in Austin and National Media 1. Missing Persons. Tired of reading about Ron "impostor on the roster" Weaver? So are we. But at least we are all being truthful about our pasts now, right? Wrong. The Statesman's January 7 bio of Oliver Revell, the former FBI assistant director hired to investigate the ex-UT football player's whereabouts, neglected any mention of his close relationship with Oliver North, his subsequent testimony at the Iran/Contra hearings, or his approval of surveillance of U.S. citizens opposed to the Reagan presidency. If this is the hidden identity you are more interested in learning about, read Ross Gelbspan's Break-ins, Death Threats & the FBI.
2. Dumb and Dumber. Having emerged as the city's second most-watched news team in the November Nielsens, the crew at K-EYE are beginning to set the tone for Austin news coverage. Too bad. We had always assumed intelligent Austin viewers were above the kind of dumb-downed approach the folks at this station have consistently brought to the local airwaves. No, the viewers have spoken and this is apparently what a lot of them want.
3. What You Can't See... On November 20, the Statesman editorialized against a commercial produced by P-FLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) that deplored intolerance and the potential to spark hate crimes. When queried by a Chronicle staffer, a member of the paper's editorial board could not confirm that the person writing the piece had ever viewed the spot in question.
4. Spineless Broadcasting. On December 23, National Public Radio (NPR) issued an apology on behalf of Andrei Codrescu for a satiric commentary regarding the Rapture, a commentary that apparently offended Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed. Not only did NPR lack the backbone to stand up to Reed's complaints, they didn't have the stomach for Codrescu either. According to the Detroit Metro News, the popular commentator was unaware the network was putting his name on an apology until after the statement had aired, when he was contacted about the matter by several news organizations. Says Codrescu: "NPR pulled a fast one on me and apologized on my behalf for the content when they shouldn't have."
5. Completely Undiluted. The Statesman's January 9 report about the low-flush versus no-flush urinal controversy at the new Austin airport was the paper's most entertaining story in months. We particularly loved the phrase about trial usage of such toilets at UT, where five waterless urinals are "sprinkled across campus."
6. Checkbook Journalism. Sunday morning mainstay David Brinkley recently ventured into the print world, writing an essay about the "twisted" logic of a federal tax code ostensibly aimed at "soaking the rich." The article was commissioned (and paid for) by Rising Tide, a glossy mag published by the Republican National Committee. We're glad that he has such a strong opinion on this matter. Unfortunately, now that Brinkley's shilling his viewpoints to the GOP for so much meal money, it's hard to be too confident of his ability at objective analysis. -- Hugh Forrest