Bill White vs. Michael Berry: The Deathmatch!! No Politeness Allowed!! (Updated)
The folks at bloghouston listen to Michael Berry's talk show on KTRH, so they've become aware of the recent run-in between Berry and Mayor Bill White.
They provide mp3s of two recent Berry segments: one, a somewhat contentious interview between Berry and White over the city's "sanctuary policy," which conservatives feel is responsible for crime, cop-killings, general unpleasantness and the ultimate collapse of the American Empire, and two, a recap of the ensuing phone call he got from one of White's press secretaries.
Berry says the press secretary was "extremely heavy handed...highly disrespectful and highly unprofessional."
He doesn't provide any specifics (we have a message in to him), and what he described on the air sounded pretty much like the standard give-and-take between a reporter and a press secretary who's pissed off about a story.
In any case, the Berry Monster is now unleashed.
"This little fit they threw today," he said on the air, means Berry will no longer be respectful of the Mayor when (and if, big if) he ever comes on the show again.
"I will no longer hold my tongue," he says. "So for all of you who get very angry that I'm so polite to the mayor when he comes on, you will be delighted to know...I will rip him wide open on these airwaves and give him a chance to respond. I will not be respectful and courteous and give him a chance to talk throughout the interview."
Good luck lining up that next White interview, dude.
(Bonus point: In admitting that maybe he took the slights too personally, Berry mentioned that "I've been overly reactionary at times." Well, yes, he has, if you look up the definition of reactionary.)
Update: We've heard from Berry. He says the problem was more of tone than with what was said.
"It strikes me as extreme hubris to assume they can browbeat me, and it strikes me as stupid that they would do so when he's running for a statewide office," he says.
More interestingly, he says mayoral spokesman Patrick Trahan told a KTRH reporter the mayor would no longer do phone interviews with reporters from the station.
A ban that lasted less than one day, Berry says, as the mayor was on the phone with a reporter the following morning.
(We've got a message in to Trahan to get his version of events, so check back.)
And here's Trahan! He says he did, indeed, tell a KTRH reporter "no more phoners," but he had yet to reach Berry to talk things out, and after he did he rescinded the order.
"It is my job to insure that the public gets a fair hearing of he facts," he says. "I felt Mr. Berry's tone [on the radio] minimized the hard work done by the mayor and the police force on this issue and I challenged whether, given that so many of the station's opinion leaders are on one side of the political spectrum, that its news organization could, after Mr. Berry's railing, give us a fair airing on the issue. Mr. Berry answered that portion of the question to our satisfaction and we made the mayor available."
He added: "Mr. Berry accused us of bullying. He has a a 50,000-kilowatt radio station and listeners. We had a man-to-man conversation on a 455-volt phone. The only thing he could have found imposing about that conversation was my question about what did he see as the way to start in finding a solution to the problem [of illegal immigration]. "
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