Thursday, November 01, 2007

Gannett Should Fire Ryerson

Today, Star editor Dennis Ryerson made the unthinkable mistake of showing up at what was nothing more than a staged political rally for Mayor Bart Peterson (D) and Marion County Democratic leaders to gin up the city's black vote before next Tuesday's election. There he stood, grim-faced, publicly announcing the firing of RiShawn Biddle to the applause of the Democratic faithful gathered. I wouldn't have believed it if my own eyes hadn't watched a WISH-TV video of today's publicity stunt by the city's Democrats. There was Ryerson standing next to Mayor Bart Peterson and Rep. Bill Crawford, offering these remarks:

This is not our standard, and I can't talk about what happened in great detail because it's a personnel matter and I'm sure you appreciate that. I can tell you this. The person is no longer working with the newspaper. (Audience Applauses)
This is a personnel matter and Ryerson has no business appearing at a staged political rally discussing it in any way, shape or form. He did his job. He issued a public apology to Star readers within 24 hours of learning of Biddle's controversial post. He removed the offensive blog posting from the Star's website. And he fired Biddle. He had no business airing the matter at this political rally to score points with certain black leaders. He totally crossed the boundaries separating journalism from politics. By showing up at today's staged event, Ryerson was doing nothing more than lending a hand to the Democrats' efforts to polarize and anger black voters in hopes of increasing their voter turnout next week for Peterson and the Democratic ticket. Ryerson's tenure at the Star has been a complete joke with one personnel problem after another. The newspaper has lost its best journalists over the past several years. Those within the organization who are good are just waiting for a better opportunity to come along.

Take a look in the video at who was there in addition to Peterson and Crawford. There was County Auditor Billie Breaux (D), CCC President Monroe Gray (D) (not at work again), Councilor Joanne Sanders (D), Councilor Paul Bateman (D), Councilor Bill Oliver (D), Councilor Vernon Brown (D), County Treasurer Mike Rodman (D), County Coroner Kenneth Ackles (D), Sen. Glenn Howard (D) and a collection of black ministers and purported community leaders. It sure looked like businessman Bill Mays on the front row as well. Some may recall Biddle earned his enmity after he attacked Mays and other African-American leaders for pursuing the 300 East bar in the Julia Carson Government Center. The irony is that none of these people complained when the Democratic council's legal counsel, Aaron Haith, called Abdul Hakim-Shabazz the grandson of Willie Lynch just weeks ago. Last time I checked, the Democrats still employed Haith. That should tell you something about these people's motivations.

Now think about it, Mr. Ryerson. What the hell were you thinking by showing up at this event? You are an embarrassment to the Gannett newspaper empire. Would someone please show him the door?


Anonymous said...

The Star caved to political grand standing the week before an election.

The Democrats have always hated this reporters views. So much for a diverse point of view.

Next they will go after Abdul.

Anonymous said...

"The blog referred to Gray and other city Democrats using language that both the Star's editor and elected officials called offensive and unacceptable"

So is Democrat State Senator Howard an "elected official"?

Is Aaron Haith an appointed city "official" on the CCC? He seems to hold power.

If so why is it OK for Howard to refer to African Americans as "NIGARS"

Why is it OK for Haith to call another AA "Willie Lynch’s grandson"?

Has Peterson fired Haith?

Has the Democrat cactus on the State Senate censured Howard?

NO! Hypocrites all.

Wilson46201 said...

Thank heavens there are unelected Republican attorneys like this blogmaster to tell the African-American community leaders what's best for them!

Anonymous said...

I think there should be a rally in support of Rishawn Biddle!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Not only should Gannett fire Ryerson, but the citizens of Indianapolis should immediately cancel their Indy Star subscriptions and boycott the Star's advertisers!

I know I am starting with my Macy's card!

Anonymous said...

My! my! my! The stupid democraps still play the old game of race baiting to motivate black voters to get out and vote. This tired bunch of Negroes are still living in the "1960s". Looks like Peterson has fallen for the "okay dokay."

Since when is it that one member of the African American community can not criticize or identify corrupt black leaders and call them out. To hell with Bart Peterson holding a press conference with the same "house Negroes, who have sold out the black community over the past 50 years.

I am curious to know if Mr. Burris received permission from the national NAACP to exploit the organizations name in this mess. I am cancelling my membership after I write a letter to the national office.

As for Rep Bill Crawford, the black elected official who screwed the black church, minority and women owned businesses in the 2007 session of the general assembly with legislaltion he sponsored.

Amos Brown does more race baiting on WTLC, than anybody I know. But he promotes all of these corrupt democraps as well, so he is protected.

Julia Carson has lied and smeared her opponents over the years and nothing was ever said or done about her conduct in public office.

Glenn Howard runs his mouth about people around the town and he is nothing more than a joke as a legislator.

Any and all white democrats who do not support these fools are labled "racist" to black voters when they run for office. The pressure game is played every election by the members of the Ghetto Mafia. They extort money out of these candidates for them to receive their support.

Many African Americans agree with the article Rishawn Biddle wrote, but they don't have the forum to express their views. Indepnedent thinking blacks support his views.

Anonymous said...

As a Democrat who will be voting for the Mayor, I couldn't agree with you more.

Ryerson had no business at that rally in that capacity, and if Gannett had any shred of journalistic integrity... oh, wait. Nevermind.

Anonymous said...


I think it is a valid point that Dennis Ryerson should not have been appearing at a political rally to publicly discuss an HR matter between Gannett and Mr. Biddle (who should have been let go for what he wrote). While it might not have been an overt violation of employment privacy laws, it definitely skirts pretty close to the line.

Not pointing out the irony of Mr. Ryerson appearing on behalf of Monroe Gray, whose opponent the Star endorsed in the upcoming election, there is a troubling problem Ryerson has opened his paper up to. How on earth can people expect the Star to provide objective oversight to City Government when its editor is appearing at a partisan political rally? The absence of even a cursory investigation into the Aaron Haith/Abdul confrontation is more glaring considering Ryerson's near run public display of crocodile tears about Mr. Biddle.

Mr. Biddle's firing was appropriate. The website apology was appropriate. Appearing at a political rally four days before an election is NOT appropriate.

Anonymous said...

well, bart you doing whatever you can to try to get out your black base. at the same time, you continue to alienate thinking, well informed black, white, and other people who are aware that there is more going on that what is in your commercials, mailing, or made for tv events such as this.

yeah, your stunt today is really bringing people together.

Anonymous said...

Lets see...where do I begin? You infuriate Military Vets by allowing O'Conner to call Col. Ballard a "Pencil Pushing Pu**y", and then you alienate the middle class working hard Blacks and Whites in this county with your energize the base stunt made for TV....hmmmm...I am not a political scientist but...oh wait a minute yes I am! pissed off the VETS and moderates of both sides of the aisle and insult our intel daily...You have managed to guarantee yourself 90% of the AA vote that will turnout about 25% at best....GOP will now turnout at better than 60% with people crossing over the aisle to oust your administration and take back the council to save this city from your inept and downright rude behavior....Your "let them eat cake" mentality has cost you your political career..and I for one will not miss you. And I will never buy a home or rent office space from you or your family ever!

Hey..can you find Wilson a job...he is going to have a lot of time on his hands....You will have no legacy! Good ridance!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Gary. This is incredibly disappointing.

The Democrats have every right to hold a political rally, but this was not the forum for Ryerson to address what happened with RiShawn.

If anything, if the Star was to be involved in any community event regarding the use of race/racial terms in the Star or the political dialogue in general, then it should have been totally nonpartisan with members of both parties present.

The assumption that Tom John, R council members or Rs in general are not interested in the journalistic standards employed at the Star is offensive.

It seems to me that Ryerson's behavior indicates he does not truly grasp what the actual problem is with what RiShawn did. Which is really sad. The Star ought to be doing some soul searching about what their role and that of their journalists should be in the Indy community and what kind of review/standards need to be in place to acheive that role.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Good point, Erin. I don't know how Ryerson can explain how Biddle managed to put up the post without someone vetting it. I would assume the Star has in place a process for vetting the writing of even editors. If they did, then how did Biddle's post make it through in its original form. If they didn't have a vetting process, then why not. It seems Ryerson is ultimately the person responsible for this mess whether he endorsed what Biddle said or not. The Star's own editorial position on Monroe Gray has been completely consistent with Biddle's comments, save the racially-offensive comments.

Bart Lies said...

It's surprising that Aaron Haith wasn't there. Just in case someone asked Monroe a question.

Evidently the irony in such an appearance outweighed the potential for Monroe to stick his foot in his mouth.

Monroe looked to be dressed for golf, not for work, so perhaps Aaron already was off renting the golfcart so they'd get their game underway as soon as Monroe could break away from the show.

Anonymous said...

I though Biddle was a jerk but the way this has played out makes me sick to my stomach. If I hadn't canceled my subscription to the Star long ago because of their bias, I certainly do it now!

Anonymous said...

Didn't Tully have a ranting column about Mitch Daniels a while back that did some name calling?

I believe Tully still works for the Star as a political columnist.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Gary, could you do us a favor and find an address and an e-mail address at Gannett?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Here's an e-mail address for Gannett:

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I don't think this will rally the black vote one bit. Even us blacks in center township are tired of being handed the chittlings instead of the pork. Can't get the Mayor to come down here when we need him, but he jumps at a chance to anger us into voting for him. Let's ride this one out. He's lost some ground by accusing Black pastors as being corrupt.

Anonymous said...

I dont think Gannett should fire Ryerson, but he should resign himself. As supervisor for Biddle, Ryerson is as much at fault for the racist screeds publication. Authority to post can be delegated, but the responsibility and accountability of a subordinates work is never delegated from the supervisor.

However, in that Ryerson never served a day in the military, this theory of leadership to him is just that. PS- If anyone thinks I am advocating that military service makes one a cut above the rest of society, they are right in their presumption.

Anonymous said...

10:01, now that you've had time to think about what you've posted, do you want to retract it?

You really think military service makes anyone a cut above everyone else?

I'm as patriotic as anyone. Dad, grandpa, uncles--all vets. I couldn't--asthma. I admire military service. It does not uniformly produce solid veterans, however.

Evidence the recently-reduced academic standards. This president has so decimated the military's ranks, that they're paying huge bonuses for re-upping, just to keep their numbers decent. And the new recruits, well...their IQ can now be the lowest it's ever been.

I think there are other professions whose alumni equal or surpass veterans in terms of molding good citizens: teachers, clergy, social workers, coaches, nurses, and 95% of the receptionists in America, who put up with more grief than they should.

Oh yeah--STOP THE PRESSES. Alert Wall Street, where Federated stock will surely drop today. Melyssa is cutting up her Macy's card to protest something at the Star.

Convoluted protest, huh?

Jeff Cox said...


You ask how Biddle's comments could have not been vetted by the Star. Maybe they were indeed vetted.

I'm wondering if Ryerson actually got Biddle to post this to rile up the black vote for Peterson in the final days. The bizarre nature of Biddle's post, Ryerson showing up at the rally and the uncertainty surrounding what exactly happened to Biddle (fired? resigned? what?) hints at the possibility.

And, yes, that means I'm wondering if there was some sort of plan by Ryerson to help Peterson. No hard evidence of it, but certainly some of the circumstantial variety.

Is anyone else wondering?

Sir Hailstone said...

"Is anyone else wondering?"

You are indeed more cynical than I.

I'm not intimately familiar with the newspaper business but I was under the impression NOTHING was written and published without being vetted by an editor. So who vetted RiShawn's column of question?

Am I correct or not? Ms. Holliday? Anyone?