AJC Sets New Record For Most Utterly Ridiculous “News” Item

I don’t know where to begin with this one. It’s just that awful. So I’ll let a writing teacher handle the beat-down duties. From Tania Rochelle:

Poor Brian Feagans must have drawn the short straw when he got assigned this remarkable piece. I wonder if they’re planning to do a series: Georgian Recalls Riding the Escalator With Tiger Woods, Atlantan Recalls Waiting in the DMV line With Colin Powell. The two women featured (a mother/daughter team with dreams of meeting Matt Lauer and Oprah, no doubt) are middle-aged Catherine, who once was assigned to a dorm room with Michelle Obama at Princeton and the elder Driving Miss Alice, who demanded a room change for her child. Eventually, Catherine came out as a lesbian and learned what it feels to be marginalized and the mother figured out that her prejudice lost her a ticket to the White House.

The writing itself is horrific; I wouldn’t know where to begin. But what’s worse is the entire premise, along with the literal length(s) it goes to to make its point(lessness). And by the end of the article, I certainly don’t have the impression anyone has learned anything at all. They made the enormous leap from:

“I was horrified,” recalled Brown, who had driven her daughter up from New Orleans. Brown stormed down to the campus housing office and demanded Donnelly be moved to another room.

The reason: One of her roommates was black.

“I told them we weren’t used to living with black people — Catherine is from the South,” Brown said. “They probably thought I was crazy.”

to:

Society changed, and Donnelly has seen her mother nudged along with it. Says Brown: “It’s become politically incorrect to talk about black people in a negative way. It’s like smoking.”

Brown quit smoking in 1996. She’s still working on the other.

Brown says she wouldn’t mind if her child or grandchild roomed with a black person today. But she’s far from colorblind. “Where I draw the line is interracial marriage,” Brown says. “That I can’t quite deal with.”

She holds firm to the belief that African-Americans don’t take enough responsibility. “Bill Cosby says the same thing,” she says. “Get off your rear end and work hard and improve yourself.”

I haven’t read anything this self-indulgent since that AJC obit I wrote about a few months ago. When it was all over, I couldn’t figure out if Feagans was serious, or if he was deviously making fun of the women and giving his editors the invisible finger. If the former, wow. If the latter, what a puss.

Full blog post here. Laughably ludicrous AJC story here. The best part of the whole train wreck? How quickly they could find a K-mart before checking into Princeton! You can take a cracker out of the country, but…

58 comments

  1. drjay says:

    i did not ride an escalator w/ him, but i remember tiger working out at the same gym as me in augusta one year–don’t think it did not change my life.

  2. SpaceyG says:

    Call the AJC! Quick! There’s still time for them to think that’s a remarkable story. And if you’re lucky, they’ll send that baby cub reporter Brian to take you at your literal best. Maybe he’ll even quote you word for word that even though you are white and even though Tiger is black, you thought Tiger was real clean, smelled good, and was just “so articulate.”

    And we get our feelings hurt when black preachers rant and rave about us evil white folk…

  3. jkga says:

    I thought the fact that they would go on record with their indefensible racism (from the 1980’s, and continuing on to this day) is kind of illuminating, and turns what would have been a meaningless puff piece into something pretty interesting.

  4. travis fain says:

    So once you get a little bandwidth and learn how to use a free blog program, are you required to be sanctimonious or is that just a bonus?

    Being a newspaper reporter is hard. Cut the guy a break.

    Travis Fain
    The Macon Telegraph

  5. Donkey Kong says:

    Travis:

    You’re a respectable and talented reporter, so I’m sure you know that everyone writes bad stories on occasion. I don’t recall reading other stories by this guy so I can’t say whether he just had an off day or this is typical of his writing. That said, journalism is a professional occupation and the quality of work deserves to be scrutinized. This was a particularly bad story. Might be his fault. Might be his editors fault. Both probably. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was a bad story.

  6. In the loop says:

    I hope Brian Feagans starts compiling idiotic and poorly-written Peach Pundit posts and printing them in the AJC for our amusement.

    That could fill up the whole paper on a slow news day.

  7. EAVDad says:

    I gotta side with Travis on this one because a) I’m a former ink-stained wretch who I’m sure wrote his fair share of sub-par stories and b) I know Brian Feagans and he’s an excellent reporter.

    No, this was not a shining example of his work, although one could argue that a strong editor could have made it very interesting (and the AJC is lacking strong editors these days). And yes, I think it’s fair for a reporter’s work to be publicly scrutinized.

    But as you so often do, Grayson, you make it personal. You don’t know Brian, you don’t know the backstory on how this story got in the paper, or anything else for that matter. Brian’s a veteran reporter who has covered the immigration issue in Georgia (and beyond) about as fairly as anyone I’ve seen nationwide.

    I’ll sit here and wait for you to insult me now. We’re all used to it.

  8. MediaGuyAtl says:

    Last year, I took a leak, at the urinals of the Mandalay Bay next to Dan Rather. The pee was real before it was proved fake by a blogger. Should I alert the AJC assignment desk?

  9. Rogue109 says:

    I’ll sit here and wait for you to insult me now. We’re all used to it.

    HA! Wasn’t SpaceyG supposed to come back all relaxed and happy from her vacation?

  10. boyreporter says:

    MediaGuy: Do what? Hey, rewrite! Besides the obfuscatory exposition, the central point is false. Dan Rather’s documents on which he based his story on GW were never proved false. And the allegations that the copies of military documents supported were never rebutted as to factuality. Even the sh**thead Atlanta blogger who alerted everyone about the font problems was proved wrong as old typewriters and fonts were located, showing they were available in the relevant time period. But by then, it was all over. Rather’s problem was that he didn’t have the originals; it was never a question of fraudulent documents, though rightwingers keep saying otherwise.

  11. boyreporter says:

    Travis: You got as insultingly personal as you think Spaceyg did. She did hit a bit hard, but her major point is right: the AJC is short on editing and heavy on meaningless lifestyle pieces, and this was an perfect example of both deficiencies.

  12. Rogue109 says:

    Even the sh**thead Atlanta blogger who alerted everyone about the font problems was proved wrong as old typewriters and fonts were located, showing they were available in the relevant time period.

    Really? Can you give us a URL to check out concerning that? Because that must have been an incredible typewriter that could exactly mimic the production value from a copy of MS Word.

    Not saying you are wrong but would like to read more about that…

  13. boyreporter says:

    JSM: you read the papers?
    Rogue: ditto

    It’s been all over the place in follow-ups. I don’t collect.

  14. Romegaguy says:

    I am sorry but what does this posting have to do with Insider Advantage or the Georgia Gang? We expect so much more from you Space Cadet G

  15. Rogue109 says:

    It’s been all over the place in follow-ups. I don’t collect.

    No, it hasn’t. The papers were faked and the story was false.

  16. Carpe Forem says:

    I see a new sitcom being pitched from this story: Two girls show up as freshmen at college. One is a black girl, the other a white lesbian. The lesbian’s mother is a racist and the black girl’s mother is a biggot. Both mothers are recently divorced and are forced, due to finances, to move in with their daughters in off campus housing. Mark my word… “Must see TV.”
    First season cameos… Oprah, Ellan DeGeneres and angry Aunt Rosie O’Donnell and uncle Rupaul.

    See, I can right crap too.

  17. Carpe Forem says:

    Oh! I left out… their common hatred of guns and smokers make them, one happy family… freeze frame.

    My point (I’m sure, I failed at presenting it, therefore I must state it) is that forced social engineering puff pieces like this does no one any good; not the people they’re trying to enlighten, nor the people who “I recognized racism, therefore I’m not a racist and can feel better about myself.” No one.

  18. MediaGuyAtl says:

    I think I struck a nerve with boyreporter. Relax! Your guy is probably going to settle his lawsuit with CBS News and make a nice chunk of change. But I would like to know who your sources are. Even Danny Boy admitted he was tired due to covering a hurricane. Come on Boyreporter admit it, CBS News tried to effect the outcome of an election with a bogus report about a candidate.

  19. I hope Brian Feagans starts compiling idiotic and poorly-written Peach Pundit posts and printing them in the AJC for our amusement.

    That could fill up the whole paper on a slow news day.

    It would be an improvement, for sure.

  20. I hope Brian Feagans starts compiling idiotic and poorly-written Peach Pundit posts and printing them in the AJC for our amusement.

    That could fill up the whole paper on a slow news day.

    It would be an improvement, for sure.

  21. boyreporter says:

    Rogue and MediaGuy: News stories from the beginning…CBS’ internal investigation that led to firings…follow-ups about Dan’s lawsuit…in ALL of them, you will see NO reference to fraud, just carelessness, reliance on copies of alleged documents, but NOT ONE proven example of manufacture. But Hannity, you guys and all the rest of the benighted bloggosphere WANT there to have been outright fraud, so you refer to “fake” documents, when actually the truth is that they were “unverified” — that is, they could not be fully vouched for. That is a far cry from fake. But simple minds…you need that bumper sticker solution.

  22. boyreporter says:

    Oh, and as for simple truth: Bush never denied the central point of the story: absenteeism and favoritism. CBS screwed up in presentation and in relying on documents that could not be fully verified. They’re to blame. But no-one has shown they made anything up.

  23. Donkey Kong says:

    EAVDad,

    Since Spacey has spaced out, I’d be happy to insult you in Spacey’s stead.

    Kidding.

    No seriously. You deserve respect for getting out of journalism — where “just the facts” journalism has become “there’s no such thing as just the facts everyone has their own facts therefore we only report opinion” journalism.

    i.e.
    boyreporter – “Unsubstantiated claim”
    blogger – “Please provide us with sources”
    boyreporter – “Restates unsubstantiated claim, this time with occasional all caps to emphasize the passion of said unsubstantiated claim”

    Boyreporter — do you work for The New Republic?

  24. boyreporter says:

    Do you realize your online name rhymes with wrong?

    Hey, your mom’s calling down to you in the basement: Time for your Ovaltine.

  25. Rogue109 says:

    boyreporter:

    News stories from the beginning…

    Of which you can cite a total of zero.

    …CBS’ internal investigation that led to firings…follow-ups about Dan’s lawsuit…in ALL of them, you will see NO reference to fraud, just carelessness, reliance on copies of alleged documents, but NOT ONE proven example of manufacture.

    Wow, you mean CBS’ investigation showed no fraud, only carelessness? That couldn’t be because it would be totally foolish for CBS to dig up fraudulent information about CBS which would help people sue CBS, could it? And I’m not sure I’ve even alleged fraud, anyway! What happened was indeed extreme carelessness where Rather ignored the facts and raised up the allegation as the proof. What he did bring to the table was “evidence” of a highly dubious nature.

    But Hannity, you guys and all the rest of the benighted bloggosphere WANT there to have been outright fraud, so you refer to “fake” documents, when actually the truth is that they were “unverified”

    Oh, so you now admit that the documents have no legitimate verification?

    Here’s what I see:

    *LTC Killian’s own son doesn’t believe the documents are valid and the ONLY machine which would have come close to duplicating the font would not have been in the office of a military officer due to its size and sophistication.
    (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/10/politics/campaign/10guard.html?_r=1&oref=slogin)

    *A goodly number of experts in the field believe the documents came from a Times New Roman font on MS Word (or equivalent word processing program).
    (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/596astgo.asp)

    * The content of these alleged memos contradict a memo written seven days later which said that “Lt. Bush is an exceptional fighter interceptor pilot and officer[.]”
    (http://www.nationalreview.com/york/york200409100809.asp)

    * The provider of the documents, Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, claims to have burned the originals after faxing copies to CBS. WHAT?!?!
    (http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/president/2004-09-21-cover-guard_x.htm)

    * In the end, just check out this .gif for a comparison of the documents:
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Killian_memos_MSWord_animated.gif)

    Does all of this mean anything? Well, the problem is that the original documents were destroyed RIGHT AFTER they were sent to CBS (uh….right.), but the weight of evidence points to the position that the documents are not legitimate.

    Clearly, you refuse to abandon your position until you see the original documents. You are the type of guy that, if you were in a jury, would only convict the defendant if there was a video of the alleged crime where the perp was seen, followed by his confession on the stand.

    No doubt you also believe Georgia Bush, Sr. flew in an SR-71 to meet with Iran during the Embassy Hostage Crisis and that Building 7 of the WTC was brought down by the government. Why? Because it has never been disproven. And since, for example, we can’t fly you personally to the moon to see the Project Apollo landing sites, you still believe we never visited there, either!

    No, there is not 100% proof for either side. But common sense and logic demonstrate that the whole episode was a bunch of hooey.

    I’m done with this thread; you get the last word if you want one. Later!

  26. SpaceyG says:

    Man, I soooo missed all the fun here yesterday! Sorry ’bout that, but I had to go get a facial. You know me! Besides, re-hashing Dan’s demise bores me to tears. Bad for my complexion. And I just hate it, hate it, hate it, stamping high heel now, when y’all run all off-topic like that.

    BTW, reason I can’t hang-out all day long on PP and personally insult each and every little impotent cartoon creature lurking about is that I’m working on my latest book: Perform At Peak: How To Look Your Absolute Best While Personally Insulting Illiterate Goons In The Blogosphere. Insert smiley face here.

    Gotta go. I’ve also volunteered to do video for Cobb County Commissioner Annette Kesting. Whew! I’m a busy gal. Vacation, feh. Just a blur now.

  27. boyreporter says:

    One more time, Rogue: (click off if you wish) I must point out again that ALL of the stuff you mentioned is not evidence of fraud. And I already mentioned that CBS rushed to air and screwed up. The screwed up. There is no evidence — or even a credible assertion — that the newtwork made anything up, nor that the people who gave them the copies of documents. They screwed up, and are paying a price. Why isn’t that good enough for you?

  28. In the loop says:

    Guess what? The ludicrous and laughable Michelle Obama roomate story (remember what we were originally talking about?) is the most-read story on AJC.com.

    Does that mean: A) Most people are stupid and like stupid stories, or B) The AJC’s editors know what their readers want better than the Peach Pundit peanut gallery?

    I’ll say a little of both.

  29. EAVDad says:

    Well, if we assigned importance to what was most popular on the web, then Britney Spears would be President!

  30. jsm says:

    And I just hate it, hate it, hate it, stamping high heel now, when y’all run all off-topic like that.

    Thank the boy for posting unsubstantiated crap.

  31. Rogue109 says:

    I must point out again that ALL of the stuff you mentioned is not evidence of fraud.

    And I’m not disagreeing! I even said that in my last post! I’m just saying the story is not true, not that Dan Rather is evil.

    Friends (grin)?

  32. boyreporter says:

    I know you’re getting tired of this, so I’ll quit. But there is ample evidence that the story IS true. Nothing was made up. Even Bush (again) and his supporters have not disagreed with the truth of the allegations.

  33. Judging by my blog stats and by what I’m seeing here, the ludicrous story is being read because we linked to it.

    That doesn’t mean it’s a good story. Or that people like it.

  34. EAVDad says:

    Tania…hate to burst your bubble, but your blog and peach pundit couldn’t make a blip on the AJC’s “most viewed” radar. Usually, the stories at the top of the most viewed list have been seen 25,000 times a day at least.

  35. jkga says:

    EAVDad – you’re right. I first saw the AJC story through a link on reddit.com.

    As far as the Dan Rather business – my favorite theory is that the particular documents in question were fake, but they were given to CBS by a pro-Bush operative with the intent that they would be proven fake, to discredit any and all further legitimate inquiry into the Bush national guard stories. (A side-effect, intended or not, was that 60 minutes did not run the exposé they had planned to run on the Iraq-Niger-uranium story.)

  36. boyreporter says:

    Yes, jkga, they were fake…except Batman forgot to tell Robin, and, well, the rest is history. This is getting ridiculous. Oh…too late for that? I see. Bye now.

  37. bowersville says:

    BR is channeling or cloning Spacey and dreaming Tania.

    Tapping heals!!!!

    I want to point out insert emotional garbage here.

  38. boyreporter says:

    Debate? Why wasn’t I told? They always do that to us in the special classes. I was told this was a project to root out stupid, crude, ignorant people. Oh, wait. It was. Thanks, Bill. Now I get an A.

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