Friday, April 16, 2010

The Words I Never Thought I'd Say

I feel sorry for Jerry Jones.  I really do.

The Dallas Cowboys owner was having a few drinks in a bar when some putz with a cell phone camera secretly recorded him. Jones said some unkind things about former coach Bill Parcells and college quarterback Tim Tebow.

What Jones said was irrelevant.  First, he shouldn't have been taped.  Second, a Dallas TV station, WFAA, acted in an exceptionally slimey fashion by airing it.  And, we continue to wonder why a large number of people hold broadcast journalism in low esteem.

Should Jones have been more careful?  Most certainly.

When the government gives a broadcaster a license, it also bestows responsibility.  A lot of broadcasters have forgotten that.  Case in point:  WFAA.

The tape is all over the internet, and I won't even begin to open up that can of worms.

Could it, and would it happen here?  It's really a case for the lawyers to straighten out.

It reminds me of something that happened back in 1996.  A news director had a great idea for a story.  She wanted me to call the "Psychic Hotline" to see if what the "psychic" had to say about my life was accurate.  I declined.  First, it was stupid.  Second, Pennsylvania has strict wiretap laws.  You cannot record a telephone conversation without the consent of the party on the other end of the line.  The story was assigned to another reporter, who wisely recorded only her half, the reporter's half, of the conversation.  Here, I use the word "reporter" loosely.  In this case, following the letter of the law didn't make a difference.  It was a bad piece, and it had no busness being on the air.  See the earlier paragraphs about "responsibility" and "low esteem."