Under The APS Investigation Atlanta Media Circus Tent


As I’ve died and gone to Atlanta media circus heaven lately it’s been hard to break away to play ringmaster by providing the necessary, critical blog posts. Facebooking and Twitter alone are about to do me in.

Honestly, I’ve been having too much fun sitting back with my peanuts and cotton candy watching from here in the cheap seats. But someone’s gotta play local TV news farm media critic in this town, other than @RichardsDoug; and there is, of course, no one better qualified to do so than me.

Thus, let me take a moment to pry open the laptop and reflect on just last night’s Atlanta local TV media hightlights and lowlights before I go back in for more. (Thank goodness for that new, 4-5pm block from Channel 2, eh?)

Last night WSB-TV, or WizBee or Death Star Two as it’s called in the biz around here, was on disjointed fire! When they open a 6pm with longtime, hysterical crime reporter Mark Winne (his Facebook fan page is here) rest assured we’re going to be served drama.

The local TV news station that can’t do ’em some news drama, in a city as ragingly dysfunctional as Atlanta, is just dead to me. Otherwise, why bother to exist? Anyway… getting to the point.

Winne led-off with pretty good shrieking over the hilariously mule-headed refusals by a few implicated (now kinda sorta fired) APS school administrators to… go down without a public fight. I think they were bellowing for a publicized *hearing*, whatever the heck that is. Good luck with that tall order.

The best part was a replay of Winne grilling, weeks ago, one of the most mule-headed APS admins fingered in the whole royal cheating mess, Tamara Cotman.

Low and behold, Cotman was, once again, right up in our living rooms. Still looking slouched down and bloated from all the investigatory stress and educator cake she’s been consuming over the years, defensive and sliding down a slippery conference room leather chair slope of no-where-else-to-go prayer.

Cotman was posed in the classic ATL local TV media perp tableau – lawyer on one side, Mark Winne leaning in with a question on the other. Talk about media places you never want to be seen in this town.

Bless her tired, stressed, cake-laden heart. I almost felt sorry for her, as, so far, Jesus has yet to come to her emotional or otherwise rescue. Maybe next year. Keep those prayers and cards and letter coming, Atlanta!

Then Monica Kaufman Pearson Kaufman, Atlanta’s longtime news reader with the lively hairdos and the hay for brains, reported in from her Bev Hall-tagging Maui boondoggle with… an apology! For going all the way across the Pacific to, like, do her job and stuff.

She actually apologized to sad sack Doc Hall, on sneaky cam, for attempting to commit journalism on her. I think I may have rolled onto the peanut-strewn floor and howled at that point. Never, EVER, Channel 2, send Monica off to do Mark Winne’s job.

Then a spell of dead-serious sanity set in, boo, with a far-too-sober Richard Belcher package, whereby news and not just wind was broken at the Atlanta Rotary Club. Hearing aids were turned to 11 to catch one of Georgia’s most notorious philanderers, Mike Bowers, talk about… cheating. Talk about your *wall of silence.* (Oh let’s go there! But some other time.)

Freshly verbated finger-wagging for the pleasuring of angry old white men by the state’s investigators, Bowers and  Bob Wilson, was the main luncheon course downtown yesterday at Rotarian World.

Missing in media action since day one  of the APS cheating was, alas, Atlanta’s famed ape-slayer, PI Richard Hyde, also part of the state’s investigative team.

I expect to be media-raptured if we ever get to see Hyde on-cam. Which, like Jesus coming back and walking the streets of the A, ain’t gonna happen, kiddies. But a gal who consumes local TV news media the way Caren West buys shoes can still dream, right?

Overall, Lori Geary was the real j-school honors student/adult in the WSB-TV journalism Big Top tent last night. She didn’t back-down, nor did she apologize for doing the job she was sent to do, when she sat down with the mayor for a one-on-one in a scary-looking parking garage.

Because we always pull-up a chair and have a nice chitchat in creepy, dank parking garages in the ATL. Let’s hope the tires squeal real good on the black SUVs when they come roaring in.

Geary grilled Mayor Reed on the wave of criticism (felt where I have no idea, except maybe on my Facebook Wall) he’s, the mayor, undergone for writing-up and pushing through some cheesy legislation long ago when he was a state senator.

Legislation he, Kasim Reed, hammered home to fruition/passage that gave Dr. Bev Hall moreorless absolute powers to get out there be the best darn bully she could be. So… she did. Success!

Mayor Reed was in no mood for journalism or journalists, and he was mad and agitated when refusing to apologize for *not being a psychic.* You gotta love when Reed is fired-up. He becomes his blazingly verbal best then, and he’s a sight to behold. The man is an angry rhetorical event just waiting to happen. Kasim don’t do nice as well as he does pissed-off. And we love him for that. Right? Right.

All in all, by 6:30pm on July 11, 2011 Atlanta had gone to Apology Hyperdrive. And I was holding on for the ride. I do wish I’d had a chance to stop by the other TV news farms last night, but WSB-TV was rolling out so many big guns all over town I just couldn’t let go of the joystick.

WXIA always does a good journalism job though, and their ability to take a news block and write it into a cohesive, comprehensible unit is far and above the best in this market. Which isn’t saying much, but they at least try to do graceful and synchronized breaking news writing. Most don’t even bother.

That is what Peter Jennings was once able to do so perfectly that no one’s, national or otherwise, been able to master since – segue, write us, the audience, seamlessly and gracefully through an entire news block – while focused on one whopper of a breaking story. Without the jarring fits and starts and sputters and hacked news writing (and prompter-reading) that make local TV news such a circus-y fun parody of itself.

Yeah, I still miss Peter. On a big news day. And Atlanta’s having some deliciously big news days pretty much every day during this APS cheating *investigation.*

Try to keep up.

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