This just in: a night in the lives of D-FW's late night newscasts (Tues., Feb. 19)
02/20/13 01:19 PM
NBC5 Night Ranger Scott Gordon and Hood County's Linda White. Photos: Ed Bark
By ED BARK
It's easy to deride Hood County grandma Linda White, 48, as an ignorant, nicotine-stained, drunken bumpkin who should have the book thrown at her for calling 911 and telling a dispatcher, "I need some cigarettes."
Viewers of Fox4's Tuesday 9 p.m. newscast certainly were encouraged to do that.
But perhaps you came away with an entirely different impression after watching NBC5's account.
This certainly wasn't the biggest news story of the day. But it was a tongue-wagger. And the difference in the tellings was that NBC5 has longtime, nightside pavement-pounder Scott Gordon on its staff. And Fox4 does not.
Fox4 ran the above left mug shot of White, who at 1:18 a.m. on Feb. 11th got herself arrested after using Hood County's emergency line to demand some smokes. It didn't help that she spoke in a slurred voice. White's now out on $1,000 bond while facing a maximum $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail -- or both -- for a Class B misdemeanor offense.
Fox4 reporter Dionne Anglin told viewers that "we tried to reach her at her home, but no one answered the door." And Hood County chief deputy George "Biff" Temple, who also talked to Gordon, rightly said that what White did is no joking matter.
A bit later in the newscast, Clarice Tinsley began one of her Facebook-fueled "Your Turn" segments by saying "Ya'll are burned up." And sure enough, the Facebook commenters all called for White's hide. Fine her. Put her in jail. Take away her cigarettes. Make her suffer.
Anglin is a solid reporter, and she had nothing to do with the Facebook stuff. She also isn't the first, and won't be the last reporter to be beaten to the punch by NBC5's dogged Night Ranger (as he's long been dubbed in these spaces).
Gordon's no pretty boy. He's just a grinder. A guy who can be counted on to come back with the goods far more often than not. He's probably done more late night live shots than Keith Richards. Amiable but dogged, Gordon is long-accomplished in the art of persuading people to talk to him. And if they do, they generally won't be sorry. He'll tell their side fairly, but without being a pushover.
Frankly, I also was disposed to think ill of White -- crucify her!!! -- after first watching Fox4's depiction of her. But then she stood outside her home with her amiable boyfriend and took full responsibility for what she did. Yeah, she pretty much grinned her way through it. But she didn't have an attorney monitoring what she said.
White and her boyfriend were drinking out in the backyard and had a "few beers too many," she said. "I was drunk . . . I'm deeply sorry for what I did."
She retained a sense of humor about not getting her cigarettes. "No, they don't deliver," she said of the police. "They pick up."
White said she hadn't heard the 911 call that's now made the TV rounds. Nor did she remember some of what she said. So Gordon played the tape for her. "I'm embarrassed, you know. That's not me," she then told him. "It was a frivolous call. I shouldn't have done it. But that doesn't make me a bad person."
Gordon said White told him she'd accept whatever punishment she received, and would never do anything like this again.
I have no idea what kind of person she really is. Still, a jail sentence or a heavy fine now seems too harsh to me after seeing White explain herself on camera. She didn't seem coached or scared. She just seemed like an earthy, hardscrabble woman who did something dumb -- as we all do from time to time.
If there's a next time, then of course, throw the book at Linda White. But Gordon may have opened some eyes by being the only reporter to talk directly to her Tuesday. Even some members of Fox4's Facebook brigade might relent if they take the time to watch NBC5's story as well. Here it is:
View more videos at: http://nbcdfw.com.
AND IN OTHER NEWS
WFAA8 investigator Brett Shipp basically has owned the faulty cast iron gas pipe story for the past several years. He's won several major awards for digging in the face of continued energy company resistance. And on Tuesday's 10 p.m. news, Shipp had another lengthy and telling story about this ongoing lethal problem.
His springboard was the Mendez family, all three of whom were seriously injured in the late summer of 2011 when their apartment exploded because of a fracture in a nearby, 80-year-old cast iron gas pipe. Pablo Mendez, five years old at the time, bears the very visible burn scars on his face and soon will have more surgery.
Shipp noted that a Houston energy company has replaced all of its cast iron with PVC piping while Atmos energy still supposedly has 841 miles of mostly underground cast iron piping throughout Texas. Atmos again wouldn't do an on-camera interview with Shipp, but issued a statement saying it has a "pro-active pipe replacement program" and is ever-vigilant when it comes to consumer safety.
***Fox4 consumer reporter Steve Noviello seemed to have a grand time -- vocabulary-wise at least -- with a story on Wrangler's new Denim Spa jeans. They're supposed to keep cellulite in check via various chemicals embedded in them.
Can the jeans really keep "your body and your booty bangin'," Noviello wondered. Can they waylay "those dreaded dimples?"
A dermatologist basically said no. Over and over. And Noviello got in one more lick, referring to "these tush-tightening trousers" that Wrangler can't seem to keep in stock despite the naysayers. It wasn't one of his more useful efforts.
***All four stations of course gave prominent top-of-the-newscast play to the impending cold, inclement weather, But NBC5 co-anchor Brian Curtis and meteorologist Rick Mitchell stood alone at the top of the hyperbole heap.
"Rick, walk us through the next 24 hours. What can we expect here?" Curtis commanded seconds into the newscast.
"It's kind of a witch's brew of everything," Mitchell said.
Over on WFAA8, weathercaster Pete Delkus took his jacket off for starters. None of his contemporaries did, but this again was reason enough for our impressionable cat Snickers to immediately bolt for cover. A shirt-sleeved Pete is still her red alert, and there's just no talking her down.
***CBS11 co-anchor Doug Dunbar had an interesting one-on-one interview with Mark Kelly, who was in D-FW for a speaking engagement. He's the now familiar-faced husband of former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who has survived a gunshot wound to the head in January 2011 and now is helping her husband push for stricter gun regulations.
"He may have shot Gabby in the head, but he did not dent her spirit," Kelly said.
Post-interview, Dunbar modestly told co-anchor Karen Borta there was "nothing earth-shattering" during the interview. Um, Doug, for future reference, the laws of TV news require you to wait for someone to say, "What a fascinating interview" before you humbly thank them. Just kidding. Kinda.
***Also on CBS11, i.Team newcomer Brian New had a pretty good story, but "nothing earth-shattering," on the estimated $2.6 billion in unclaimed property available in bits and pieces to unaware Texans. You simply go to claimtexas.org and see what might be waiting for you.
New hooked up with a man who still had $500 remaining in an old checking account. And a woman who discovered she still had a $200 paycheck waiting to be claimed. But another young man, also shown on camera, discovered he had just 25 cents coming to him.
Dunbar said he checked out claimtexas.org during New's story and found that he, Borta and forecaster Larry Mowry had all come up empty.
Same here. But I think my wife may possibly be owed $1.58 from the late 1990s. Honest. I can't wait to tell her. And demand a finder's fee.