Bombs Away

War is fueling the star power of Colorado's -- and possibly the nation's -- ballsiest military analyst.

Either way, Newman is confident he'll have a job. "The war won't last forever," he says. "But I'll tell you what: It's going to last for a very long time."

Taking a powder: No anthrax has been found in Colorado media offices, but last month there was an anthrax scare at a Rocky Mountain News plant -- one that the paper never reported.

Jim Nolan, spokesman for the Denver Newspaper Agency, which handles business operations for the News and the Denver Post, says that shortly after anthrax was found on the East Coast, a worker at the News's Fox Street press facility (where Westword is also printed) spotted a powdery substance in a room there. The employee reported this to a manager, who called the Denver Fire Department. A haz-mat crew sent to the scene soon discovered that the mysterious material was harmless paper dust.

If words could kill: KOA's Bob Newman.
Anthony Camera
If words could kill: KOA's Bob Newman.

In Nolan's view, this story wasn't newsworthy because "the authorities very quickly determined that there was not anything to worry about. No one was evacuated, and the presses kept running." But the News may have had other motives for keeping things quiet -- like not wanting its customers to worry that picking up the paper would prove fatal.

This wasn't an idle concern. On October 8, after anthrax was identified at Boca Raton, Florida's, American Media Inc., where the offices of the National Enquirer and several other supermarket tabloids are located, a caller to Larry King's CNN talk show asked if readers could be infected with anthrax by touching an issue. AMI tried to squelch such fears with an October 10 press release noting that none of the plants where the Enquirer and its sister publications are printed are located in Florida. "We were also assured by public-health experts that you cannot get anthrax off of the newspaper," adds AMI spokesman Gerald McKelvey. Over the next few days, calls from concerned readers and retailers rapidly diminished, which suggests to McKelvey that it was better to address the issue than dodge it. "Is there any other way?" he asks.

The New York Times took a similar tack after staff writer Judith Miller received a letter filled with powder (it was later shown not to be anthrax); the paper published an item notifying readers that editions aren't printed anywhere near the office where the tainted missive was received. Later, the paper was contacted by numerous readers worried about a powdery substance some found in the pages of the Times's Sunday magazine. As noted by Kathy Park, manager of public relations for the New York Times Company, this substance was "a cornstarch product, an anti-slip agent used in the printing process. It's perfectly safe, but because of the calls we received, we switched to another product that's not powdery in nature." Although the cornstarch derivative is still being used on some inserts and circulars that appear in newspapers across the country, many facilities are following the Times's lead and discontinuing its use.

The New York Post has also been up front about anthrax matters, beginning with a cover photo of an assistant to the paper's editor who developed the cutaneous, or skin, form of anthrax on her middle finger: The shot shows her holding up the bandaged digit in bird-flipping position under the headline "Anthrax This." Spokeswoman Suzi Halpin says the paper made it clear that its printing facility is in the Bronx, not Manhattan, and has kept the public abreast of every development via press releases. On November 1, for instance, one such document stated that "this afternoon, a Post employee who works in the paper's accounting department opened an envelope that appeared to contain a white, powder-like substance." The contents of the letter were still being tested at the time of the release, but the Post didn't use this fact as an excuse to hide the incident.

Still, the DNA's Nolan isn't second-guessing the decision to keep the News's powder scare from the public. As he puts it, "There was absolutely no cause for alarm."

It would have been nice to know that earlier.

Plea, plea, plea: The legal odyssey of Scott McDonald is nearing its end.

On November 5, the former managing editor of Channel 31, who cajoled media figures such as self-proclaimed troubleshooter Tom Martino into making questionable or bogus investments ("OutFoxed," May 10), made a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to securities fraud. McDonald could be sentenced to between four and twelve years in the pokey, but because he has no prior record and has agreed to pay back over $150,000 to victims, he's much likelier to receive probation at his December 21 sentencing. According to McDonald, who admits that he's had a hard time keeping a job because of adverse publicity from the case, "I've acknowledged responsibility for everything I've done up to this point, and now I'm committed to making full restitution to everyone involved."

Leave it to beaver: Make sure you examine the Travel section of the November 4 Denver Post very closely. You could get an eyeful.

The section's cover story, "Jack the Ripper's Walk," features a shot from the movie From Hell showing the Ripper walking away from a female victim lying on a road -- but only after printing up thousands of copies did anyone notice that in the shot, the dead woman's skirt is pushed up, revealing what appears to be the same body part Sharon Stone displayed in Basic Instinct. Technicians later tinkered with the photo to extend the skirt over the corpse's crotch, but there's still a chance some of the more revealing images made it onto the streets.

Talk about a news flash.

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help