Wednesday, November 14, 2007

E.W. Scripps Employee Attacks Brian Hornback

On Monday November 12, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. the West Knox Republican Club met at the Copper Cellar in West Knoxville. A large crowd was in attendance to hear from our former Tennessee Republican Governor Don Sundquist. The custom of the club is to go around the room where Republican elected officials and former Republican officials stand and introduce themselves. They go around the room a second time for Republican candidates to introduce themselves.

On this particular evening, former GOP Chair Chad Tindell and I along with current Republican Chairwoman Irene McCrary were present. When my time came, I made the same introduction that I have made at the Karns Republican Club and other clubs in recent months. “I am Brian Hornback, the immediate Past Chairman of the Knox County GOP. We will be having a family discussion that will conclude on February 5, 2008. When that family discussion has ended we must support the Republican candidate. We can not vote for a Democrat or an Independent candidate because we need to send the message to the Knoxville News-Sentinel that they do not run this town.” Everywhere I make this statement it is warmly received. This evening was no different, many people standing near me said, AMEN. Others at the end of the meeting came to me after the meeting thanking me and saying we are so glad that you said that, except one person, retired E.W. Scripps reporter Georgiana Vines.

I noticed that she walked past me twice, while I was talking to members of the club. I overheard my friend, fellow Republican and Scripps customer Steve Hunley said, something to the effect of there is a News-Sentinel person. I was involved in another conversation with a Republican candidate. Within a few seconds, Georgiana Vines was in my face, angrily asking “what do you have against the News-Sentinel?” My response to her rude interruption was, “other than the fact that you all are a Democrat paper” She said “you all?” I said “You receive a paycheck from them, correct?” At this point Steve Hunley said, hey, I asked her to come over, because I wanted to meet her. I said, “Yes, well thank you for stopping Georgiana” and I carried on with my conversation. It didn’t last long because she came right back into my face. She said “we support more Republicans than Democrats” I said “well name them.” She said "I will have to get you the list.” I said “I look forward to you providing me that list.” She then said. "We did support Bredesen." I said "yes, I believe Bruce Hartmann served on a Bredesen committee." She said “no, he would have been fired had he given money to Bredesen.” She said “we support a lot of Republicans like Lamar!” I said “I know for a fact that Bruce Hartmann sat in the Bredesen reserved seats at the West High School debate.” For the second time I thanked Georgiana for stopping to talk with me. She then said. “We have always supported more Republicans than Democrats, because as a party you run more qualified and better candidates.” I thanked her for the kind words about our candidates and said “we will have to wait and see what happens in 2008.” For a third time I said. “Georgiana, it was great talking to you and thank you for stopping to talk to me.”

At this point she walked off and the five or six individuals that witnessed the attack on me said, wow she was mad. Then one candidate said that was about like the time at Halls when another Scripps employee (Sandra Clark) jumped on Steve Hunley. That incident occurred after the Halls Republican Club meeting and I don’t remember what was said exactly, however three witnesses informed me at the time that she recommended for him to go and do something to himself, that is physically impossible to do to oneself.

From what I can recall, Georgiana was not as angry as Sandra was that evening. Georgiana was defending her employer, which I admire. I simply wish she could have toned down the hate and replaced it with some good passion instead.

The quick bottom line is most employees of media recognize that their job is to report the news and events they cover. They are not to become the news or the story and on Monday night Georgiana became the story. Members of the media that are editorial in nature are to give their opinion, but not try and correct the issue they are editorializing about.

Politicians are expected not to be thin skinned; it would serve the members of the media not to be thin skinned as well. They can certainly dish it out with inaccurate columns and stories, they can print complete falsehoods in something called Gossip and Lies. They can dig up old UN flattering photos of public servants. However, when the shoe is on the other foot, they get angry, hostile and down right mean.

It is simply part of the process. It is not always pretty, it is sometimes ugly. It is not always kind, it is sometimes UN pleasant. But unfortunately it is what the media has created.

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