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Morning News Responds to Dam Questions

On Wednesday, Eric put up a post that asked several questions about the DMN’s recent story on the Lewisville Dam. Doug Swanson was the editor of that story. He has sent along responses to each of Eric’s questions. I am going to repost each of those questions, along with Swanson’s responses, which I’ve indented. Swanson says that anyone with further questions is welcome to contact him at

1. The only named Army Corps person in the story who supports its thesis — basically, that we’re all gonna die in a 65-foot wall of water if we don’t do something pronto — is a former employee. Did any current employees, even on deep background, support this theory?

SWANSON: It’s true that the person quoted is identified as a former Corps employee. However, when the story was first being reported, some months back, he was the dam safety program manager for the Corps district, as the story says. In fact, he’s wearing a shirt with a Corps logo in the video posted on the DMN website. He left the Corps, under favorable circumstances, to work in the private sector.

He is just one of numerous Corps employees who confirmed the 65-foot wall of water figure. The Corps figure was not based on “theory.” It was based on a host of inundation studies performed by the Corps and by consultants working for the Corps.

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American Sniper Widow Taya Kyle Sells Guns on Fox News

Yesterday Fox News aired this segment with Taya Kyle, widow of ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle, about a friendly shooting competition/charity event held over the weekend between herself (a novice shooter) and the NRA world champion.

Would it surprise you to learn that Kyle won? Would it surprise you to learn that she won because she was using a TrackingPoint Precision Guided Firearm, which, in the words of the “journalist” interviewing her, “give novices, as well as professionals, a lot of advantages.”

(H/T Bud Kennedy)

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Leading Off (12/9/15)

Increasing Threats Against North Texas Muslims. Historians will look back at this period, and specifically this area, and wonder which came first: the awful politicians or the awful citizens? Of course, when someone is being terrible, espousing xenophobic or racist beliefs, the correct response should be telling the racist, “You ain’t no American.” And we’ll just let the historians decide how accurate that statement proves.

Irving Bus Driver Fired After Giving Ring to Student. The district didn’t release the names of anyone involved, but says an investigation revealed that the driver also “made inappropriate statements” to a high school student. I know it’s not fair, but this won’t do much to help the great reputation Irving seems to building.

winstar steals good acts from dallas. Local talent bookers are reportedly struggling to compete against the massive pull of the casino across the Oklahoma border. The problem isn’t just that Winstar can offer “A-list talents” like Jerry Seinfeld or Bob Dylan boatloads of money, subsidized by gambling profits, it also locks performers down with radius and time clauses. Meaning Seinfeld won’t be performing anywhere else within 100 miles of Winstar anytime soon.

Stars Beat Hurricanes, Remain Awesome. Dallas blew a four-goal lead in the third period, then scored to take the lead back with 18 seconds left on the clock. The victory puts them at 21-5, two wins above the next best teams in the league.

Linda Ellerbee, Whose Career Launched After AP Dallas Night Desk Snafu, To Retire

Linda Ellerbee has announced her retirement. The veteran newswoman was a model for the title character in the TV sit-com Murphy Brown, wrote a best-selling book about her career in television, and left the news biz to find success in a second career at Nickelodeon, where she ran the Emmy Award-winning youth news program Nick News for 25 years. She was one of the first prominent women in the TV news business — a trailblazer, a pioneer, a visionary. And it all might not have happened for Ellerbee had she not made a major rookie mistake while working the night desk at the Associated Press in Dallas in the early 1970s:

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Leading Off 12/2/15

Police Investigating Incident at Cowboys Thanksgiving Game. Arlington police are looking into disturbing footage of security personnel choking a Panthers fan before kicking him out of last Thursday’s game. On multiple videos, you can see fans of both the Cowboys and Panthers (and what looks like a Bears fan) trying to stop the security team from choking John Small. Small, 24, says he and his mother flew to Texas for the game to help get their minds off the death of Small’s father, one year ago that day.

Accused Dog Killer Cries in Court. Bradley Glenn Boley began to cry yesterday as prosecutors showed photos of the two-and-a-half-month-old puppy that Boley allegedly trapped on top of a stove. Jurors saw photos that showed the dog “had black plastic melted to his legs, nose, ears and face. In other parts, his white fur had been burnt and tinged brown.” Boley faces up to 10 years in prison.

Buc-ee’s Coming to Denton. The city council there voted last night to approve an $8 million, 22-year tax incentive plan that would bring a Buc-ee’s Travel Center to I-35E. Some argued against the deal, citing worries of pollution and congestion. Others argued the chain’s clean bathrooms and 96 gas pumps will bring business and tax revenue. (Side note: In reporting this story, about a 10-year-old stand up comic, I learned that Buc-ee’s is also a child’s birthday party destination.)

Video Shows Deputy Trying to Save Woman in Flood. Zenola Jenkins was just a mile from home when her car was swept up in flood waters last week. The 76 year old called her daughter three times from the car, and her family called 911. Tarrant County Deputy Krystal Salazar waded into the water to try to save Jenkins, with family members watching, when rushing waters carried the deputy over the guard rail and off the bridge. She was found clinging to a tree downstream hours later.

Have You Seen a Vintage Red Mustang Convertible? A thief was caught on surveillance footage in Lake Highlands, pushing a stolen car down the street around 5 a.m. before starting the engine and driving off.

What the Dallas Morning News Should Do About That Gag Order in Anderson County

The Dallas Morning News has a very solid editorial today, about the ridiculous gag order from the judge in the case of a man accused of murdering six people at a campsite near Palestine. The paper explains that State District Judge Deborah Oakes Evans issued an egregious order demanding journalists not photograph the defendant in the case, William Hudson, nor report anything discussed at the public hearings. The editorial calls the order “wrongheaded” and “unconstitutional,” which is probably going easy on the judge. It also lists several big court decisions that make it clear that any kind of prior restraint should be the absolute last measure, taken only when “the evil that would result from the reportage is both great and certain and cannot be mitigated by less intrusive measures.”

There is no indication in this case that reporting what is transpiring in a public court would cause any evil at all.

Remember how crazy people — especially media people — went when that University of Missouri professor tried to keep journalists from reporting in a public area? This gag order is exponentially worse. And it’s from the government. In Texas!

While that editorial is a good (late) start, here’s what the DMN should do:

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Dallas Morning News May Raise Third Paywall in 2016

Warning: some insider-y media business baseball ahead. In an interview with NetNewsCheck, Dallas Morning News publisher Jim Moroney says the paper will, for the third time, attempt to raise revenues by offering some of its content only to paid online subscribers. Moroney admits that the first two attempts at introducing a paywall at the DMN weren’t executed very well, and he doesn’t see paywall strategies as a savior for the ever-struggling newspaper industry. But he still believes a paywall can be part of an overall diversification of the paper’s revenue base:

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Gordon Keith Belatedly Learns of Major Journalism Award

Sharon Grigsby yesterday posted an item about a major award won by the DMN and radio talk person Gordon Keith. (Full disclosure: Gordon has been in my kitchen.) Gordon took first place in the Best of the West contest, for general interest column. I sent Gordon a note congratulating him and was preparing to post something similar here — when I realized that he won this award back in August. Strange, right? Here’s what happened:

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Three Questions About That Linda Septien Article in the Dallas Observer

I just read the Observer’s cover story this week. It’s a profile of Linda Septien, who is a voice coach and star maker responsible for a long list of pop performers you’ve heard on Radio Disney. Three things about that story jumped out at me:

1. Septien is 62 years old? Holy cow. She looks great for even 42.

2. Did the Observer not see Skip Hollandsworth’s 2006 profile of Septien in Texas Monthly?

3. Even if the Observer didn’t see that 2006 profile, did the paper not realize that Septien’s former husband, Rafael, a former placekicker for the Cowboys, was indicted on a charge of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and pleaded to a 10-year probated sentence? Because the Observer’s story mentions that she was married to him but doesn’t include that important detail. I bring this up because I know the person who was the child in that abuse case. And I don’t think Rafael Septien’s name should ever be printed without mentioning that he was indicted on a charge of aggravated sexual abuse of a child.

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How Big is ‘Texas-Size’?

I just happened upon the Star-Telegram’s account of Hillary Clinton’s Tuesday visit to Dallas, which Staci wrote about for us. What caught my attention was the piece’s curious headline:

A “Texas-size crowd”? The article’s own estimate of the turnout was “more than 1,500” people, and Staci tells me the venue could have accommodated more. Does 1,500 people qualify as “Texas-size”?

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Joe Pappalardo Named Observer Editor

It’s been something like six months since Joe Tone left the Dallas Observer to go work on a book about competitive archery. Finally, the paper named his replacement, and it’s a familiar name, at least to me. I worked with Joe Pappalardo — aka Joey Pops, aka Pop-a-Shot, aka Joe Bananas, aka Billy Ocean — when he was a staff writer there, I want to say in 2000. Here’s what I remember: he was a newspaper dork, he was a fair amount taller than I am, he had a beard, he occasionally wore a fedora (or maybe it was a trilby — a dumb hat, is what I’m getting at), he was a good reporter, and after he left, I think he wrote a book about sunflowers. Congratulations to Patrick Williams.

Hip-Hop, Snakebit, Janitor Work: New Dallas 500 Illuminates the City’s Most Powerful Businesspeople

The Mavs’ Mark Cuban is afraid of heights. Karen Katz of Neiman Marcus Group loves hip-hop music. Investor Kenny Troutt, who owns a Kentucky Derby-winning horse farm, is allergic to horse hair. Exxon Mobil’s Rex Tillerson worked in Oklahoma as a janitor. BBVA Compass bank’s Key Coker was bitten by a five-foot-long rattlesnake. (Which later became a rattlesnake belt.) And Mike Boone of the Haynes & Boone law firm once found himself standing buck naked on the deck of a coed swimming pool in a downtown gym.

Those are just a few of the insider tidbits to be found in a new publication called Dallas 500, which puts a spotlight on the 500 most powerful business leaders in North Texas. Compiled by the editors of D CEO magazine after months of research, including hundreds of interviews, the inaugural standalone edition features the top influencers in more than 60 categories, from aviation and banking to restaurants and technology. Someone said Dallas 500 is destined to become the area’s “business bible”—okay, it was Wick who said that—and our choices are sure to generate some controversy. Unless you’re a D CEO subscriber, you’ll have to buy a copy to see what we’re talking about. Purchase details can be found here.

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Doug Dunbar and Clarice Tinsley Poke Fun at the TV News Biz

An alert FrontBurnervian points us to a spoof video made by CBS Channel 11 anchor Doug Dunbar and Fox Channel 4 anchor Clarice Tinsley. In it, they make fun of the typical promo shots done to promote TV news teams. Dunbar’s “spin and grin” was apparently too hot for station management. The video originally went up on YouTube but was taken down — but not before FTVLive saved a copy.

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