News Top Tens
Top 10 Austin Media Moments1) Statesman Manufactures a Crisis: BARTON SPRINGS IS BEING POISONED! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! AAAUUGGGHHH!!!! Or maybe not. In typical Statesman fashion, the local daily 1) finds a scandal where, in fact, there is none; 2) issues stern and condescending editorial reprimands to the citizenry; and 3) is stunned when the citizenry replies, "Bullshit." Yes, Virginia, Barton Springs is endangered. But despite the daily's hysterical shrieking, it is not a Superfund site, and the pollution does not come from phantom coal gasification dumps.
2) Police to Press: Don't Watch Us Work: When a nonviolent anti-war crowd occupying the Congress Avenue Bridge on March 20 responded to a dispersal order slower than the riot squad liked, out came the pepper spray. Not only did the spray go into a line of protesters -- who were passively backing away when the blast came -- it also went directly into a group of what were very obviously news media, bright TV camera lights and all. At press time, The Austin Chronicle is still discussing the incident with the city police monitor.
3) Fox News Fauxs Up: When Austin entrepreneurs Agitproperties.com ridiculed the "Fair & Balanced" network's logo with a T-shirt reading "Faux News: We Distort, You Comply," the humorless bunch of conservatives apparently forgot basic First Amendment law and threatened to sue for breach of copyright (numerous times, the courts have ruled that parody is protected speech). After a similar suit against comedian Al Franken got laughed out of court, Fox apparently decided not to pursue this case.
4) Texas Lege Makes The Daily Show: OK, the Lege made all the national news outlets with its antics over redistricting, but nothing tops spotlight attention from Comedy Central's Jon Stewart and his team of fake reporters. After saying the story of Texas Democrats fleeing the state "couldn't be more pathetic," Stewart cut to a clip of House Speaker Tom Craddick saying, "We've found them at the Denny's at the Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma." Stewart replied, "I stand corrected."
5) Statesman Manufactures a Crisis (Again): This time, it was the revelation that political consultant Mike Blizzard's campaign to stop Endeavor Real Estate Group's plans for a Wal-Mart over the aquifer was funded by Stratus Properties, an Endeavor competitor with plans for an HEB nearby. Displaying its usual failure to grasp basic city politics, the Statesman charged that Blizzard had a legal obligation to register as a lobbyist (incorrect), and was shocked ... shocked! ... to discover a big corporation using money to influence local political decisions. Which, of course, the pure and noble Statesman has never done.
6) Bob Cole Bashes the United Way: When the Boy Scouts of America and the United Way decided they had irrevocable differences over gay acceptance (BSA doesn't allow it, UW has a nondiscrimination policy) and mutually parted ways, the KVET conservative shot from the hip, as usual: He put all blame on the United Way and "outside pressure groups," whom he compared to terrorists, and called on listeners to cease making donations to the United Way. (But let's give Cole his props: He saved the Tavern. Yay!)
7) Conservatives Get Tangled in the Web: First, the Texas Citizens Action Network sent out an e-mail alert warning that the liberal Web site MoveOn.org was really "the activist arm of the Communist Party USA" -- based solely on a Web link from the latter to the former. Then, TxCAN -- a close ally of Gov. Rick Perry -- tried to cow Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn for insufficient obedience to the guv. After a statement excoriating Strayhorn, a TxCAN Web poll asked, "Do You Agree With Comptroller Strayhorn's Inter-Leadership Attacks on Governor Perry?" Out of 577 respondents, 82% said yes. Oops.
8) The Chronicle Bails on Right-Wing Radio: We tried for 25 weeks to talk some sense into right-wingers on their own turf -- Talk Radio 1370. It was a bigger task than even we expected. Chronicle Editor Louis Black finally ended the show, complaining, "My interior dialogue (writing, running, or just daydreaming) centered more and more around 1370AM and right-wing arguments." (Um, OK Louis, if you want to blame the voices in your head on conservatives.)
9) Maggio Jumps to KEYE: Hell may have frozen over: Local TV news icon Judy Maggio ended her 21-year employment with KVUE and jumped ship to KEYE. Now, if you're Austin old-timers like us, you probably still haven't adjusted to CBS and Fox swapping channels 7 and 42; now we have to remember that the station with Maggio and Fred Cantu is 42, not 24. We're getting dizzy.
10) Statesman Bores Us With Blogs: As if the print version of Dave McNeely's column wasn't already putting us to sleep.