Category Archives: Media

Lee Anderson, veteran Chattanooga newspaperman, dies at age 90

Lee Stratton Anderson, former publisher of the Chattanooga Free Press and one of the longest-serving newspapermen in the nation, died in Atlanta early this morning at age 90, reports the Times-Free Press.

Anderson was a widely known and respected conservative voice, patriot, Christian and civic leader.

Anderson was “a true gentlemen and a great newspaperman,” said Walter E. Hussman Jr., publisher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press and chairman of WEHCO Media.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of an exceptional Tennessean and a Chattanooga icon,” said U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said in a statement. “Lee Anderson’s impact on our city through his many roles at the paper, his civic service, and his passion for serving others, cannot be overstated. I am fortunate to have known him most of my adult life and will miss him dearly. My thoughts and prayers are with the Anderson family, his former colleagues at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and all those across our city and state who were touched by his life.”

Hussman bought the Free Press from the McDonald family in 1998, but he met Anderson years before that. They got to know each other at gatherings such as the Southern Newspapers Publishers Association’s annual convention.

“Everybody in the industry thought so highly of him,” Hussman said.

…U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who also knew Anderson for decades, noted he “never knew a more principled or hardworking newspaper man than Lee Anderson.”

Alexander noted Anderson was in his newspaper office at 400 E. 11th Street between 4:30 and 5 a.m. “pounding out conservative editorials,” he said in a statement.

Anderson “was unfailingly polite and professional. It was a privilege to know him and to read his tightly written opinions. He made an enormous contribution to Chattanooga and to Tennessee.”

Anderson began a 70-year career at the Chattanooga Free Press at age 16 when World War II had decimated the newsroom’s staff. Over the years he wrote feature stories and worked every news beat — from police to business to courts — before covering the Tennessee Legislature and politics at all levels of government, including five national presidential conventions.

Though he was named editor in April 1958, Anderson had been writing many of the editorials since 1948. In addition to being the editorial voice of the newspaper, he was, in effect, the managing editor, directing news coverage for decades through a cadre of departmental editors.

Starrett radio ad bashes DesJarlais for bashing talk radio host

Republican congressional candidate Grant Starrett has begun airing a radio ad that says his opponent, incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, recently insulted nationally syndicated conservative talk radio host Mark Levin, reports the Times-Free Press.

The campaign’s 60-second ad began running Wednesday evening on Chattanooga’s WGOW and Nashville’s WWTN, according to Starrett’s campaign. Starrett, an attorney, is challenging three-term incumbent DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg physician, in the 4th Congressional District’s Aug. 4 Republican primary.

His ad features a recording of DesJarlais criticizing both Levin and talk show radio host and blogger Erik Erikson at what the campaign says was a Lincoln County GOP meeting earlier this month. Levin has been critical of DesJarlais in the past while Erikson, former editor-in-chief of the Red State blog, has endorsed Starrett in his challenge to the congressman.

“You listen to conservative Mark Levin every day,” says a female announcer in the spot. “Would Mark Levin betray your principles at any price? Here’s what Scott DesJarlais thinks about about Mark Levin.”

The ad switches to a recording of DesJarlais saying “there’s bought and paid for political conservatives as well, Mark Levin apparently is one, I think Erick Erikson is another, and so I think they can be sold to the highest bidder.”

The female announcer’s voice resumes, asking, “Mark Levin, bought and paid for?” The announcer later goes on to ask “Who is Scott DesJarlais to question Mark Levin’s conservative principles?”

The ad then charges DesJarlais “voted for $700 billion in Obama’s food stamps, failed to hold abortion providers accountable and voted with Obama to cut our military.

“You’ve been betrayed by Scott DesJarlais,” the announcer charges.

In a statement, DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson, who did not address the ad’s citing of the congressman’s criticisms of Levin, called Starrett “a 28-year old trust fund kid from California who just moved to the Fourth District and has absolutely no ties to the community. He has nothing to run on, an inability to tell the truth and establishment views that do not align with the district he just moved into.”

Note: The Starrett campaign news release, including transcript, is below. Continue reading

Some legislators unhappy over leaked bathroom emails

From a Tennessean story following up on last week’s report of email exchanges between House Republican Caucus members on whether to hold a special legislative session in response a federal directive on transgender bathroom use in schools:

An ongoing discussion about leaked emails between House Republican lawmakers has led one member to say whoever provided them to the media has betrayed their own party, another to suggest a colleague should “grow up” and a third to raise the possibility of asking the attorney general to look into the matter.

On Monday, Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, sent out an email to the House Republican Caucus asking “whoever released our email discussion of whether or not to hold a special session” to out themselves. Continue reading

Durham files criminal trespass charge against journalist

Embattled state Rep. Jeremy Durham has brought criminal trespass charges against Nashville Scene reporter Cari Wade Gervin, contending she tried to enter his Franklin home while seeking an interview.

In an affidavit, the Republican lawmaker contends Gervin on Tuesday evening “attempted to enter the residence over multiple objections and demands” from Durham and his wife, Jessica, that she leave.

“The Durhams were able to physically prevent Ms. Gervin’s body from completely entering the residence. However, Ms. Gervin then placed her foot in the doorway, preventing the door from closing,” says the affidavit, posted by former state Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, on his Facebook page.

When the door was subsequently closed, the affidavit says, Gervin “remained in the front yard of the property for another 5-10 minutes.” Continue reading

Durham calls police on reporter seeking interview at his home

State Rep. Jeremy Durham summoned police to his Franklin home after Nashville Scene reporter Cari Wade Gervin tied to interview him there Tuesday evening about his campaign finance disclosures — and he apparently suggested to the officers that she should face criminal trespassing charges.

Excerpt from the Scene’s story:

Gervin had driven to Durham’s house to attempt to ask the former House majority whip three questions about his most recent filing. Earlier on Tuesday, Durham had not returned two phone calls and had replied to her first-ever text to him, “Please don’t text me anymore.” When Gervin rang the doorbell of Durham’s residence shortly after 8 p.m. and subsequently introduced herself, the representative screamed at her to leave his property and tried to grab her cell phone out of her hand. Soon after, because Gervin had momentarily partially stepped onto his threshold during the altercation, Durham called the police to report that she was “criminally trespassing.”

Three officers from the Franklin Police Department responded to the scene and interviewed Durham and his wife inside their home and Gervin on the public street where she was by then standing. An audio recording of the incident provided by Gervin shows a tense scene in the street.

“According to the two witnesses here, you tried to cross a threshold without being invited. That’s criminal trespass,” said Sgt. Todd Stamper.

Less than a minute later, Officer Shawn Finn asked, “Here’s the thing, alright? Do — really — do you want to go to jail for harassment?”

At that point, Gervin questioned if the officers were threatening to arrest her.

“Here’s the situation. I’ve got two witnesses that said you tried to cross the threshold of a house uninvited,” Stamper said. “By state law, that is criminal trespass. Doesn’t matter if you’re a journalist, doesn’t matter if he’s a public official. Does not matter.”

After about 15 minutes, the police made the determination to make an official investigation into the event. As of the time of publication, it was unclear whether charges would be issued.

On the passing of Larry Daughtrey

On a professional level, a line in Keel Hunt’s fine tribute to Larry Daughtrey stands out as precisely correct: He wielded a sharp pen with clarity and grace.

The man was a marvelous writer. (Keel includes a couple of samples in his tribute, a recommended read.) And as often stated, he was “a reporter’s reporter,” carefully cultivating people as sources and acquiring vast political knowledge by being an astute listener and voracious reader of anything related to politics, including obscure and arcane stuff few others noticed. He shared other reporters’ disdain of some less astute individuals serving, typically, as middle-level editors. (In the old days, we called them “droolers” – short for drooling idiots.)

Again as Keel notes, he was a mentor to other reporters – including yours truly, even though we were competitors on occasion when I first met him after moving back to Tennessee in late 1976, initially working for UPI and later for the News-Sentinel. (I would disagree with the lead in The Tennessean’s main obituary story that Larry “always broke the story first.” Not always; just very often.) Back then, when newspapers competed more than they collaborated, reporters would nonetheless sit down over a beer or at lunch after the dust had settled on some big-news brouhaha and compare notes and jokes. Learned a lot from Larry in such sessions.
Continue reading

State subsidies not enough to save ‘Nashville’ from ABC ax

The ABC television drama “Nashville” will not be renewed for a fifth season despite allocation of another $8 million in incentive money including in the state budget for the coming year.

From The Tennessean:

The show’s production reshuffled its creative team and negotiated in principal a lucrative government incentive package in making its sales pitch for renewal to ABC. But inconsistent ratings plagued the program, a fictionalized drama on the local music industry and city politics.

Still, “Nashville” made its mark on the local economy.

Tourism leaders say “Nashville” lured visitors from around the globe. The Bluebird Café, which was a regular setting for the show, enjoyed sell-outs and long, winding lines of fans hoping to gain a seat.

“We are incredibly disappointed to hear the news that ABC has not renewed the show ‘Nashville’ for another season,” Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said in a written statement. “The show has been an enormously successful promotional tool for our city, which is why the state of Tennessee and Metro Nashville were prepared to support production for a fifth season to be filmed here.

“This is a loss for ABC and for the millions of fans across the world who have grown to love this show. We have enjoyed hosting the cast and crew of the show over the last four years and look forward to future opportunities for film and television production here in Nashville.”

…In four years of production, “Nashville” brought in $45.65 million in incentives, mostly from the state. The state and Metro justified the incentives because they viewed “Nashville” as an hour-long commercial for visiting the city.

In that way, the show influenced the incentive strategy for film work, with a new focus on productions that might help boost tourism.

“The state has supported the show, and we believe it was an excellent marketing vehicle for Tennessee,” said Bob Raines, executive director for the Tennessee Entertainment Commission. “The show had a great run, and it will live on through syndication and streaming services for people all over the world to enjoy. The show also leaves a terrific musical legacy that fans can continue to enjoy and associate with Tennessee and the city.”

Veteran TN political reporter Larry Daughtrey dies, age 76

Larry Daughtrey, who reported on Tennessee politics for almost four decades, died Thursday at age 76 following complications from lung disease, according to The Tennessean, the newspaper where he worked most of those years.

Mr. Daughtrey worked as a political reporter at The Tennessean from 1962 to 1997, helping solidify the newspaper’s reputation for crusading journalism while becoming a mentor for dozens of young reporters. He converted to writing a political column for the newspaper after his retirement.

Former Tennessean editor Frank Sutherland, who oversaw the paper during part of Mr. Daughtrey’s tenure, called Mr. Daughtrey a writer of consummate detail, one whose attention to the craft of writing was as respected as his dedication to fairness.

“Larry Daughtrey was a great reporter because he had the best sources of anyone on Capitol Hill,” Sutherland said. “He had the flair of language to tell the stories he had researched.

“His kind of reporting will be missed.”

Mr. Daughtrey, a native of Texas and graduate of Vanderbilt University, was respected on both sides of the political aisle for being tough, but truthful, Sutherland said. Inside The Tennessean, Mr. Daughtrey was a source for the right adjective and the definitive sources.

Daughtrey’s first major contribution came shortly came as a young reporter in 1962, when he was part of a Tennessean investigation that reported on voting fraud that led to the election of Richard Fulton to Congress. He would go on to cover state politics that spanned eight governors, from Frank Clement, the rise of Ned McWherter, to Phil Bredesen.

He also held the distinction of covering every presidential convention from 1964 to 2000.

“It brings me great sadness to hear of the passing of my good friend and former colleague Larry Daughtrey,” former Vice President Al Gore, a colleague of Daughtrey at The Tennessean, said in a written statement. “Larry’s devotion as a reporter, as well as his ability to understand and explain the complex political issues of our time, remain unmatched.

“His work commanded the highest respect from both sides of the aisle and his voice of reason will be missed. My heart goes out to his wife Judge Cissy Daughtrey, daughter Carran and their family.”

Ken Whitehouse goes to work for Nashville DA

Ken Whitehouse, a former journalist and political operative who most recently worked for public relations firm DVL Seigenthaler, has been named director of research and media relations for Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk, according to the Tennessean.

Whitehouse makes $79,000 annually in the new position and started work Monday.

Whitehouse said he will work with media organizations and do research on how to help reduce recidivism in Nashville. Current spokeswoman Dorinda Carter will become the office’s primary contact for community groups, victim’s rights groups and other organizations. Carter earns about $85,000 annually, according to state salary data.

“I am excited to have someone with Ken’s experience, depth of knowledge and respect in the community join our staff as we continue to make Nashville a healthy and safer place to live,” Funk said Tuesday in a statement. “He and Dorinda will make a great team as they share the efforts and initiatives of this office throughout the city.”

Religious counseling bill could offset $8M subsidy of ‘Nashville’ TV show?

Gov. Bill Haslam included $8 million in the coming year’s state budget to subsidize the TV show “Nashville” (previous post HERE) and it was approved by the Legislature. Now, a Fox News entertainment writer is speculating that Haslam’s signature on a bill allowing therapists to refuse counseling to persons based on sexual orientation could lead to cancellation of the series.

ABC’s Nashville has received deserved praise for its handling of Will Lexington’s (Chris Carmack) struggles with his sexuality, and his whole coming out storyline. But now, some of the show’s stars find themselves in the middle of a real-life battle over a recently-passed Tennessee law that discriminates against LGBT people.

House Bill 1840, which Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law this week, gives therapists and other mental health professionals the right to refuse to treat patients whose lifestyles go against the professional’s “sincerely held principals.”

When the bill was still under review, Nashville star Connie Britton spoke out against it, telling The Hollywood Reporter: “I shoot a TV show in Tennessee, and honestly, if they proceed with this, I’m not necessarily going to feel comfortable working there. That is a tricky situation because of course we employ a lot of people in the state, and you certainly don’t want to have to interrupt that, but at the same time, this is the only way that we can have our voices be heard.”

Added Carmack — who, according to THR, is reconsidering buying property in Nashville because of the law: “We said, ‘Do we want to live in a place like this?’ … I guarantee you that there are many more individuals like myself and my fiance who are potential long-term transplants from all over, who are saying, ‘Is this a place I would want to call home, a place that would write this sort of thing into legislation?'”

A “tricky situation,” indeed. ABC has yet to renew Nashville for a fifth season, but if it does, Carmack and Britton’s comments beg the question: does the show’s cast and crew have a responsibility to put their money where their mouths are, so to speak, and refuse to shoot in the state? Certainly Britton’s comments, more so than Carmack’s, will be perceived as an empty threat if the show continues to film there. Perhaps rather than pulling production from the state, the cast and crew of Nashville can use their influence to raise awareness and money for LGBT rights issues, and fight the good fight from within.

On the other hand, if ABC isn’t planning to renew Nashville, this could be a nice opportunity for the network to put an activist label on its decision. Particularly because it would be difficult if not impossible for the show to relocate elsewhere, since so many scenes are tied to actual Nashville hotspots, including the Bluebird Caf and the Grand Ole Opry — not to mention the local musicians who provide much of the show’s music.

Note: Post on Haslam signing the bill is HERE.