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In OC Weekly's criticism of an interview with Huntington Beach Mayor Dave Garofalo, which appeared on KOCE-TV's Real Orange, the Weekly failed to mention what both Ed Arnold and I told a Weekly representative who called us for a comment (Matt Coker's "A Clockwork Orange," July 7). We do not conduct ambush interviews. We made it clear to the Weekly that this interview was confirmed before the accusations against the mayor surfaced. When Garofalo was confirmed as one of the two guests on Real Orange, it was done with the understanding that we would be talking to him about the upcoming Independence Day parade. A few days before the scheduled interview, we asked the mayor if he would be willing to come on the program to talk about the investigation. He agreed to appear on a future interview once the Fair Political Practices Commission finished looking into the accusations and asked that the scheduled interview stay on topic. We also stated, on the air, that Garofalo had agreed to come back on a future edition of Real Orange.
Was this an ideal situation? No. Did we want to ask the mayor questions about his voting record and perceived conflicts of interest? Yes. But as journalists, our word is our bond and our lifeline. If we break it, we lose integrity among our peers and the trust of our viewers. We trust the mayor will return as a guest on Real Orange as promised.
When we spoke to the Weekly, we trusted that the information being gathered was to be used to "clarify" the story as stated by the Weekly representative. That trust was broken.Michael R. Taylor news director, Real Orange, KOCE-TV Huntington Beach Matt Coker responds: Perhaps no one has mentioned this to you yet, but Real Orange isn't exactly "appointment television." The only reason I stopped on KOCE was because Garofalo's mug filled the screen as I was flipping by. "Finally," I thought, "a real news story." As we all now know from your letter, that wasn't the case because you run a news program in which interview subjects get to determine the topics of conversation. By the way, you don't seem to know what an "ambush interview" is. An ambush interview happens when all other means of trying to get a newsmaker's side of the story fail, so the reporter shows up at the subject's home, office or public event and asks the tough questions. You didn't have to resort to an ambush interview because Garofalo was sitting right there in your fucking studio. You say this Fourth of July interview was confirmed before the accusations surfaced. When? 1998? That's when many accusations about Garofalo first surfaced in theHuntington Beach Independent. Those and more started appearing in theWeekly in November 1999. But even if they surfaced the day before taping, nothing should stop you from honoring your bond to your viewers, who rely on you to ask questions on their behalf—and timetable—not Dave Garofalo's.
After reading Nick Schou's piece on Tom Umberg ("Back to Business," June 30), it occurred to me that Umberg must have once kicked sand in Schou's face at the beach. How else can one explain the unfair characterization of the article? So Umberg goes back into the private sector after working in public service. Ah-hah! You've got him, Nick. Never mind that Umberg could have made substantially more money by never going into public service in the first place. All this guy ever did was prosecute drug dealers, serve his country, and beat the likes of Curt "Poll Guard" Pringle before anyone thought it was safe to be a Democrat in Orange County.David Perez Garden Grove Nick Schou responds: Umberg walked out of a government job to exploit contacts he made while on the public payroll. Perez thinks this is natural or even laudable; many of us think cashing in on one's government work—whether a Democrat or a Republican—is part of what's wrong with the system.
Writing as an outsider and a libertarian, I'd say that one reason "Reg editorial directors . . . have been unable to resolve their gung-ho libertarian dogma with the ugly financial realities of the TCA [Transportation Corridor Agencies]" might be that they cannot, in fact, be reconciled (R. Scott Moxley's "A Wreck: Toll-road history under reconstruction," July 7). I make no claims about the particulars of TCA or Register editors. But it sounds to me like an illustration of too little libertarianism. How, exactly, would a government with little money and a strictly limited mandate subsidize anyone? The more money and influence governments have, the more opportunities there are for the well-connected to connect with that money that used to be ours. When a non-subsidized business loses money, that's a shame, but at least it's their money and not ours.Kevin Parker via e-mail