• Monday’s Enquirer carries a sanitized obit for Larry Beaupre, the fine, aggressive Enquirer editor whose career was destroyed by a trusted reporter during the Chiquita scandal.
genius was motivating his staff to take chances and go the extra step.
No one wanted to admit not making the last phone call to check something
in a story. We made those calls.
As part of that, Larry brought the “woodshed” to the Enquirer
newsroom on Elm Street. It was the perfect walk to his corner office
overlooking the Ohio and Licking Rivers. There, Larry would privately
discuss some failing or pratfall in that morning’s paper.
favorite Larry story — there is no way I’ll call him Beaupre — is
Lucasville. I was involved in coverage of that prison riot and
occupation from its start on Easter, 1993. Larry was part of
Pulitzer-winning coverage of the bloody Attica prison revolt in New
York. He gave us everything we asked for at Lucasville. In the middle of
that deadly mess — 24/7 for 11 days in Scioto County red clay mud
outside the prison on what became press row — he drove down to deliver
Sunday papers and thank his bleary staff. That’s leadership.
will never forget the Sunday morning when Beaupre showed up,”
then-reporter Howard Wilkinson recalled for an earlier column. “He asked
me what we needed. ‘Cash, and lots of it,’ I said, explaining that we
had to buy food and clothing for the crew, most of whom came unprepared
for 11 days in the mud. Larry pulled his wallet out of his back pocket
and start counting out a wad of $50s . . . gave me $500 on the spot,
which I ended up spending at Big Bear and the Subway in Lucasville.
‘There’s more where that came from,’ Beaupre said.”
meddle when things went right. There always were questions about why we
didn’t have some Lucasville story that someone else did. Larry always
accepted “we checked it out and it’s not true.” We got it right and he
A year later, he made sure we knew that a
routine Lucasville anniversary story wasn’t acceptable. Kristen DelGuzzi
and I spent weeks on race, religion and crowding in prisons around the
country and Lucasville. The ordinary was not acceptable to Larry or his
Not long ago, I sent Howard Wilkinson’s comment to
Larry, along with that column anticipating the 20th anniversary of
Lucasville in 2013. Larry responded warmly, saying it’s nice to be
remembered for something beyond Chiquita.
However, it’s the
nature of our trade that we’re remembered for our biggest screwups. Ask
Dan Rather. So it is with Larry: the year-long investigative effort and
special 18-page section describing what reporters Mike Gallagher and Cam
McWhirter learned about Chiquita operations here and abroad. Typically,
Larry gave two trusted reporters all of the resources they needed. He
and Gallagher had worked together before Larry brought him to
Cincinnati. Gallagher’s decision to eavesdrop on Chiquita voice mails
doomed the project and cost Larry his career.
They gave us a
dark view of Chiquita operations, especially in Central America. The
project blew up in our faces and Larry was the scapegoat even though the
stories had gone all of the way up the corporate chain and back again.
noted that despite the three page 1 apologies and curious renunciation
of the stories that followed revelation of Gallagher’s dishonest
reporting methods, the Enquirer did not retract the facts.
Larry and the Enquirer
had challenged the most powerful man in Cincinnati, Carl Lindner.
Gallagher’s dishonesty gave Lindner his opening and Lindner crippled the
paper for years. As part of the deal with Lindner and Chiquita, the
paper paid $14 million.
More devastating was the condition that
Larry had to go. He did. McWhirter was moved to a top reporting job at
the Gannett paper in Detroit. David Wells was removed as local editor —
the one job he always wanted at the Enquirer - but stayed to become opinion page editor.
— who lied to everyone about how he got those voice mails and included
his lies in the published stories — was fired. He stayed around to plead
guilty to tapping Chiquita voice mail system and stayed out of prison
by naming his Chiquita-related sources.
lost the passion and editing talents of Larry and David Wells and Cam
McWhirter’s reporting skills. Other colleagues began leaving; the Enquirer was tainted goods. Job applications from similarly talented journalists dried up, I’m told, for years. I’m not sure the Enquirer ever recovered.
Larry (above) and his family moved to Mt. Lookout from West Chester
when he came from New York. No matter what landscapers planted in his
garden overlooking Ault Park, deer ate them. Then there were the
raccoons. Larry came to my desk in distress, wondering what he could do.
I suggested a nonlethal Havahart trap. Let the critter loose in another
park. Larry tried it. Bait would be gone, the trapdoors closed and no
‘coon. One night he stayed up to see what was going on. The critter went
in, ate the bait, and when the doors dropped, other raccoons tipped
over the trap. Doors opened and “prisoner” walked free. I think he gave
up; Midwestern deer and raccoons were more than his New York smarts
• If you missed it, go back to last Tuesday’s Enquirer
opinion page and read mediator Bob Rack’s essay on civility in public
life. It’s broader than elections and is more practical than the typical
admonishment to behave.
• Thursday’s Enquirer
started a page 1 watch on the Pride of the Tristate, naysaying
obstructionists Mitch and John. I hope Enquirer reporters tell us what
Mitch and John and their House and Senate colleagues do in the name of
“bipartisanship.” Skip their words. Watch what they do.
“Gravitas” apparently is so 2010. The new word favored by many politics
writers is “meme.” A wise editor once told me to avoid foreign words
unless they’re so common that even an editor would know them. Meme —
from the Greek — fails.
• Quotationspage.com attributes this
famous aphorism to department store merchant John Wanamaker: “Half the
money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know
which half.” I wonder if that’s true about campaign ads. Billionaire
right-winger Sheldon Abelson helped poison the well but the New York Times
says only his candidates drank; they all lost. I haven’t seen a similar
analysis of libertarian Koch brothers spending but it reportedly was
far greater than even Abelson’s. Democrats countered by raising and
spending zillions. The only difference was the far greater number of
Democratic donors needed to reach the magic totals. Great for TV
stations but brain damaging for the rest of us.
is no “financial cliff.” We’re not going to go over it on Jan. 1. An end
to Bush tax cuts won’t pitch us in a recession on Jan. 2.
Sequestration won’t suck zillions out of the economy in one day. Yes,
there is a downward economic slope if Congress and Obama don’t sort out
the tax/deficit mess. So, why do journalists continue to parrot
bipartisan “over the cliff” rhetoric when the facts they report make it
clear that no such precipice exists?
• My nomination for a “Useless” award is the New York Times telephone people who are supposed to help with home delivery problems. Twice last week, the Times
wasn’t there in the morning and replacement papers weren’t delivered
that day or the next. That included Wednesday’s paper with the election
results. More aggravating was the blue-wrapped Times on my neighbor’s drive, giving lie to the Times’ “problem resolution” staff’s explanation that there were problems at the printing plant. Times’ operators and clueless supervisors were in Iowa: dim bulbs who sounded like they read from an all-purposes script.
• I finally used the New York Times website to email their vp/circulation. A reply came quickly, promising to contact the Enquirer whose carriers deliver the Times. A prompt call from Enquirer
circulation on Elm Street promised replacement papers and a personal
delivery. Didn’t happen. Still hasn’t, a week later. A perfect union of
ignorance and interstate bullshit.
• Last week’s CityBeat
cover story was the annual Project Censored; the most underreported
major stories in the major news media. The list misses my No. 1 most
underreported story of the year: third-party candidates for the
presidency and their platforms.
About the only time the major
news media noted Third Party existence was to wonder if a third party
might get enough votes to deny victory to a Democrat or Republican in
any state(s). Affecting a state’s vote totals would be bad for
democracy, those news media anxieties imply.
So I’d offer two
suggestions to my 24/7 news media colleagues. First, voting one’s
principles is not bad for democracy and it has the potential for great
news stories. Second, third party platforms suggest ingredients in
whatever becomes conventional wisdom in 2016 or 2020.
what third parties do; hopeful but realistic, they do the thinking that
seems to escape mainstream Democrats and Republicans. If you doubt me,
look at what came out of the Progressive era 100 years ago and what
might come out of Tea Party initiative and energy.
• Are news
media short of photos of Petraeus in civvies? He’s no longer a general.
Most images I saw after his surprise resignation had him in uniform.
Also, the developing story of how his affair was discovered is
fascinating. The FBI stumbled on Petraeus when it was investigating a
complaint of online harassment against Paula Broadwell, the adoring
graduate student who became author of the new Petraeus biography and his
lover. The complaint came from another woman, a frightened friend of
the Petraeus family. Agents looking at Broadwell’s emails found
classified information and romantic emails between Petraeus and
Broadwell. Tacky as this is, it fell to Jay Leno to sum it up: Guys,
Leno said, if the head of the CIA can’t keep an affair secret, don’t
you try it because if you do, “You’re screwed.”
• BBC’s sex
scandal — knighted entertainer Jimmy Savile and others at BBC abused
hundreds of girls for years — continues to spread. So far, it hasn’t
touched the BBC World Service which Americans get on WVXU/WMUB and other
Last week, however, it cost BBC’s new top exec his
job. He quit after one of his reporters suggested during a TV interview
that he should “go” and a former Cabinet minister responsible for BBC
said Winnie the Pooh would have been a more effective curb on careless,
The latest mess involves BBC’s top
domestic current affairs/investigative TV program, Newsnight and the
broader issue of child abuse by prominent and powerful figures in
British public life.
BBC’s Newsnight broadcast Steve Messham’s
claim that a top Conservative politician was among men who molested him
in a state children’s home during the 1980s. Newsnight didn’t name the
Tory but others did on social media: Lord Alistair McAlpine. He came
forward last week and denied wrongdoing.
When Messham saw a
photo of McAlpine after the broadcast, Messham recanted and apologized.
His abuser wasn’t McAlpine. No one showed Messham a photo of McAlpine
before broadcasting his accusation. BBC last week apologized
“unreservedly.” That phrase usually means a libel suit is anticipated.
BBC officials canceled Newsnight investigations. Newsnight already is
under investigation for killing an program that would have outed Savile
as a serial abuser. Savile is dead but three colleagues have been
arrested so far.
• Thedailybeast.com excerpts from Into the Fire,
a book by Dakota Meyer, the Kentuckian who won the Medal of Honor in
Afghanistan. It’s a toy chest of news tips for reporters. Here’s part of
When I got home in December, I felt like I had
landed on the moon. Kentucky is pretty much what you think: cheerful
bluegrass music like Bill Monroe, rolling countryside, good moonshine,
great bourbon and pretty girls. Greenery, lakes, the creeks and rolling
hills, forests, birds, other critters and all the farms. There’s that
genuine friendliness that comes with small towns and close-knit
families. You don’t want to act like an asshole because it will get back
to your grandmother by supper.
“Something like: ‘Well, Dakota, I hear you had some words today with that neighbor of Ellen’s sister’s boy.’
of course, was happy to see me, as were my grandparents, so that was a
good feeling. Dad didn’t give me a hard time about Ganjigal, and neither
did my leatherneck Grandpa. We just didn’t talk much about it. It was
great seeing my family and friends, but they had their own lives.
Everyone around me was excited about football, Christmas, and other
normal things; I was looking at the clapboard houses and the cars and
thinking, man — so flimsy. They wouldn’t give cover worth shit in a
“It was an exposed feeling. And where were my machine
guns? I found my old pistol and kept it around like a rabbit’s foot, but
I missed my 240s and my .50-cals something awful. It seems weird, I’m
sure, but I really just wasn’t buying it that there wasn’t some enemy
about to come over the green hills, and I felt so unprepared—I wouldn’t
be any good to protect anybody.
“I was set to soon go off to Fort Thomas, Kentucky, for PTSD therapy . . . “
Next year, we’ll commemorate the botched Bay of Pigs invasion. It
wasn’t the last time we underestimated the resilience of a far weaker
“enemy.” JFK reportedly told the Times that he would have aborted the invasion if the Times
had had the cajones to publish what it knew about preparations in
Florida and Central America. However, during the two weeks before the
invasion, the Times published stories about the preparations.
Next year, we’ll also commemorate JFK’s murder. I watched demonstrators
at our London Grosvenor Square Embassy vilify the U.S. for its role in
the Cuban missile crisis. The night of JFK’s death, crowds were back . .
. to sign a book of condolences.
• A federal judge ordered
the FBI to pay journalist Seth Rosenfeld $479,459 for court costs and
lawyers’ fees. He sued the FBI after it ignored his appropriate requests
under the Freedom of Information Act. Poynter.com says Rosenfeld will
donate the money to the First Amendment Project Project in Oakland,
Calif. It handled his case pro bono for 20 years. That’s chump change to
the bureau and it costs individual agents nothing for blowing him off.
Meanwhile, news organizations say broad resistance to FOIA requests has
worsened throughout the federal government under Obama.
is going digital-only next year, in keeping with boss Tina Brown’s
changing reading habits. She says she doesn’t even look at newsstands
any longer; everything she wants is on her Kindle. Of course, she’ll
fire people. Newsweek always was No. 2 to Time
Magazine which continues its print edition. I’ve ignored giveaway
offers from both magazines for years. It isn’t print, it’s their
content. My choice? The Economist’s weekly U.S. print edition.
ABC said his family was unaware of film director Tony Scott’s brain
cancer when he jumped off a bridge in August and died. Now, ABC admits
its original unverified and uncorroborated story was wrong. There was no
brain cancer. It only took two months to admit and correct the error.