Wednesday, May 18, 2005

HURRICANE MITCH BLOWS THROUGH TOWN: CLAIMS TWO VICTIMS

The Mitch Albom investigation is complete and the Free Press sports columnist is painting himself out to be a victim.
Unfortunately I sat next to the real victims during Tuesday's Pistons-Pacers game at The Palace. The real victims in this are Free Press sports columnists Drew Sharp and Michael Rosenberg, who never asked to be involved.
But the newspaper they loved are using them as bullet proof vests to protect their prized possession whom they fear will be taken hostage by the journalism community.
After a five week investigation on allegations Albom made up stories the only news the Free Press was willing to print was that Mitch steals quotes, alters them to fit what he is trying to say and feeds off the hard work of other journalists.
I knew the Free Press would wimp out on this and not do anything to Albom. But why drag Boodini and Rosie in this?
The answer is simple. They fear a Mitch witch hunt will continue. Other publications are likely to look into Albom's dark past. And they may demand that the Free Press make Albom walk the plank into murky shark infested waters. And the Freep can always say "Fine. If that is what you want. But look who is chained to Mitch's ankles. If Mitch goes down, then so shall others."
It is a nasty way to do business. But the Free Press is willing to tick off the rest of its columnists, most of its staff and its investigation team to protect Mitch.
The message is clear. Albom is more important than all of these people combined.
Drew and Mike are the real victims. They were minding their own business when they got caught in the Mitch tidal wave.
Let me take a time out to say Drew is one of my boys. I have known him for 23 years. So if you want to scream bias, then go ahead. Since I've known him all he wanted to do is believe in the Free Press. He wanted to believe in its dreams, ethics and everybody who worked there.
Since becoming a columnist all he wants is his shot at commentating on the day's events, go to big events and rag on the Big Ten every other week.
That is not much to ask.
Rosenberg is new at the game. He is learning and making an impact. He writes things that make you think. It is the goal of every columnist. He too never asked to get involved in this.
Yet the Freep hung both out to dry, pointing out they used unattributed quotes to bolster their columns in the past. But their transgressions are no where as severe as Mitch's.
They did not make up stories. Mitch did.
They did not alter quotes to fit their stories. Mitch did.
They did not lie to readers. Mitch did.
They did not put to former Michigan State basketball players in the stands during the Final Four. Mitch did.
They did not ask for this. Mitch did.
This is another sad chapter in Detroit journalism. We are all victims.
I've already heard from folks, angry over something I wrote or said on the radio, accuse me of making stuff up. Their reasoning is if the king of Detroit sports can do it, who the hell am I?
I only have one answer for them. The first time I lie in the Detroit News is the last time I do it.
There might be an investigation that lasts hours, not weeks, before I am shown the door.
My message will be "See ya. Wouldn't Want to be Ya."
We've all been dragged into this Mitch thing. But no where to the extent of Boodini and Rosie. It is a shame and they deserve better. They deserve an apology from Mitch and the Free Press.
But I am now taking the advice of some of my friends and taking the high road. I simply wanted to get this off my chest and come to the defense of two men who cannot fight back.
So if Mitch can forgive those who have criticized him. Then I forgive him for dragging down our profession with him.

12 Comments:

Blogger Matt said...

Terry,

Congratulations on your blog and thanks for the commentary on 1270.

It is just like Albom to use his bullhorn to declare himself "innocent" of all charges, and to claim that he is merely a victim of jealousy and envy among his peers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

He was not cleared. While the investigative team did not come up with anything in the 600 columns they read, that is, what, three years worth of the 20 he has been here? That he is guilty of playing with quotes and not attributing them shows his disrespect or flat out ignorance of the most basic tenents of journalism. If he is sloppy on the easiest thing a journalist can do, doesn't it stand to reason he is sloppy in other aspects as well?

Yet, as the letters to the editor bear out, he banks on "his" audience of emasculated men and oversensitive women to see these sorts of things as meaningless in the "grand scheme of things." It is no suprise - moral relatavism is his cash cow and to his credit, he has hit the jackpot.

Well, Albom's transgressions would be meaningless if his columns were all about self-help and the utopian aphorisms of a two-bit professor living in the 60s. But they are not. As you know, Albom routinely uses his column to tsk-tsk the rest of the world, most famously and hypocritically in his column about Jayson Blair. Albom loves to be judge, jury, and executioner when it suits him. But should anyone else attempt to judge him, they are judged by him to be jealous and petty. A bigger hypocrite you could not find.

The Freep look like clowns in the story they published on Monday regarding this investigation. The inmates are definitely running that asuylum and their high-ranking editors should be ashamed of themselves for hanging other writers and editors out to dry to save face for a columnist whose best days were in the mid 1990s.

You're so right about Sharp and Rosenberg. It is ridiculous that they have dragged them into this mess, a mess that Albom created himself. He owes them an apology, a thank you, and much, much more. I'm sure they won't hold their breath waiting.

I found the irony so great at the end of that story on Monday, giving the reader the image of the sensitive little man bringing a house full of sensitive people to tears as he related his stories about Morrie and his late uncle. Ironic because as he was giving this talk, the preeminent sports columnist in this city was hundreds of miles away from the Palace, where this city's defending world champions were in a playoff game. Albom was nowhere to be found, and Sharp and Rosenberg once again had to carry the water. That pretty much sums it up these days for the Freep.

Thanks for letting me rant.

9:25 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never liked Albom, haven't read a single column since he decided he was an authority on everything else besides sports, and the schmaltz he peddles makes me sick. The Freep should hang their heads in shame, because as you said Terry, if it were anyone else, they'd be kicked out the door.

9:43 AM

 
Blogger Kevin Antcliff said...

Albom is a successful columnist and a quality writer. He's had best-sellers, movie scripts, TV shows...he's had it all. Most importantly, he makes the Freep money.

I guess if you can go 20 years without robbing a bank, you're allowed to skim a little off the top of the cash register and get away with it.

Wrong is wrong, and no amount of history or profit should be enough to make anybody overlook what was obviously misleading journalism - to put it nicely.

I don't have anything against Mitch personally, but I know that there are people in this town that SHOULD have a column that don't, and he's somebody that has a column that SHOULDN'T.

9:50 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When will the Freep realize that Mitch needs them, not the other way around? The Freep behaves as if circulation will come to a screeching halt if is not a columnist. Has circulation gone up the last few years? No, it hasn't. Advertisers will not pull out if Mitch does not write. Athletes will continue to talk to the other sports staffers.

Now, if Mitch is no longer a sports columnist, he can kiss those gigs on ESPN good bye. He has a radio show because he is a columnist for the largest paper in Michigan. If he is busted down to civilian, then who would want to listen to an author drone on for 3-4 hours a day?

Mitch is the one who gains by being at the Freep, which is why he still there. He has those people punked. He is a terrific writer, but the Freep needs to start acting like they have some leverage, too.

11:27 AM

 
Blogger Stashu said...

Terry,

Thank you for an honest take on the Mitch Albom - Free Press situation. I was disgusted by Mitch's feeble apologies and general ho-hum attitude towards the whole situation when it broke. But to watch now as he throws others under the bus shows his true character. It appears that the U.S.S. Albom has only 1 life-boat on board and it seats 1.

As far as The Free Press and their handling of the whole situation, it couldn't be a bigger collection of sheep trying to save their butts. And if others have to suffer, so be it. They sure are hammering Kwame in print every single day tauting THAT investigation. But what do we get about one of their own in trouble? Not to mention their biggest name? Not much.

I've always been a Free Press guy but that's about to change. The way they have tap danced around this story is weak. All of their focus seems to be aimed at pushing this under the rug as quick as possible. Oh, and don't piss of Mitch in the process. Nice of the Freep to include all those photos of Mitch with celebrites to remind us of just how famous and popular he is. My question is, what did those photos have to do with the investigation? Pathetic!

1:40 PM

 
Anonymous Nick said...

I've always enjoyed your insight to this soap opera I like to call "As The Mitch Turns". I was an Albom fan at one point, not anymore (this happened when I actually met the guy outside of a "scheduled apperance", but that's a whole other story for an other time). After hearing all of this for the last month or so, it's hard to believe anything he has wrote in the past or will write in the future is going to be creditable. How much of "Fab Five" was made up? This is going to follow him for the rest of his career. There will always be whispers of "is this column made up?" "Did this person really say this?"

3:43 PM

 
Anonymous hummbaby said...

i try and not be judgemental..but when it comes to mitch albom..it has not been easy.

i had grown tired of his act a long time ago...the same old catch phrase in every column...a point made followed by a trite little sentence.

kinda...like this.

i admit i laughed when he got his hand caught in his own cookie jar.

kinda...like that.

ive already grown tired of writing about him..

kinda...

6:40 PM

 
Blogger Josh said...

Terry,

You and Mikey V. are one of the world's most stellar tag teams since Starsky & Hutch.. or Bert & Ernie.. I can't decide which. Just don't ever decide to pull a Sonny & Cher on us.

But seriously, there are those who think people have been on a 'Mitch hunt' for years, jealous of his success and eager to watch him fall.

And there are others who would like to bat their eyelids and look the other way with Mitch's mistakes.

The fact is, Mitch did indeed make a mistake. Several of them. On a larger scale.. they weren't earth-shattering mistakes that paint him to be a compulsive liar, but like you said, they will forever put doubt in the minds of discerning readers, which is sad.

What really concerns me is almost a sense of arrogance in his letter to his readers (that's just my impression). He is not happy about going through a "colonoscopy", but he failed to mention or re-enforce the fact that he was the one shoing the symptoms of a health problems in the first place..

Also, he blew off the "quote attribution issues". I'm not a journalist, but my english teacher told me to ALWAYS accurately quote my sources.

I DO believe a person can be factually solid in most everything while being just plain lazy on small, "easiest thing a journalist can do"-kind of details. Some people are willing to 'lie' on a small level but not on a larger one. But still, if I steal a candy bar and you steal a porsche, we both have integrity issues, and I think that's your point.

I don't think Mitch should be fired, outright. He shouldn't be called bad names or be made fun of. People are all too pious when someone other then themselves have been knocked off a pedastal.

BUT there's some accountability that needs to happen. I have a feeling Mitch is on a much shorter leash, and every one of his columns will be carefully scrutinized by some skeptical readers. In my book, that's how it should be left. Let's leave him alone, and see if he can rebuild trust with anyone other than 'emasculated men and oversensitive women'.

In the meantime, let's lift up journalists who continue to work hard to respect the ethics of their profession and concern themselves with the small details as much as they do the 'big stuff'.

Nice, heartfelt column. Now lets move on.

Love your stuff!

9:29 PM

 
Blogger Greg Eno said...

Right on! You opened my eyes to another angle of this story -- the other columnists. I read that large spread in the Freep and while I thought it was odd that it dragged Sharp and Rosenberg into it, I must admit the paper did a good job of disguising it as an innocent way to support the integrity of its investigation, because I didn't really think about it your way until just now.

And, I must say, I agree. I also thought the whole "you don't touch Mitch" thing as far as the editors are concerned was troubling, too. It didn't take much reading between the lines on that one.

Later!

9:26 AM

 
Blogger T Foster said...

I am glad I opened eyes and sparked debate. I believe that is what journalists are supposed to do at times. I am not here to playah hate. but if someone else does I am not afraid to point it out.
It does not always make you popular. It might not be the right thing to do. But it is what I believe is right and it feel right to do.
I guess I wont be standing in the corner. I am going to try to be as front and center as possible.

12:03 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lemme see...

Dubya lies about WMDs, 100,000 people die.

Mitch lies about being at a sports event, MSU loses to UNC in the Final Four.

WTF?!

11:25 PM

 
Blogger JXQMDNVK said...

Hi, I like your blog. I have a site on cookie monster cookie jar maybe we could trade links?

3:31 PM

 

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