February 2, 2018

AP, ABC Fail to Tag Nashville Mayor in Affair With Bodyguard As a Democrat

Wednesday afternoon, the Tennessean reported that Nashville Mayor Megan Barry disclosed that “she had an extramarital affair with the police officer in charge of her security detail.” The paper’s story tagged Barry as a Democrat (in their fourth paragraph), but national stories seen at the Associated Press and ABC News have not.

Besides the affair’s obvious impropriety, the Tennessean reported a potential issue relating to compensation Barry’s bodyguard/lover received:

Mayor Megan Barry said Wednesday she had an extramarital affair with the police officer in charge of her security detail, an extraordinary admission that rocks the popular Nashville mayor’s first term.

Barry, in an interview with The Tennessean on Wednesday afternoon, apologized “for the harm I’ve done to the people I love and the people who counted on me” but said she won’t be resigning.

She confirmed the affair with Metro police Sgt. Robert Forrest Jr., which began in the spring or summer of 2016, just months after she entered office the previous fall. Forrest submitted his retirement papers Jan. 17. His final day was Wednesday.

Barry and Forrest are both married. Barry said the relationship was discovered during conversations between their spouses and private discussions.

Forrest, 58, was a regular presence with the mayor during public events, travel and even trips abroad. According to public records obtained by The Tennessean, thousands of taxpayer dollars covered Forrest’s travel with the mayor on city business. (Later text indicates that the amount involved is roughly $33,000, and included Greece, “Washington, D.C.; New York; Denver; Oakland, Calif.; Salt Lake City; and Kansas City in the last 10 months alone.” — Ed.)

… Barry, 54, said she is no longer seeing Forrest, but during the news conference declined to say when the relationship ended.

Both a five-paragraph brief and a longer item at the Associated Press failed to disclose the Mayor’s party affiliation. In each instance, AP reporter John Mattise appears to have used the Tennessean’s report as guidance, giving credence to the idea that the failure to disclose Barry’s Democratic Party affiliation was a conscious choice.

Morgan Winsor’s Wednesday evening report at ABC News also failed to disclose that Barry is a Democrat, but did note that “Forrest’s overtime pay has doubled since Barry took office.”

A late paragraph in the Tennessean’s coverage may explain why these two national outlets failed to disclose that Barry is a Democrat:

Barry’s been the most visible mayor in Nashville history, and has gained national attention as a rising star in Democratic ranks. At times, she’s taken on almost celebrity status …

Perhaps AP, ABC, and national outlets ignoring this story, including the New York Times, which has no in-house story (the item located in a Times search is a party ID-free AP item which did not make the print edition), are hoping that the Mayor moves up further in Democratic circles, and that by the time she seeks statewide or national office, no one will care about the affair (“old news,” you know).

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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