[The following is one part of the Thorns & Roses issue, where we discuss the worst, best and most absurd people, places and things in Kentucky this year]
This page is where every week we deal out Thorns, Roses and Absurds to anyone and everyone in the state (often Gov. Matt “Oblivious” Bevin because he is a thorn machine). Our target also has been Courier Journal, which we love to hate and hate to love. When a thorn is thrust, it always is in good fun, with the goal of making the newspaper better. For this issue of LEO, we thought it would be… fun — or masochistic — to turn over this column to Courier Journal. We asked CJ to give us their best, and the paper agreed to do so, assigning reporter Jeffrey Lee Puckett and metro columnist Joe Gerth… This below is their best?
Baaaaad Nazi | Rose
Eleanor Klibanoff’s September story about Indiana’s favorite Nazi, Matt Heimbach, was a good read and a needed look into how groups such as Heimbach’s Traditionalist Worker Party bend facts into rhetoric.
—Jeffrey Lee Pucket
Nein kampf | Thorn
In the same issue, LEO anticipated reader backlash over a package of stories about hate groups in Kentucky and wrote a note to readers justifying the decision. Why? If LEO believed in the stories, that’s all the justification needed. —Jeffrey Lee Puckett
[a trumpian assessment] | Absurd
Fake news purveyor LEO, which last spring wrote about … uhm, which in the summer covered … uhm …. OK, to be honest, I have no Idea what they have or haven’t covered. Haven’t read the damn thing since Joe Sonka quit three years ago. —Joe Gerth
…Well, we have it on the highest authority, from someone at CJ, that: “Even Joe’s friends say he’s kind of a dick. ;)” So here is a recap of the Thorns, Roses and Absurds for CJ in 2017, in no particular order:
Punchy | Absurd
We have nothing more to say about how The Courier-Journal mishandled the United Airlines story, except that we think someone needs to check what is in the water over there. Columnist Joe Gerth wrote that the doctor “is not the perfect victim,” and “…it’s likely that someone in his history should have punched” him. Who is the perfect victim? Jesus? And we thought punching only Nazis was OK.
Erectoplasm, blowholes | Absurd
An online CJ story about why men get vasectomies during March Madness (so they can take off work) described the vas deferens as “the little buddies that carry erectoplasm from a man’s baby factories to his blowhole…” The version in the paper was toned down.
Class act takes a bow | Rose
Last week, Courier Journal reporter Sheldon Shafer retired after 44 years and 25,000 news articles. We see more bridge and bad jokes in your future, Shel!
The CJ lite | Thorn
We are waiting, CJ, for you to resume arts coverage and a consistent, local op/ed voice. After getting rid of your last arts writer and editorial page director, you now give us non-local, wire arts stories and op/ed pieces, except for greatness from Marc Murphy, Ricky L. Jones, Al Cross and Ben Carter (but please stop printing bizarro columns from the so-called think tanker who wrote: “Universities to blame for opioid crisis and high out-of-wedlock births.”) And, hey… we see you shrank the USA Today section.
Missed opportunity, CJ | Rose & Thorn
A rose goes to CJ detective-reporter Tom Loftus for breaking the story about Bevin’s apparent hush-hush purchase of an Anchorage house at an unusually low cost from a campaign donor who also is an investment banker whom Bevin appointed to a board overseeing billions in investments. A thorn to The CJ for failing to write an editorial on it. But a rose to The Lexington Herald-Leader for writing one.
We’re the CJ | Thorn
We criticize and mock The Courier-Journal whenever we get a chance, with the goal of making it better (and to have a bit of fun). But make no mistake — this newspaper is critical to our community, and it does important work that no other media are doing as well. So it was with deep sadness we learned that The CJ laid off at least three people, including two reporters, one a fabulous arts writer. The layoffs were part of a Gannett-wide plan, so we direct our venom toward this Wall Street-driven clown car of a company. All you CJ haters need to step back.
National Enquirer-Journal | Absurd
The lead story on The CJ homepage Monday was: “What’s Channing Tatum doing in Kentucky?”
No gay-friendly hip-hop | Absurd
The CJ reported that a dance hall opening on Main Street will be “gay friendly.” As opposed to…? And then, it ran a correction saying it had reported the club would “feature hip-hop and other music,” but the operators say it would “focus on themed night formats that offer indie, electro, 80s new wave, classic soul and rock.” Hey, that doesn’t sound friendly!
Get out the torches! | Thorn
The Courier-Journal reported that “Embattled Metro Councilman Dan Johnson’s days in City Hall are numbered …” Really? Doesn’t a council court get to decide that? (We recall Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin’s day in council court ended well for her.) But no, it seems that many people assume Johnson to be guilty of three allegations, one of which was investigated by an ersatz clutch of council members that found… wait for it… no proof he purposely palmed a councilwoman’s tuchus. Johnson is certainly this village’s idiot — his post-allegation remarks prove that. And if we had to bet on it, we might say the odds are he is guilty. But he is entitled to his day in court, and not just in the court of public opinion.
News, not snooze | Thorn
So a neo-Nazi killed a woman in Charlottesville on Saturday afternoon, and the best The CJ could muster for coverage in its print edition was… the USA Today story, one from The Cincinnati Enquirer (buried inside) and… That’s it. No stories on local reaction or plans for rallies here. But we did learn about things to do at the state fair, that the St. Joe’s picnic drew thousands and Left Handers Day deserved almost half a page of text. Isn’t The CJ a newspaper?
Cruel and unusual pun | Thorn
It is bad enough that Clarksville felt it had to kill 200 Canada geese. But then The CJ made light of the animals’ executions, ending a story on the travesty by noting “… their goose was cooked.”