WISE MEN TALK BECAUSE THEY HAVE
SOMETHING TO SAY ... FOOLS, BECAUSE
THEY HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING.
Plato's quote is a guide for these blogs. I leave it to the reader to decide which applies.
"Watching the ten O'clock news last night like we always do, Larry Conners couldn't wait to publicly further humiliate Tony LaRussa. The man brought the world series to St. Louis and this is how you thank him...Don't you think he feels bad enough about it? Get off his back."
That's an excerpt from a e-mail we received at KMOV regarding our coverage on the DUI arrest of Cardinal Manager Tony LaRussa.
Our story was straightforward: we told of the arrest ... what officers reported ... how LaRussa reacted ( cooperating fully) ... the fact that he was over the legal limit ... that he posted bond .. returned to the Cardinals ... initially had no comments .. would give no interviews .. but later gave an impromptu verbal statement acknowledging that he was wrong and sorry.
(I was concerned that we should be careful to not say that LaRussa was "passed out" .. because that was a judgement call. For the same reason, I was concerned saying: "asleep at the wheel" ... was a judgement call in the other direction. The best description was as the officer reported: slumped over at the wheel.)
Yet, the author of the email ... and many others who shared the same views ... believe that we were almost gleefully trying to bury LaRussa.
Let me give you some perspective. Over the years, I've had to do stories on friends ... even close friends ... who were suddenly caught in the harsh glare of damaging publicity. In some cases, these friends had violated a law ... in some cases, they were caught in a compromising situation ... in some cases, they were simply accused of doing something wrong or questionable.
My creed for such coverage is simple: We apply the same rules .. for everyone.
In one such case, a caller cursed me .. saying that I had to be getting some real pleasure out of a story which destroyed someone's life. I told the caller that the subject of the story was a friend and while I was sorry we had to do the story .. it had to be covered .. and my thought was: if anyone is going to cover the story ... it will be me.
On the specifics of LaRussa .. there's no doubt if it had been most anyone else .. the story would not have been covered. The fact is .. it was Tony LaRussa .. and being in the public eye means you are subject to more scrutiny and exposure.
That applies to anyone in such a position... even Larry Conners.
If Larry Conners were arrested for DUI ... it would be reported ... make a pretty big story, and I would expect this station to take the lead in reporting the story.
When my children were growing up .. I often reminded them that if they got in trouble .. they might get more attention than their friends .. simply because they were the children of Larry Conners. In a way, that's an unfair burden for children .. but it's a shadow all public figures cast on their children and family.
Again on the specifics of Tony LaRussa. The fact that he lead the Cardinals to a World Series win .. does not give him a pass ... when it comes to reporting a DUI.
Personally, I hope and believe that this will be a tiny blip on Tony's history, and while there might be some necessary updates and minor new developments... this is a done deal.
Fair and balanced reporting of such an event ... is not character assassination. It is not head-hunting. It is simply doing our job.