News Top 10s
Top 10 Media Moments1. They never spoke Spanish to us -- until now: Although the immediate political effect was slim, the symbolic reverberations are immense -- Tony Sanchez and Dan Morales took part in the first Spanish-language gubernatorial debate in Texas history. The GOP took nativist potshots, and even Morales crawfished (that's Cajun-Tex for "dithered") over whether he'd pit his classroom Spanish against Sanchez's border bilingualism. But guess what: The Republic did not flounder, the candidates proved they could be nonresponsive in two languages -- and a primary Tejano culture made its grandest political debut.
2. Death of George Christian: LBJ's former press secretary was the public face of the administration during the worst of the Vietnam War, and he impacted the course of American history by being one of those who counseled Johnson not to run for re-election. For decades afterward, he was always good for a trenchant quote for Austin's Capitol reporters.
3. Daugherty walks out on KVUE: Postelection, newly elected Travis Co. Commissioner Gerald Daugherty promised to play nice with others, but a pre-election interview with KVUE-TV didn't bode well. Daugherty, upset at some legitimate questions about the multiple tax liens that have been placed against his property, declared the interview "a hatchet job," yanked off his microphone, and stormed out, all on camera.
4. Shoot first, fact-check later: Urging voters to toss out state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, Statesman editor Rich Oppel "reported" that our local House representatives called a meeting with the Statesman four years ago to complain about Barrientos. The reps told the Chronicle something quite different -- that they called the meeting to complain about the Statesman, not Barrientos. "It was a Statesman-bashing meeting," said Dist. 51 Rep. Glen Maxey. "We were pointing out the Statesman's piss-poor coverage of the House."
5. KEYE "Investigates": We've always wished local TV news would kill the fluff and do some investigative reporting. After watching KEYE's Nanci Wilson this year, we take it back. On one report, Wilson was scandalized that Austin's City Council was the highest-paid in Texas. The possibility that other cities pay their elected officials too little apparently never occurred to her -- after all, in her words, "all they do is make policy." On another report, she discovered that, shockers, the city pays lobbyists to work the Lege! And they get paid even when the Lege isn't in session! May we suggest a Government 101 course for Ms. Wilson?
6. Meet the new talk, same as the old talk: After more than a year without competition, the conservative KLBJ-AM finally acquired two local rivals in the talk-radio world. Not surprisingly, they reside at the right end of the dial, literally and figuratively. KWNX (1260AM) is a little more local, with longtime Austin fixtures like Paul Pryor, Alex Jones, and meteorologist Bill Hecke; TalkRadio 1370 (KJCE) is Republican Central, except for Friday nights, 6-7pm, when they let us Chronicle communists, uh, columnists on to chat.
7. News of the first class? The new KUT news division has initially fallen short of admittedly high expectations, sounding sometimes more like student journalists than professionals prepping for that step up to the NPR national desk. But you know what? They're already the best local news on radio right now, as the rip-and-read hourly updates on KLBJ-AM provide a pretty low standard to hurdle. Two cheers, and keep at it ...
8. Jack and me: We called GOP House Dist. 50 candidate Jack Stick's campaign office to find out where his election night party would be. Stick's receptionist: "The party will be at J.C.'s, which is at --" Voice in the background cuts him off: "Who is that?" Receptionist: "The Austin Chronicle." Voice: "Don't tell them anything!!!" After his election, Stick promised that the media could expect "an open relationship based on mutual respect."
9. KOOP catches hives -- again: Like a persistent rash, KOOP just keeps flaring up. The would-be Trotskyists continue to be purged by the wannabe Chiapatistas -- or maybe it's the other way round -- as the "cooperative" station moves ever closer to ideological purity and public irrelevance. On the other hand, the music's still great: Can't we all just get along?
10. No threat to Nightline, either: City Council members have gotten regular media gigs before, but since Daryl Slusher is, at least in theory, a journalist by profession, his one-hour talk spot on the city's Channel 6 promised to have some media significance. During the Stratus debate, though, it simply became an extension of Slusher's own lengthy pro-deal expositions on the dais. Otherwise, it's a snoozer ...