This afternoon the Texas Department of Public Safety released a snarky public statement in response to international news coverage of Snoop Dogg’s photograph with my client, Trooper Billy Spears. I like snark and, in fact, I consider myself a connoisseur, so please allow me to serve some snark of my own.
Instead of admitting that the agency made a mistake, an unnamed DPS media hack returned fire as follows:
In an attempt to correct the misreporting and mischaracterization of events surrounding a photograph of a DPS trooper in uniform with Calvin Broadus, also known as “Snoop Dog” – a convicted drug offender – the department provides the following factual information..
In other words, DPS still thinks it did the right thing by punishing Billy in order to protect the agency’s image from a convicted drug offender [gasp!] like Snoop or Willie Nelson, or for that matter even a plain old felon like Martha Stewart. And DPS says we’re all making a mountain out of a molehill, because what happened to Billy is not really employee discipline. According to DPS, the “counseling record” does not even go into Billy’s permanent personnel file. So here is an excerpt of a response that I provided to the Dallas Morning News:
They’re digging in, which means they’re even dumber than I thought. So where exactly does the “counseling” form go? In his “temporary personnel file” instead of his “permanent personnel file”? I am confident of my sources within DPS, and they are telling me that the form does go into an employee’s file, and that it can hurt an employee’s career. The DPS command staff is obviously making up rules as it goes, e.g., it’s new (and unwritten) rule that troopers cannot be photographed with anyone who has a criminal record, so I am not surprised to learn that they redefining “discipline” on the fly. DPS can call that form “green eggs and ham” for all I care, but if it harms Billy’s career, it’s still employee discipline.
Meanwhile, an unusually reckless and ignorant TV reporter, Reagan Roy of KETK in Tyler, Texas, has seized upon the latest DPS press release as a chance to avenge herself. Yesterday I published an e-mail exchange that I had with Ms. Roy wherein she introduced herself with a series of false accusations and insults, then expected me to call her back for an interview.
Before I comment further about Ms. Roy, let me state my biases up front. I’m an old print reporter, so I am naturally inclined to have a skeptical view of television reporters. I have watched news anchors read my newspaper stories on air, verbatim and unattributed, thus I prefer the term that the British use: “news readers.”
As you can see from Ms. Roy’s original email, she began by making false accusations against me based on the official propaganda that she received from DPS. When I responded to her email, I cc’d about fifteen reporters in Longview and Tyler, including all of her competitors, but when I posted her email to my blog, I omitted her name in an attempt to correct the record without causing her any further embarrassment. (I’ve since updated that post to include her name and station).
Immediately after DPS issued its latest propaganda, Ms. Roy published the DPS press release as proof that I had tried to mislead people about whether Billy was “disciplined.” She also included every bit of irrelevant dirt about me that she could find on the Internet.
It appears that Ms. Roy, like far too many news readers, was hired for her looks and not her brains (much less her ethics). Normally I would link to her “news” story, but then I am not inclined to generate web traffic for the bottom-ranked television station in a relatively small East Texas city, particularly when most people in that city do not watch that station or read its web page. Incidentally, it appears that she carries the title of “news director” only because she is the sole employee in KETK’s purported news division.
Ms. Roy also makes light of the fact that I have questioned whether DPS uses facial recognition software to monitor its employees’ activities on social media. You will recall that I asked DPS that simple “Yes” or “No” question on Monday and was told that DPS would answer on Tuesday. Other journalists subsequently asked the same question on Wednesday. It’s now Friday, and DPS has not responded. If Ms. Roy had the necessary skepticism of a competent journalist, she would wonder why the DPS issued its long press release before answering that simple “Yes” or “No” question.
Y’all have a snarkalicious Easter.