By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A laugh-out-loud take on Chuck Turner

Adam Gaffin presents “Quite possibly the worst column that will ever be written about Chuck Turner.” Which can only mean one thing: Joe Fitzgerald is writing again. You’ve got to love Fitz’s shoutout to Louis Farrakhan.

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  1. O-FISH-L

    The real “problem” with Joe Fitzgerald’s writing wouldn’t be that he is pro-life, pro-marriage and a devout Catholic, would it? Joe is the skunk at the media’s garden party. Laugh out loud, Dan? I think the joke’s on you.As usual, Fitzgerald’s column is spot on. Gaffin seems to struggle with this passage more than any other, “Even if he beats the rap, Turner has blown the chance to be what’s so urgently needed today, a leader to emulate, worthy of a kid’s admiration.”Fitzgerald is correct, not because as Gaffin suggests, “even if he is innocent, he is guilty,” but because Chuck Turner long ago squandered any remnants of integrity. Apparently Gaffin is a newcomer or has been wearing blinders. Be it the tax evasion, nine license suspensions, the fraudulent pictures intended into impugn our brave US military men and women during wartime, you name it. Regardless of the verdict in the current matter, Turner is already a disgrace.Fitzgerald wasn’t saying that Farrakhan is a public figure to emulate either, he merely pointed out that even Farrakhan “gets it” while Turner and his supporters don’t. Fitzgerald and Carr are the two remaining reasons to buy the Herald. As they go, so goes that newspaper.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Fish! For the love of God! Joe Fitz is saying that Chuck Turner, unlike Louis Farrakhan, is not a good role model. If anyone else on the planet had written that, you’d be down his throat.

  3. O-FISH-L

    Dan, I’ve always scored well on reading comprehension tests so either I’m slipping or Fitzgerald isn’t saying what you think he is. In mocking Fitzgerald, you become a laughingstock yourself.Clearly, Fitzgerald is embracing the message and not necessarily the messenger. e.g. “But on this evening in 1994 he had returned as the leader of the Nation of Islam, widely revered or deeply reviled, depending on who was telling the story.”I’m sure that’s why Fitzgerald goes on to quote Carl McCall as well, someone less controversial with the same message. In this case my take on Farrakhan is similar to my reaction when inmates involved in fatal DWIs visit high schools around prom time. You may not like the inmate but what he is saying is indisputable.Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Whether or not he is one himself, Farrakhan was right in ’94 in Boston urging black men to become role models. Turner has failed miserably, regardless of the outcome of his latest transgression.

  4. Bill H.

    Fish, I think the point is that, although Fitzgerald’s ideas may have some merit, his piece is poorly written. That is really bad writing, the kind of one word after another–what’s my word count and how much space do I still have to fill?–tribulation one would expect to read in a high school essay rather than in the pages of a big city newspaper. I can tell you it’ll be a dark and stormy night before I read Fitzgerald again.

  5. O-FISH-L

    Bill, I disagree that Gaffin’s point is that the column was poorly written. While the Bulwer-Lytton reference goes to poor writing, if you read the 4:49 PM comment from Adamg (presumably Gaffin) it’s all about the content.”What Fitzgerald is then saying is that an entire lifetime of work goes down the drain (let’s make another assumption: That you agree that Turner has a lifetime of work to be proud of) because of somebody else’s mistake/grab for power. If anything, that should make some people even more willing to grow up to be Turner, especially given that the civil-rights movement, which Turner claims to be carrying on, is filled with case after case of people being unjustly accused. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”Similarly, Dan Kennedy comments on the apparent contradiction of Farrakhan as role model, not on Fitzgerald’s writing style. Neither critic discusses Turner’s pathetic record before the current quandary. There seems to have been a typo or Herald editing error in Fitzgerald’s attempt to write “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Other than that, it’s the writer and not the writing who the critics really loathe here.

  6. Ani

    I don’t know, what should a column on male African-American role models for kids say in the wake of the Turner scandal(s)? Has the topic been addressed elsewhere? My reaction is that it’s a reasonable topic, and if someone wants to treat it in a different way, go for it. I don’t know what kids are supposed to think, with Patrick in the governor’s office, Obama about to be in the White House, Turner arrested, Rangel of NY being investigated on a number of issues — I don’t know what I think myself. But I don’t think we are yet at the point that you mentioned, Dan, (on Beat the Press) would be a watermark, the point at which the “firing” of a black official would not cause any different reaction from the reaction to the firing of a white official (if I understood your point correctly).

  7. Amused

    I am not a Joe Fitz fan, much to the contrary. But I find the criticism of his column — and in particular criticism based on Farrakan’s 1994 meeting — to be the rather hackneyed product of knee-jerk pack journalism, devoid of reasonable, informed and mature analysis.It became an automatic talking-point that Farrakhan is somehow evil and therefore in any discussion of when Farrakhan held that 1994 meeting, he must be ripped, or liberal use must be made of quotes from others ripping him, usually it’s for holding a “men only” meeting, but over time the objection is based more on Farrakhan’s mere existence.But many contemporary accounts of what actually happened at the meetin itself (as opposed to the quick quote-and-out coverage of the “controversy”) are right in line with Fitzgerald’s recollection. Farrakhan told black men to start acting like men, and to take responsibility for their community. It was intended as a man-to-man challenge, but at the time that was buried in coverage of the “controvesial meeting,” held by a “controversial leader” and the “community outrage” that followed. Unfortunately, the failure to grasp what the meeting was all about has been perpetuated, more as folklore than as responsible journalism.The facts of what happened are so very inconvenient to people eager to make snide remarks about Fitzgerald’s recollection of what really happened; referring to it as a “shoutout” (what the hell does that mean anyway? Looks like a pointless cheap shot to me.) Instead, we are offered rather pedestrian analysis, based entirely on a rather pliant and unquestioning eagerness to give credence anti-Farrakhan spin and hyperbole, and thereby ignoring what actually happened.We have “media critics” blasting Fitzgerald for noting Turner’s acceptance of the challenge posed 18 years ago by Farrakhan. In reality, Fitzgerald focused on Turner’s abandonment of that challenge after becoming a community leader. This doesn’t square with the spitback popular wisdom, that Turner should be resolutely condemned and referred to only as a) a crook and b) a nut for ranting about his zipper.Fitzgerald, to his credit, captures the essence of the Turner scandal for the community — the lost opportunity and abandoned leadership; while also taking note of the tragedy of the scandal for the individual and the fundamental failing that the scandal represents for one who lost not only whatever integrity he had as an elected official, but who also compromised his integrity as a man who signed onto the challenge presented by Farrakhan back in 1994 — and how commitment was tossed into the scrap heap in return for a few pieces of silver.Fitzgerald raises some important points when discussing Turner. Far from “the worst column that will be written,” it has, ironically, inspired some of the worst media criticism that I have ever seen — kneejerk reaction, failure to analyze the reviewed story in context, and a rush to be part of the buddy club that pig-piles on the criticism of others, rather than offering reasoned opinion and analysis.

  8. mike_b1

    I read it. It was poorly written. And, racist. Why is it that when a black man in power fails, it’s extrapolated to represent a failure for the entire black community. No one claims that when, say, Spiro Agnew took bribes, that he failed the white community, or when Traitor John McCain writes a bill to cover up the government’s tracks in regard to the Vietnam POWs, that he has let down the entire military.

  9. O-FISH-L

    Mike_b1: When one-third of all inmates under state or federal jurisdiction are under 30 years old and black (Bureau of Justice Statistics) and only 34% of black children are being raised by married couple parents (US Census Bureau), then Rev. Farrakhan is right to insist that adult black men start to “become pillars of the community, men of stature, men of substance, men to whom younger men could look for guidance by the power of their examples.”Chuck Turner became a man of stature but failed to lead by example. It’s not racism, it’s the truth. In fact, racism requires the belief that one’s own race is superior, so how exactly was Farrakhan being racist in his speech to other black men? Or was Fitzgerald being racist for merely reporting what what Farrakhan said? With blacks in the White House and Corner Office, it’s comforting to know that racism is dying, while Chuck and Di are the exception not the rule.

  10. mike_b1

    Turner didn’t take money because he’s black; he took it because he’s crooked. Fitzgerald and others like him are racist for making a big deal about how Turner failed as a role model for blacks. Where the hell’s his column about how Marzilli failed as a role model for whites?And no kidding lots of blacks are in prison. Why? One big reason is because white judges are much more likely to throw the book at blacks than at whites. Also racist. By your statements, only blacks are responsible for the welfare of other blacks. You’re just as racist as the judges.

  11. Ani

    I think that most white people in this country have no real understanding of what it’s like to live as a black person in this country, and that many white people also don’t realize that they really don’t understand it.

  12. Dan Kennedy

    Marzilli is also an extremely poor role model for socialists.The word gets carelessly thrown around so much that I like to use it when someone actually is one. 😉

  13. bob gardner

    In a city where Jimmy Kelly was a role model, I think the bar has been set pretty low. After all, Chuck Turner hasn’t been acting as a go between for organized crime, has he?

  14. Dan Kennedy

    I’ve re-read the column. I’ll now concede there’s a possibility Joe Fitz started out writing about Louis Farrakhan, got distracted by someone holding a shiny red ball in front of him, and then forgot what he was writing about and randomly typed a couple of paragraphs on Chuck Turner.

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