Letters to the Editor

From the week of June 5, 2003

Meanwhile, thanks to Jason Sheehan's Bite Me for a small slice of sanity in the May 29 issue. The French boycott undertaken during our recent nationalistic orgy is not just petty, but also a slap in the face to the concept of democracy. The French government echoed, and acted on, what the French people felt about the war. Shame on those of you who would eschew a government's right to listen to its own people. As Sheehan notes, the effects of this boycott are most likely to be felt here at home by American businessmen rather than in the country of France, anyway.

For my part, I intend to counter this tragedy by taking part in a French buycott. In fact, I've already started! On my recent trip to Europe, I drove my German car to the airport and used Air France as part of my trip to get to my final destination overseas (all flights were full, by the way). I'll continue by enjoying the now-forbidden fruits of excellent French foods and savory French wines far more than I ever did before to compensate for at least one childish American who refuses to accept France as an independent and free country.

Ty Ryan

The Wheel Thing

The limits of the law: Regarding Stuart Steers's " Seize and Desist," in the May 22 issue:

If the administration of this city has any character whatsoever, and the facts are as Stuart Steers states them in his article, and complete, there should be no excuse whatsoever for the city to not fully reimburse the victim of this injustice. Not "the law is the law," not "the budget does not allow it," not "it was an honest mistake," not "as the owner of the vehicle, he is responsible."

Sometimes things have to be done just because they are decent, compassionate, honorable and just.

It has been my observation that when someone falls into a situation such as this, the prevailing attitude is that "the law is the law." Perhaps that is so legally, but no one worthy of calling himself human would be satisfied with that.

Al Begin

Roberts's Rules of Order

Get the Message? We, the undersigned staffers at the Denver Post, were so disappointed with "Post Toasts," Michael Roberts's May 29 Message, that we feel compelled to express our concern in writing. We can't understand how someone who writes about the media and often criticizes perceived shortcomings failed to follow the basic rules of journalism.

In his column, Roberts published a rumor that reporting errors had cost Ryan Morgan, a talented and respected intern at the Post, a permanent slot at our paper. Despite the seriousness of the charge, Roberts offered no facts to back up the claim. He made little effort to contact Morgan -- just one telephone message left at an office Morgan had not occupied for weeks.Roberts's sources were unnamed "rumormongers" -- whom he declined to quote. The one person Roberts contacted about the allegation, Denver Post editor Greg Moore, flatly denied it. Does the denial of a rumor constitute proof at Westword?

We recall that only three weeks ago (in his May 15 column "Coming Attractions"), Roberts criticized media columnists Diane Eicher and Joe Bullard for not naming or seeking comment from Post obituary writer Claire Martin before they disparaged her selection of obituary subjects. Contacting Martin, Roberts wrote, "...would have offered readers more information to use when making their own judgments. A critic might call the result an example of good journalism."

It's unfortunate Roberts doesn't hold himself to the same standards to which he holds others. His cavalier treatment of a young reporter's reputation is infuriating.

We suggest that it's time that Westword re-examine the purpose of The Message and ask whether its media columnist has sound, accurate, unbiased analysis to offer -- or simply an ax to grind.

Kris Hudson, Theo Stein, Allison Sherry, David Migoya, John R. Ingold, Sean Kelly, Mike McPhee, Jeff Leib, Michael Riley, George Merritt, Chris Frates, Amy Herdy, Karen Auge, Gwen Florio, John Wenzel, Dana Coffield, Kristi Arellano, Greg Griffin, Tom McGhee, Peggy Hoffman, Jennifer Beauprez, Steve Raabe, Marsha Austin, Aldo Svaldi, Andy Vuong, Joe Watt, Mike Booth

Smear campaign: "Rumormongers hint." That's all Michael Roberts needs to smear me, smear my work and my career.

For the record: I am not being asked to leave the Denver Post because of "several recent errors," as Roberts asserted in the May 29 Message. That is unambiguously false. Roberts should not have written it, and Westword should not have printed it.

Roberts, as usual, relied on an unnamed source to drag a Denver Post reporter -- me, in this case -- through the mud. Roberts doesn't name or document the allegedly job-ending errors. The only substance he offers his readers is the say-so of an unnamed, completely unaccountable "rumormonger." Westword's readers don't even know if the rumormonger actually passed on the substance of what Roberts printed or if Roberts drew his own, erroneous conclusion from a "hint."

The only person from the Post quoted in the story -- editor Greg Moore -- says the rumor is ridiculous. (I wasn't given a chance to respond, because Roberts's half-hearted, perfunctory effort to reach me failed.) So how can Roberts possibly justify repeating a baseless rumor that can sink a reporter's career?

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