Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thursday May 10 Newspaper gets story wrong

Last year, when the protests at the capitol started and Primo became radicalized and all excited about politics and I just wanted it all to be over so life could return to normal and Primo could complain that I didn't spend enough time with him rather than the other way around - trust me, the last thing you want in life is to live in a place of political unrest. It might look interesting from the outside, but it is no fun for the people who are living it.

Where was I? Oh. Right. Last year, Primo made a few trips to the capitol to join the protesters. I did not join him. Draw your own conclusions.

One day, there was a request in the newspaper asking for people whose personal relationships had been affected by the goings-on to call the reporter. Primo had seen it. "Do you mind if I call this reporter?" he asked.

"I don't like the idea," I said. "I have no interest in having my personal life written about in the paper."

I know. I know. You're thinking, But Gold-digger, you write a blog about your life! What do you mean, you don't want your personal life in the media!

Note this. This blog is anonymous. Some of you know me in real life and know who I am, but the random reader who stumbles across this blog doesn't have my real name. Also note that I am the one writing, therefore, I put out only that information that I wish to reveal.

I have not trusted the press for years. In every story where I have known what was really going on, the press has gotten it wrong, which makes me wonder about the rest of what I read.

For example, when I worked for an HMO in Austin, there was a little boy who had an illness that could not be cured. His father worked for the state of Texas. The little boy needed care, but it was not medical care, it was more respite care for the parents and help with everyday things.

The way the contract worked with the state of Texas was that they decided what benefits they wanted covered and told the various HMOs - all of which were offered to state employees - to price those benefits. Got that? The state defined the contract. The state defined what was covered.

One thing that is usually not covered under health insurance and was explicitly not covered in the state contract was custodial care, which was exactly what the boy needed.

Yet the local paper wrote a story excoriating the HMO where I worked for being evil, bad, uncompassionate jerks for not covering the respite care. 1. There was a contract defining what would be covered and what would not. 2. My employer had not even written the contract!

I have other stories about idiot reporters. One wrote a story reporting that because x% of the blood samples taken at the student health center at the University of Texas were HIV positive, that meant that x% of the UT student body was also HIV positive. I hadn't even taken probability and statistics yet but I knew that you couldn't draw that conclusion from that data.

Anyhow. I don't trust reporters. I have no interest in having my name in the paper or being on TV or in being a public figure unless I am controlling exactly what is said about me. Which means I have no interest in ever talking to a reporter because no reporter is going to let me vet what she writes.

But Primo wanted to talk to this reporter. "Having my name out there might be a good thing if I decide to go into politics," he said. Yes. It appears he had been contemplating this move for a long time.

"Fine," I said. "Just leave me out of it. You may refer to your wife, but do not let them put my name in the paper."

I truly do not understand people who crave celebrity. Why one earth would you want everyone in your business? Being known for being really good at something is one thing, but being known just to be known? Not for me, thanks.

He talked to the reporter. I knew who she was. I'd sent a few emails to the editor about her. She was a really bad reporter - didn't get the facts right in her stories. I looked for my emails, but I couldn't find them. But suffice it to say that if I knew off the top of my head that she had x, y, and z wrong about the Episcopal or Lutheran church, that she should have been able to get it right with just a tiny bit of research.

"She's going to screw it up," I told him.

"She was really nice," he said.

"Whatever. She's a crummy reporter."

Sure enough. The story came out. The line about us?

That the protests had put a strain our marriage.

The debate has lit a fire in Primo, adding tension to and putting a strain what already was a politically mixed marriage. A lifelong Polka Dot, Primo went to the protests to check them out, which bothered his wife.

"At first she was happy that I'd found something to be interested in," said Primo. "Now, every time we talk it's a political back and forth. She's resorted to commenting on my Facebook page because she says that's the only way she can say everything she wants to say.

"We might snipe at each other once in a while, but . . .  we love each other and that's the most important thing."

"Did you say that?" I asked curiously. It didn't sound like Primo. "Did you say our marriage was strained?"

He shook his head. "No. That is not what I said to her."

"Then why did she write it?"

He shook his head again. "I told her that you and I don't agree on the protests, but I never used those words. Never."

I believed him. It didn't sound like him and it certainly didn't fit into the narrative he was trying to construct.

When he sent the article to Sly and Doris, even Doris who would have been rejoicing at marital strain and discord and possible imminent divorce, said, "That doesn't sound right at all."

Which is why if I ever have to talk to a reporter, I will have my own tape recorder. I don't trust them (reporters, not tape recorders) as far as I can throw them.


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  2. I certainly agree - on the very few occasions that I have had direct knowledge of a newspaper story, they have indeed got it wrong. Usually on small details, but things that give the story the wrong feel.

    1. KB, sometimes they get the big things wrong, too! I don't know if reporters just aren't very smart or if they have an agenda.