by Max Brantley
There's been a bit of a dustup at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today.
State editor Marilyn Mitchell, (pictured) who is married to assistant city editor Jack Mitchell, resigned today with a blast at her perception of sexist atmosphere at the newspaper.
We're told by multiple sources that Mitchell had an argument in the newsroom with a superior a few days ago about decisions on storm coverage. Multiple sources also say that Mitchell, who came to the paper last August, wasn't widely liked herself.
Mitchell's blast to all staff members prompted an all-staff response from veteran political editor Bill Simmons to her remarks about alleged managers' references to penis size, blonde bombshells and racially derogatory terms.
A newspaper spokesman declined an opportunity to comment. Mitchell did not return a call.
Head to the jump.
Subject: Fuck the glass
Date: February 14, 2008 8:36:31 AM CST
Cc: to-all-LR, to-all-NW
All I wanted to do at this newspaper is to do a good job. I came here because I thought it was a good newspaper. But, it's not. It's a good ole' boys club made up of old white males. Nobody else has a voice. This is a newspaper in which: The city editor can verbally abuse another editor in the presence of the managing editor and nothing is done. The managing editor in a news meeting slugs a potential 1A story as blonde bombshells - a story in which bombs were strapped on two retarded foreign women and sent into a crowd. Male editors are allowed to talk about penis size during news meetings. Editors call Hispanics wetbacks in news meetings Editors are proud to call blacks niggers in news stories. A city editor gets his feelings hurt over coverage of a story and I'm penalized for it. The managing editor is a bald face liar and the executive editor doesn't give a damn. So to "the glass," I resign effective immediately. Marilyn Mitchell
From: Bill Simmons
Date: February 14, 2008 10:11:20 AM CST
To: Marilyn Mitchell, To-All
Subject: Re: Fuck the glass
As an old white male, let me offer a few thoughts for perspective (and not
to set off an onslaught of similar missives):
1. In my dozen years here, I have NEVER seen anybody (editor or otherwise)
"proud" that the "n-word" was used anywhere. I can't say nobody was, because
I can't be everywhere all the time, but I can say I NEVER saw anybody
manifest any such attitude when I was around.
2. The reference to "wetbacks" has a history -- a history of disagreement
over whether the term is acceptable in any usage, with most editors here
believing it is not. Sometimes the term is used in derision of the view that
using it is acceptable, not in furtherance of its use.
3. I suppose some males will discuss penis size in the news meetings (boys
being boys), and I have heard in long ago meetings some remarks that were
offensive. But this hasn't happened in any recent news meeting that I
attended and it is not appropriate to convey the idea that this is standard
practice in the meetings.
4. The "blonde bombshells" complaint omits the fact that every day some
quipish summary of each leading news items of the day's leading is posted on
the board. When the governor makes a speech, it may be "Beebe's lips move."
When an Al Quaida leader was blown up by a car bomb, it was "Bad Guy Goes
Boom!" And political in-fighting in Pakistan will become "Pakitics." And so
on. The reference to "blonde bombshells" had no sexist nuance that I
perceived, any more than "Econ Tanks" (a summary of a downturn in the
economy) was expressing approval of a recession or anything else. Practicing
humor has its risks, and one of them is being misperceived and distorted.