April 19, 2008

Ohio Media Suffers Collective Amnesia on AG Marc Dann’s Party

Ohio’s Old Media needs a collective medical intervention to battle Chronic Reporting Amnesia (CRA).

Ohio’s Democratic Attorney General, who has been no stranger to controversy since his election in November 2006, is in major hot water over the conduct of two employees on his staff:

An attorney representing two women whose sexual harassment allegations have triggered a widening scandal at Attorney General Marc Dann’s office says his clients have abundant evidence of their claims.

….. (Attorney Rex) Elliott said Cindy Stankoski and Vanessa Stout, both 26, have text messages, e-mails and “the whole nine yards to prove exactly what they’re saying.” The two have alleged that Anthony Gutierrez, the office’s general services supervisor, engaged in inappropriate comments and touching at the office and at a Dublin apartment then shared by him, Dann and communications director Leo Jennings III.

Dann has placed both Gutierrez and Jennings on paid leave as the allegations are investigated. Jennings was not accused of harassment in the women’s complaints. Dann placed him on leave Monday based on undisclosed new information he says came out in the investigation.

From reviewing at least a dozen stories concerning events relating to this growing scandal, it’s clear that Ohio’s press has totally forgotten what party Dann is a member of. One paper even seems to have forgotten that Dann is the Buckeye State’s AG (but see Updates below). The statewide spread of CRA has become serious. Strangely, the disease only appears to affect the left side of the brain, as Ohio’s reporters usually have little trouble identifying the party of a scandal-plagued Republican.

The party affiliation of Dann, who at one time relished in portraying himself as Ohio’s up-and-coming equivalent of Eliot Spitzer (and who at one time was referred to by a left-side Ohio blog’s proprietor as “My Beloved Marc Dann“), is not mentioned in at least these Ohio press items:

  • The unbylined April 15 Toledo Blade report excerpted above (“Lawyer says Ohio workers who allege harassment have evidence”).
  • An April 14 Associated Press report (“Attorney General Marc Dann puts aide on leave in harassment investigation”) that appeared in the Blade.
  • A brief April 10 AP report in the Blade (“Attorney general says employee never in pajamas in his apartment”).
  • An April 18 report from Dann’s home area of Youngstown carried in the Vindicator and written by Cleveland Plain Dealer reporters Marc Rollenhagen and Reginald Fields (“Reports show Dann was aware of Gutierrez’s history of troubles”).
  • This April 18 Cleveland Openers blog post by Fields (“Reports show Dann was aware of Gutierrez’s history of troubles”).
  • This April 17 Dayton Daily News report by Laurie Bischoff (“Blackberry device inspected as part of sex harassment case”).
  • This 1,000-plus word April 19 article by the Plain Dealer’s and Rollenhagen and Fields containing details of one of the women’s recitation of events.
  • An April 18 AP report by Julie Carr Smyth (“Sexual complaint probe at top cop’s office intensifies”) in the Akron Beacon Journal.
  • An April 16 My Fox Cleveland story with an ironic twist (“Dann Defends Woman Amid Own Office’s Sexual Harassment Flap”).

As former Democratic Governor and US Senator from Georgia Zell Miller once said in another venue, “I could go on, and on, and on, and on.”

Oh, here’s an exception! After failing to do so in previous articles here, here, and here, Alan Johnson of the Columbus Dispatch (“Criminal complaint filed over Dann aide”) mentions Dann’s party — in the ninth and final paragraph.

Even beyond the harassment-related scandal, the Dayton Daily News’s Bischoff failed to note Dann’s party affiliation in a story today about a different matter that more directly involves him (“Dann authorized his driver to carry concealed weapon”).

“At least” the papers above are covering Dann-related events, even if, as appears to be the case with the Blade and the Beacon Journal, the coverage consists only of carrying AP reports.

The same cannot be said about the Cincinnati Enquirer, which apparently isn’t on the story at all, as this search result on “Dann” from earlier this morning would seem to indicate (HT The Daily Bellwether):

DannEnquirerSearch041908

Maybe the Enquirer doesn’t consider Cincinnati to be part of Ohio any more. As a Greater Cincinnati-area resident, that’s tempting on one level, but, unfortunately for the Enquirer, geographically incorrect.

Cross-posted in slightly revised form at NewsBusters.org.

__________________________________________________

UPDATE, 3:30 p.m.: Noticed while out and about that the AP’s story was at the top of Page 1 of today’s print Enquirer. That doesn’t change the web site situation, but I did want to give the Enky credit for doing something with the story (no, I don’t know what has been in previous print editions, because I don’t subscribe).

UPDATE 2: Comment 1 has a link to the Enky’s online AP story posted 18 minutes after this entry was originally posted. Zheesh. Maybe the Enky reacted to this post (ha).

UPDATE 3, April 20: The same search on Dann at the Enquirer this morning picks up nothing today, meaning that Cincinnati.com searches don’t pick up wire-service stories carried at the Enquirer’s web site. Apparently, previous AP stories have also been posted at the Enquirer’s site and printed in the Enky (to which I do not subscribe). These are also not retrievable through Cincinnati.com’s search. So it’s not a problem with the search not picking up brand-new AP items, it simply doesn’t pick them up at all. Guys, that is really, really weak.

UPDATE 4, April 20: The Enquirer’s Frontier blog has entries on the Dann situation (newest to oldest) here, here, and here. There’s no party ID in any of the entries, that’s understandable, as the average political blog reader will already know. I don’t like the distinct “we’re above dealing with this” tone of the entries.

One Frontier commenter has it pegged: “Isn’t it embarrassing to the Enquirer that they have to link to other state newspapers so their readers can know about what is happening with the state’s Attorney General’s office?” Another commenter pointed out that Enquirer cartoonist Jim Borgman scooped his own paper’s reporters (“Ohio AG Frat House”).

UPDATE 5: One more beat-down — This 800-plus-word Dispatch report by Alan Johnson and James Nash from April 6, which looks to be the one that first broke the story of this particular Dann scandal, doesn’t identify Dann’s party affiliation.

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5 Comments

  1. http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080419/NEWS01/804190366/1077/COL02

    Comment by Tony B. — April 19, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

  2. Aha! The Ohio version of “name that party.” I’ve followed the Dann story as close as anyone, but have to admit that I didn’t even notice the lack of a “D” in any of those stories. And the Enquirer? What’s up with that?

    Comment by jason — April 19, 2008 @ 1:51 pm

  3. What’s even more odd about this is that they had no problem identifying Dann as a Democrat when writing about non-scandalous aspects of his job. When he’s suing a polluter or any other corporation, he’s a Democrat. When he’s talking about bringing crime labs to another city, he’s a Democrat. When he gets in hot water, everyone magically fails to include what party he is in, though they’ve never had that problem remembering Tom Noe’s affiliation.

    Comment by Kevin — April 19, 2008 @ 9:33 pm

  4. #3, Great point. “Odd” indeed.

    Comment by TBlumer — April 20, 2008 @ 9:28 am

  5. Thanks. I first noticed this during the Elliot Spitzer scandal. The day it broke, I noticed his party ID was absent. When I went to Google News, I had found plenty of pre-scandal stories, some of which were running earlier that day. In some cases, the very same reporter who ran a story appearing in the Monday morning papers identifying Spitzer as a Democrat had mysteriously forgotten his affiliation by 3:00 that afternoon. Must have been one h*ll of a 3-martini lunch!

    Comment by Kevin — April 20, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

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