by a factual accuracy policy, needs to publish a correction. If not, it needs to publish a correction.
UPDATE: NWA Times editors now deny that the newspaper said what it said.
We’ll have more to say on this issue. For the moment, let’s take a breath and note that blogs can indeed have an impact. The local media are paying attention and are sometimes – too rarely – forced to correct themselves or report some under-reported issue. Politicians are sometimes forced to react. This blog’s posts about Pryor‘s and Boozman‘s wrong and insulting remarks have been noted and expanded on by Arkansas Blog, Blue Arkansas, Fayetteville Free Thinkers, and even quoted (if selectively) by an avowed right-wing blog. And when you google “Senator Boozman” or “Senator Pryor”, Arkansas Media Watch ranks third in both cases. Fortunately, our Senators can still count on the corporate media to cover their behinds.