media

Hall tax repeal prompts letter-writing war between GOP legislators and Democrats

A letter-writing war has been underway in recent editions of The Cleveland Daily Banner between Republican state legislators representing Bradley County and Democrats. A letter from state Democratic  Chair Mary Mancini was the latest episode and prompted the newspaper to do a roundup story that chronicles the back-and-forth written sniping.

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Nashville Scene lays off editor, cuts staff otherwise

SouthComm, the company that owns the Nashville Scene and Nashville Post, is cutting staff. Among those being laid off is Scene Editor Steve Cavendish.

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Court of Appeals rules for TV station in DA’s libel lawsuit

The state Court of Appeals has unanimously overturned a lower court ruling that would have required  Nashville TV station WTVF and reporter Phil Williams to turn over documents related to reporting on Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk, who has filed a libel lawsuit.

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Ed Cromer retiring as editor of The Tennessee Journal

Ed Cromer is retiring on Dec. 31 after 20 years as editor of The Tennessee Journal, the capstone of a career largely devoted to astute observation and reporting on state government and politics since the 1970s.

Ed is 65. His retirement was announced via a brief notice in the current edition of the Journal, which adds that a successor will be named soon.

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Russians behind Twitter account targeting TN?

A Twitter account that the Tennessee Republican Party tried to get suspended was created by a Russian “troll” farm that was trying to influence American political views, according to the Russian magazine RBC.

The Tennessee-targeted account was labeled @TEN_GOP; the real Tennessee Republican Party account is @TN_GOP. Twitter suspended it in August, 2017, about a year after the first request by TNGOP.

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Blackburn turns Twitter rebuff into fundraising effort

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn has been barred from advertising her campaign for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination on Twitter because a line about her efforts to investigate Planned Parenthood was deemed “inflammatory,” reports Politico. Blackburn is using the Twitter rebuff as a theme in her fundraising efforts.

Blackburn, who is running to replace retiring Sen. Bob Corker, launched her campaign last week with a video proclaiming herself “a hard core, card-carrying Tennessee conservative.” In her announcement video, she boasts: “I fought Planned Parenthood and we stopped the sale of baby body parts. Thank God.”

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Four honored by TN Journalism Hall of Fame

News release from Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame

MURFREESBORO-The Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame will honor four outstanding journalists during induction ceremonies Tuesday, August 15, at 4:30 pm during the 69th Conference of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters at Murfreesboro’s Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center. This will mark the fifth class to be inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame located at Middle Tennessee State University.

This year’s inductees include a Vietnam veteran combat reporter who served in Afghanistan, and later reported for the Nashville Banner and Tennessean; a capitol hill retired Bureau Chief who covered Tennessee politics for over 40 years; a retired three time Tennessee Sports Writer of the year; and the first African American news broadcaster who originally planned to earn his master’s degree from Tennessee State University in theater, study drama in New York, but instead became the recognized radio voice for people across multiple southern States via WLAC-AM radio in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Haslam names Reen Baskin as communications director

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Reen Baskin will become the new communications director for his administration, a Cabinet-level position on his senior staff.

“As a trusted and valuable member of this administration since my first year in office, Reen is incredibly talented and hard-working, and I’m excited to have her take on this new role in the administration,” Haslam said. “Her knowledge and experience with the many facets of state government will serve our communications efforts – both internal and external – well.”

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Corker advises Trump to fire everybody involved with leaks to media

Sen. Bob Corker says the Trump administration should fire anyone connected with the leak of information to media such as transcripts of the president’s conversations with foreign leaders that were published Thursday, reports the News Sentinel.

During a press conference in Washington D.C., Corker said he had advised President Donald Trump and John F. Kelley, the new chief of staff, “to fire every single person that’s had anything whatsoever to do with backbiting, undermining other people for their own benefit and leaking – and not to be cautious about it.”

“If there’s even a thought that somebody was involved, get rid of them,” the Tennessee Republican added.

Corker, who has been a staunch ally of the Trump White House, rose his voice and shook his arms while talking about the leaks that have repeatedly brought turmoil to the administration.

“It is unseemly what is happening at the White House right now – or what has been happening,” Corker said. “These people should be fired, they should be out of government — they are disloyal to our government — and I hope that’s what’s gonna happen.”

TN museum staff ‘off the deep end’ in blocking access to public records?

A Tennessee State Museum staffer snatched an agenda packet for Monday’s meeting of the museum’s governing board from a reporter’s hand and declared she would have to file a formal open records request to see one, according to the Nashville Scene.

The reporter was Cari Wade Gervin, who (after the episode) penned an article on the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission’s vote at the Monday meeting to adopt a new code of ethics that former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe,  a member of the board who was absent at the session, labeled “a gag order.” It puts new restrictions on commission members speaking publicly about museum operations. (Previous post HERE.)

Excerpt from the Scene’s report (under a headline declaring, ‘State Museum staff hiding records from public’):

Gervin went to pick up a meeting agenda packet and was informed that she would have to file a written open records request with the Attorney General’s office to see one. When she tried to take a picture of one, it was grabbed out of her hand by Mary Skinner, the museum’s media relations officer. When House Speaker Beth Harwell, a commission member, gave Gervin her copy, museum staff attempted to take that one, too.

To be clear: A state employee attempted to stop a member of the press from reading a public record that should be made readily available to the public. This is actually against the law.

… “It looks like it’s an intentional attempt to keep information from the public,” says Deborah Fisher, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government. “This commission has gone off the deep end.”

Note: Ashe is also a member of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government board of directors. He says notice of the proposal to adopt a new code of ethics was not sent to museum commission members (via email) until 1 a.m. on Sunday morning, when the meeting was scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday.

UPDATE: On Friday, Museum Executive Director Ashley Howell sent out this statement: “In the future, the Tennessee State Museum will proactively provide all members of the media copies of agendas and accompanying materials for each Commission meeting in keeping with the practice of most state agencies. The museum’s management values transparency, and we will work diligently to abide by the state’s open records act.  We appreciate and value the role of the press, and we welcome coverage of museum business.”