Monthly Archives: September 2010

Don Lemon: Not Left or Right, but a Human Point of View

TV ratings trends and even a job switch or two have fueled the argument that audiences are more attracted to news delivered with a point of view. News from the left has helped Rachel Maddow and MSNBC. News from the right has helped Fox News. That's the argument.

Don Lemon on CNN showed another dimension on Saturday evening. Lemon hews closely to the CNN down-the-middle, politically nonpartial approach to the news. Politics, though, do not drive every news consumer. In the middle of a live report on allegations that an Atlanta pastor sexually abused young men in his congregation, Lemon admitted that as a youth he was a victim of a pedophile.

I have never admitted this on television. I’m a victim of a pedophile when I was a kid. Someone who was much older than me.

TVNewser was quick on the beat, reporting CNN Anchor Don Lemon's On-Ar Revelation:

Lemon’s admission led to an audible gasp from one of his guests. “I’ve never admitted that on television and I never told my mom until I was 30 years old,” Lemon said later in the segment. “Especially African-American men don’t want to talk about those things.”

The supportive reaction on Twitter and Facebook showed that Lemon had touched his audience:

You are an exceptionally brave man.God Bless You,Sir.

–and:

I am proud of you for talking about your abuse. I respect you as a reporter and a man.

–and:

 @donlemoncnn You have no idea how many people you helped to get free tonight.

These are just a quick sampling. At the end of his program, Lemon thanked his audience for the tweets. Others will have to judge how much it means for a reporter to share his all-too-human story and how many ways there may be to escape what Jay Rosen has derided as the view from nowhere.

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Ohio Newspapers Lead Fight For Open Records

How many retired government workers in your state are receiving six-figure pensions from taxpayers? As more states face larger piles of debt and more voters worry about their own retirements, this question has a new urgency. In Ohio, a group of newspapers has gone to court to obtain the answer.

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System has refused to make the information public, even though the information was collected by public officials and tracks how public money is spent. State law imposes privacy restrictions that will not allow the release of the information, even if names are blocked out, officials say. 

Three years ago, Pennsylvania officials cited similar arguments when they refused to disclose bridge safety data. Even after a Minnesota bridge collapsed, the Pennsylvania officials balked. I testified before a state Senate committee in favor or stronger open records laws, joining a cause championed by other editors and community groups. Ultimately, the Pennsylvania officials relented, and released the data.

In a post about that decision and about the committee hearing on the right-to-know law, I wrote:

Despite the general sense among officials at the hearing that disclosure is a public good, the debates over particulars showed that many officials have lost track of their role. They are not in charge, they work for the public. Have they forgotten "We the people"?

The reluctant Ohio officials are not alone. As Jeannette Neumann wrote in the Wall Street Journal (Fury Over Public Pensions Sparks Disclosure Lawsuits), similar legal battles are underway in New York and California.

Another legal case, however, shows that Ohio public pension officials are not always opposed to disclosure. They have gone to court as plaintiffs, accusing Bank of America of failing to disclose enough information about compensation paid to top banking executives. 

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