I mostly haven’t been reading the Chico News & Review since I quit freelancing stuff to them about a year ago. My lack of interest in that paper increased when they stopped running Anthony Peyton Porter, a writer with a truly interesting cast of mind. There are still good writers working at the N&R (Tom Gascoyne, Ken Smith, Juan-Carlos Selznick, and the occasional piece from Bob Speer) but the self-satisfied clubbiness that has always been a hallmark of the rag has become insufferable since the aforementioned Mr. Speer retired as editor. The content of the paper has grown more predictable. From front to back, the stuff that draws editorial attention feels like it’s already been read before I read it. Puerile rock n’ roll appreciation by aging music nerds, largely uncritical genuflections toward the local drama and arts scene, a weekly reminder that green is good, that beer is good, and that the people at KZFR and the local peaceniks are unquestionably good despite their insular and clique-y self regard. If I’m missing something, someone is sure to let me know.
But I did read a recent issue in which the editor, Melissa Daugherty, wrote a piece about Chico City Councilwoman Mary Goloff. I wouldn’t know Mary Goloff if she mugged me in broad daylight, but Daugherty’s little tap dance on that rather unfortunate woman was the kind of thing that puts the “small” back in “small town,” a bitchy, snarky, and snide piece largely devoted to expressing resentment about a) the editor’s suspicion that she had been “lied to” by Vice Mayor Mark Sorensen, and b) the editor’s inconclusive and circumstantial suggestions that Mary Goloff is a compendium of addictions that make it impossible for her to serve the people who elected her to office.
I don’t know if that’s true, and I don’t think Ms. Daugherty knows that, either, but it didn’t keep her from casting “aspersions on Goloff’s asparagus,” to paraphrase the ever-so-brilliant Texas politician, Louie Gohmert.
The column was an extended cheap shot, and if it’s true that Ms. Goloff is struggling with addiction, then it was also exceedingly mean and nasty. Next month, I will celebrate 20 years of sobriety, and I’ve spent more than half the time Ms. Daugherty has been alive around people who are recovering from addictions. Cheap shots at such people ain’t nice.
Throughout the piece, Daugherty makes assumptions and guesses and then draws conclusions. She seems to think she’s doing investigative reporting when she writes about an email she says was sent “anonymously,” though she declares it was “written by Goloff.” She says it was “fairly indecipherable— basically a half-page-long jumble of letters with occasional words.” (I guess, since guessing is sanctioned, that Ms. Daugherty has never known the connection between, say, cats and keyboards.) She concludes: “I don’t know if Goloff was high on prescription drugs when she wrote the email…but it certainly is troubling.” The implication, of course, is that Goloff is Chico’s version of Toronto’s Rob Ford, conclusive “proof” of her unfitness to serve.
Daugherty’s editorial comment was a chickenshit piece of writing and attitude, whether or not Mary Goloff is addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol.