The red Navigator of shame.

It hasn’t been a month, but I’m enjoying the passing news parade here in the D. Perhaps you’ve heard the red-Navigator story; it went national. In case you didn’t, here’s the short version:

Some time recently, the city paid $24,995 to lease a cherry-red, loaded, brand-new Lincoln Navigator. For whom was this lavish vehicle obtained? nosy reporters asked. The mayor looked at his nails and tried the old point-over-your-shoulder-and-yell-“Look! Comet Kahoutek!” trick, but eventually the truth came out: The car was for his wife and kids. The sum of $24,995? Can you guess what the cutoff is for city expenditures to require council approval? If you guessed $25,000, go to the head of the class.

This story was broken, and mostly pursued, by this guy Steve Wilson at Channel 7, one of those on-your-side reporters whose specialty is chasing people down the street with a microphone and ShakyCam. At one point, one of the mayor’s bodyguards put him up against the wall, ON CAMERA, and you can just imagine how many times that item was replayed; it was a body-slam sent from heaven.

So the other day I turn on the news — keep in mind, most of February is a TV rating period — and there it is again, the red Navigator, weeks after the original story cooled off. This time it was being driven to work by police commander, and where was the video shot? From above, of course. I mean, wouldn’t you send the chopper up to get video of the car, “being driven at speeds in excess of 80 mph.” I would. And then there’s Steve with his ShakyCam, chasing the cop into the building, asking why it doesn’t have any radios, if it’s a police car now.

Oh, it was rich. For a minute, I thought I was living in Florida.

Anyway, this Free Press piece seems to sum up the tragicomedy pretty well.

Bloggage: Via the Poor Man, I see the truth is still emerging on Jeff Gannon-J.D. Guckert’s so-called personal life, which would still be fairly personal if he didn’t have dick shots posted all over the damn internet. The link above is work-safe, but the links within that post are decidedly not, unless you work for Larry Flynt.

The trip to North Manchester was fine, but exhausting. Remind me again how difficult it is to drive 500 miles in one day after four hours of sleep or so. But it was nice to meet the North Manchester readers, and Manchester College folks, and Jeff Hawkins, whose Hawkins Family Farm community-agriculture project I wrote about once upon a time back in the day. He presented me with a frozen free-range chicken, which I accepted because I no longer have to abide by my employer’s payola rules and also because: It’s a chicken. There’s something amusing about accepting the gift of a frozen chicken. You can say, “I accept this gift on behalf of chicken lovers everywhere” and tuck it under your arm like a football.

I think I’ll have it for dinner Sunday, unless Alan has another awards show he has to get in the Monday paper.

Posted at 10:15 am in Uncategorized |

12 responses to “The red Navigator of shame.”

  1. alex said on February 15, 2005 at 12:58 pm

    A red Navigator for the wife? Heck, that’s nothing. In Chicago, Jane Byrne had some fancy convertibles for her daughters�I forget which brand, it’s been so long ago. The media have been relatively gentle with Dumb-Dumb Daley, da Mayor for Life, only recently daring to point out how thoroughly corrupt he is, not that it’ll make one whit of difference in an election.

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  2. MichaelG said on February 15, 2005 at 1:43 pm

    Tuck a frozen chicken under your arm? The thought gives me chills.

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  3. Miss Beth said on February 15, 2005 at 2:41 pm

    And speaking of cracker-jack reporters breaking stories, I have a (sort of off-topic) question for the Nancy Nall Public at Large. Channel 8, our CBS affiliate, found evidence of a dog-fighting ring in Muncie, IN. Their proof? The video footage (20-30 seconds) of the dog corpse, still bound with duct tape and bloodied. The better part? It was a pet, stolen from the area and tortured to death, owner yet unknown. The best part? Not only did they air the footage late Friday night, it was re-broadcast at 7:45AM on Saturday morning. What is the general take on this? I sent a complaint email (mostly about the Saturday morning pre-cartoon appropriateness) and the response was (and I quote), “we didn’t show that much.” Any comments?

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  4. alex said on February 15, 2005 at 3:22 pm

    Why wasn’t the same reasoning applied to Janet Jackson? Heck, it’s nothing you couldn’t see in a National Geographic sans pastie. Puhleeze. There’s something truly lurid about showing the mutilated corpse of anything.

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  5. Bob said on February 15, 2005 at 4:13 pm

    The first question that comes to mind after reading the bit about Jeff Gannon is, “Has someone in the White House had a “business relationship” with Jeff Gannon, and did that someone make an accomodation for him to keep him from going public about it?”

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  6. Nance said on February 15, 2005 at 5:23 pm

    EX-cellent question, Bob. And yet, when bloggers sniffed this guy out, the professional media ethicists wondered whether it was “going too far” to intrude into his “personal life.”

    Miss Beth, I have to say, one of the biggest shocks we’ve had of late is the incredibly lurid nature of local news promos, many of which run during our personal NN.C family hour — the “Wheel of Fortune”/”Jeopardy” block. The other day, after yet another promo for “the bizarre health secret your teen may be keeping,” Kate said, “Sometimes the news scares me.” I’m not surprised.

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  7. Bartleby said on February 15, 2005 at 6:08 pm

    For purposes of responding to Miss Beth’s question, I hereby appoint myself a member of the N.N. Public at Large. Yes, I tend to think that showing any video at all of a dog’s remains in the described condition is highly unnecessary, thoroughly inappropriate, and (in the context of local teevee) pretty much not surprising.

    Now for my question, revealing my apparent ignorance of the ways of dog-fighting: what would duct tape have to do with the deal? If I came across the bloodied body of a dog, wrapped up in duct tape, I guess I’d figure there was at least one sick puppy running around on two legs, but I don’t see how it’s indicative of a dogfighting ring.

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  8. Miss Beth said on February 15, 2005 at 8:17 pm

    While I feel rude directing my post to Bartleby, I absolutely will not reveal the purpose of the duct tape to the whole congregation. Take it from me, it’s totally narsty. And I’m so pleased that WISH-TV has given me material for night terrors for weeks to come. But Bartleby, if you really want, please email me and I can clue you in. It gives me the shivers. And bless you for not knowing about dog-fighting tactics. I wish I didn’t…

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  9. The Other Nance said on February 15, 2005 at 10:25 pm

    Truly, if we’re going to get into dog-fighting conversation, I will be signing off of permanently. Politics and yada yada yada I can handle until doomsday (althought definitely not a Bush fan). I will NOT be talking about or listening to dog-fighting tactics. Period.

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  10. wade said on February 16, 2005 at 9:25 am

    (from the Navigator story:)

    “It was completely out of line,” said Channel 7 News Director Andrea Parquet-Taylor. “Steve posed no threat to no one…”

    … so, he posed some threat to some one, then? Who? Edwin Newman fans wanna know…


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  11. deb said on February 16, 2005 at 8:55 pm

    oh, wade. kleisch would be so proud.

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  12. deb said on February 16, 2005 at 8:56 pm

    or was it kliesch? damn! name error…auto F.

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