I just now instructed our edit staff to call Roland Sweet with an exciting tidbit. Sweet authors our popular column, NewsQuirks, and I simply believe he might find it humorous that The Salt Lake Tribune is being threatened with litigation by none other than the National Enquirer. That’s just too funny. I’ve also told them to send the same information to Chuck Shepherd, author of News of the Weird, in the devilish hope that the weirdness will appear also in that column—a column the Tribune plucked from this newspaper early in the Shelledy reign of hypocrisy. Best, the threatened Enquirer lawsuit is predicated on words written by Shelledy himself. “Rag bites mag,” might be the headline.
Last July, a salacious and sexy Elizabeth Smart kidnapping rumor made its way into The National Enquirer which, if anyone hasn’t noticed, isn’t afraid to publish information citing unnamed sources. Media that claim moral superiority often cite those rumors after they’ve been published. Last week, though, the Enquirer settled with the Smart family, retracted some of its reporting—and claimed it was fed that information by members of the police and media.
On Sunday, Salt Lake Tribune Editor Jay Shelledy surprised everyone when he publicly spanked two of his reporters, Kevin Cantera and Michael Vigh, for being among the sources who fed information to the Enquirer. There was no context to his column since no mention of that episode had yet been reported. However, it’s likely Shelledy knew the Deseret News would break the story about his reporters (each had been paid $10,000 from the Enquirer) and the Smart settlement in its Monday edition. It looks like his preemptive strike backfired. As usual, his column was high on a pedestal and low on reality.
The result was an immediate response from the Enquirer, which is demanding a correction and retraction from The Salt Lake Tribune or face litigation. Shelledy, forever the emperor who has no clothes, had chastened the Enquirer as being unworthy of sharing the same profession as he and his chagrined colleagues.
Since Shelledy likes to play the role of ethics guru, its only fair to ask him what ethics class he skipped when confronted with other ethical lapses under his leadership—remember the Shawn Foster and Marty Renzhofer sagas? I wonder how ethical Phil McCarthey thinks Shelledy is. Yup, Shelledy has egg on his face, and it couldn’t have been pleasant to read in Tuesday’s Deseret News Cantera telling the Enquirer that his “editors are real lightweights.” You don’t say?
That article countermanded much of what Shelledy had claimed on Sunday. By mid-day, Cantera and Vigh, once hailed as Shelledy’s golden boys, were both fired. When’s the press conference?
I’ve known journalists in this building and beyond for nearly 20 years now. I’ve witnessed that when it comes to moral and ethical duplicity, journalists take the bait just like everyone else. Not some and certainly not all—just enough pots and kettles to stock the shelves of any self-respecting chef. And in this case, Shelledy, the delusional chef, just cooked himself a meal of humble pie.