Sun
Oct 1 2006
09:21 am

The World 'o Crap gang is going to have to rethink their designation of Meghan Cox Gurdon as America's Worst Mother after taking a look at this dreck.

I don't even know where to start.  

172
like
Tess's picture

Sad in many ways

Start with research into bipolar depression and resultant behavior.  Just a guess...

I don't know these people, but the mom's behavior is similar to that of people I do know with this psychiatric disorder when they are out of control.  As I said, it is a sad situation for everybody involved, regardless of what is behind the behavior.

That said, what were the mother's of those "boy-toys" thinking?  There is no way in hell that I would have let a 15-year-old son participate in that train wreck, and especially dressed that way. 

Plenty of shameful behavior to go around with this deal.  Not just the mom, who should be plenty embarrassed about herself.

Nelle's picture

Yeah ,,,

this could easily become a game of "pick the undiagnosed mental pathology."

redmondkr's picture

I know a few local charities

I know a few local charities that really could have used a fat check in that kid's name.  Instead, we get another spoiled brat on a cell phone making that part of the county a terror for the other drivers.

Anonymous's picture

For those of us who live in

For those of us who live in Knoxville this is nothing new. The News Sentinel is a rag that focuses on the stupid and sensational. I hope Scripps is keeping track of this. By the way, why not another feature on a well dressed man who shaves with the grain?

Ugh.

Bbeanster's picture

What the heck is "a

What the heck is "a transportation specialist for a Farragut brokerage firm?"

redmondkr's picture

Where I worked it was the

Where I worked it was the one who went out to get the doughnuts.

metulj's picture

 There is a freight

 There is a freight brokerage or two run out of Knoxville. There was a CH Robinson branch in  West Knoxville back when I had to beg for freight for one of those upstanding trucking companies based in Knoxville. I could be wrong. I often am.

 

True happiness is knowing you are a hypocrite. -- Ivor Cutler

Anonymous's picture

Gagging

I wonder if the KNS reported this because it's so gawd awefully retarded? I think this girl deserves to live it up before she's great big and fat like her mom one day. Because it'll take a car like that to get any attention.

jpop

Anonymous's picture

I think that your comments

I think that your comments are rude and that if you actually knew Brittany and her mom that you would think twice before opening your big mouth. Brittany is one of the sweetest people I know and I think that whoever wrote the article mader her out to be spoiled, and not showing her true nature. Her mother is such a nice person that she does not deserve such harsh comments. And I think that to make such a mean comment about her dosen't say a whole much about your selfestem if you have to make fun of someone else to feel better about your life.

Karen's picture

the guy who wrote the story

This certainly isn't Kevin's fault. He's a great guy. He was just writing about what was going on right in front of him. Please don't beat up on the guy who was doing his assignment.

Karen's picture

also

I realize Brittany's friends and family may not think she is a "spoiled little brat" and that she is a "great girl". But to people who work hard and drive cars that break down--it looks spoiled. And believe me, I would be a "great girl" who is "always sweet" if I had someone buying me BMW's in a certain color and doing everything for me. We actually don't know the content of her character. I doubt it has ever been tested. The world is great and all is well when we get exactly what we want---even if what we see is the life of a Hollywood kid on MTV. So I think you have to ammmend your assessment to say that Brittany is great when she gets what she wants--which is always.

Factchecker's picture

Estem

I guess I just gotta get me one of those best-car-in-the-whole-worlds to fix my busted selfestem.  And if I had an adolescent kid who successfully reached a friggin' birthday, well of course I'd get them one too to reward them just for being and to ensure his/her selfestem doesn't get as broke as mine.  

And everyone would see how great our selfestems is.

Bbeanster's picture

Hey, Mamma and Brittany

Hey, Mamma and Brittany wanted publicity and they got it. Yay for them. Hope it helps their selfestem.

metulj's picture

"And I think that to make

"And I think that to make such a mean comment about her dosen't say a whole much about your selfestem if you have to make fun of someone else to feel better about your life."

Stop posting anonymously, SayUncle. ;p 

True happiness is knowing you are a hypocrite. -- Ivor Cutler

Christa's picture

I think it's a cover-up.

I think it's a cover-up.

Factchecker's picture

"It's the news, stupid"

The real story is that KNS "covered" this so.  What lavish celebration from our self-appointed guardians of Faith and Values.  KNS goes further in this direction every day. 

Then again, who am I to challenge them on what's "hip and cool."  Heh.

Number9's picture

The Sentinel is no longer a newspaper.

The real story is that KNS "covered" this so. What lavish celebration from our self-appointed guardians of Faith and Values. KNS goes further in this direction every day.

This story was 2291 words. Only 531 words on the AP article on Mark Foley. The Sentinel is no longer a newspaper. It is advertorial marketing literature. How many product placement ads are in this article. Six, eight, ten?

The biggest story of the year in Knox County is the alleged Watergate style multiple data burglaries on the sixth floor of the City County building. Jay Witt had 87 keys which gave him access to any computer in the City County building. Does the Sentinel cover this story?

A Washington County prosecutor is trying the Witt case. Those with long memories remember the last time the same Washington County prosecutor tried a DUI case for Mayor Ragsdale. Another story that was barley reported.

Stacey's picture

Sentinel

I like their commercial, "If you're not getting it, you're not getting it." Did they really think people would respond warmly to this article. Who knows. I hope the girl gets a permit soon so she can drive the new car.Stacey

Anonymous's picture

The editor should be fired.

Editorial judgement at the KNS is bankrupt. He should be fired.

The parents who allowed their children to be a part of this should be investigated for further inappropriate behavior regarding their own children and other minors.

rikki's picture

speaking of undiagnosed pathology

What's with you people? First of all, MTV passed on filming this party because the girl and her mom weren't mean and bitchy enough. That's hilarious. Secondly, people with bipolar disorder don't hold down jobs for long, especially jobs that earn six or seven figures.

Is this gaudy and indulgent and wasteful? Absolutely. Does it evoke distressing thoughts about our culture? Certainly. Does it merit cheap digs at the girl and her mom? Not really.

Karen's picture

annoying

I was certainly annoyed when I read (as much as I could stomach) the article. I do think the article shows something important that isn't discussed much: the increasing divide between the "haves" and the "have nots". Is KNS going to do a story on an poor kid's 15th birthday party? Probably not, but they don't have to. My guess is that most of us reacted the same way. It's depressing, infuriating, and a sign of a bigger problem. I read in "The Atlantic" that there is a new high-demand job in the U.S.--estate coordinators. People who can manage the households at all the rich person's estates. These jobs pay very well--into the $100,000's. The woman who runs the school for this profession admitted that many of her rich clients are buying homes in faraway places because they are so nervous about the increasing income disparity in the U.S. She said some are buying homes in New Zealand, for example, so they can get out of the way. She also said she believed that in the future, the rich in the U.S. will live increasingly segregated lives--behind fences and walls for safety. I'm reminded of the burgler who broke into a home in Sequoyah Hills and ended up smashing everything in the home. He said he was just angry that these people had so much and he had so little. He said he had no idea people had been living like this. I'm not trying to make too much out of one girl's birthday party, but this is a good example of a larger problem in our society.

Tess's picture

What's with you people? 

What's with you people?  Secondly, people with bipolar disorder don't hold down jobs for long, especially jobs that earn six or seven figures.

Is this gaudy and indulgent and wasteful? Absolutely. Does it evoke distressing thoughts about our culture? Certainly. Does it merit cheap digs at the girl and her mom? Not really.

Got to disagree with you, Rikki.  This is so wrong in so many ways.  I talked with my 16 year old nephew about it today.  Several of his friends are pictured in the paper, as they were part of the team of boys carrying the girl on the pallet.

 He said that they were paid $80 to carry the pallet, and were invited to do that because of how they looked.  We had a discussion about that and I gave him my opinion about selling yourself because of your looks, and that if he ever needs money that bad to call me first, and we will talk about other ways to get it.  I think he appreciated the discussion.

Oren Incandenza's picture

One foot out of the trailer park

Does it merit cheap digs at the girl and her mom? Not really.

Oh yes, indeed it does.  Don't want cheap digs taken at your expense?  Then don't act like a nitwit, or at least have the sense to act like one in private. 

The over-compensation going on here is Shakespearean in its breadth, Joycean in its profundity, and Holmesian in its raw physical dimensions.  It's the nadir of behavior and local media, all rolled into one giant burrito, dipped in a chocolate fountain, rolled up Bubba Sparxxx's left thigh and deposited on the hood of a leased sportscar.  Blechhhh.

Socialist With A Gold Card's picture

A famous quote

The over-compensation going on here is Shakespearean in its breadth, Joycean in its profundity, and Holmesian in its raw physical dimensions.  It's the nadir of behavior and local media, all rolled into one giant burrito, dipped in a chocolate fountain, rolled up Bubba Sparxxx's left thigh and deposited on the hood of a leased sportscar.  Blechhhh.

Great description, Oren. Although I don't agree that the story implies any kind of mental illness on the part of the mother, it does remind me of that famous analysis from Hannibal Lecter:

You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste. Good nutrition has given you some length of bone, but you're not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you, Agent Starling?

I think that's the mother, in a nutshell.

--Socialist With A Gold Card


"I'm a socialist with a gold card. I firmly believe we need a revolution; I'm just concerned that I won't be able to get good moisturizer afterwards." --Brett Butler

 

redmondkr's picture

Nouveau Riche

From Jim Williams in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, "I'm what they call 'nouveau riche,' but then, it's only the 'riche' that counts."

Look no further than Elvis' den to see that you can't buy good taste. 

Socialist With A Gold Card's picture

Cheap digs

... and this is the ZIP code in which I live. God help me.

--Socialist With A Gold Card


"I'm a socialist with a gold card. I firmly believe we need a revolution; I'm just concerned that I won't be able to get good moisturizer afterwards." --Brett Butler

 

Jeanne's picture

Let it go.

Many of the comments above read like lines from one of Betsy Hart’s “I’m a much better parent than you are” columns.

While it may not be how I’d spend all of that money if I had it, throwing a lavish and outrageous birthday party for a teenager is not necessarily indicative of bad parenting.

A lot of assumptions have been made based on one article in a newspaper that most posters here agree leaves a lot to be desired. I have no doubt that in next Sunday’s edition, letters to the editor reflecting many of the sentiments expressed here will far outnumber letters about anything of substance.

So the “boy toys” were hired to perform at a party, and, yes, they were chosen for their good looks and popularity. Remember, folks, this is high school. Tess wisely used this as an opportunity to have an important discussion with her nephew, and I’m sure many parents did likewise. Because of the strong reactions from perfect strangers before and after the party, Brittany and her mom likely have had a discussion or two as well. About tolerance, human nature, misdirected anger, the media...

Bbeanster's picture

Does this kid have a

Does this kid have a father?
Story doesn't read like she does.

And I don't doubt that mother and daughter are talking about how mean people are being to them. And blaming the media. That's the standard fallback position, isn't it?

Lee Greenwood's picture

Naive???

If you're going to let the paper cover it, have a photographer from the paper there, be willing to talk about what you did and what you spent for this event, surely you're smart enough to know that some folks aren't going to agree with it and let you know about it.

If you do it in the public view, you're going to get the public's view. Good or bad.

Lee Greenwood's picture

As said yesterday:"

As said yesterday:

"If you're going to let the paper cover it, have a photographer from the paper there, be willing to talk about what you did and what you spent for this event, surely you're smart enough to know that some folks aren't going to agree with it and let you know about it.

If you do it in the public view, you're going to get the public's view. Good or bad."

Eleanor A's picture

Well, and who's forcing you

Well, and who's forcing you to read this stuff, lady? Much less to allow your child to read it? She's underage, and if she's reading this it's because you're allowing her access to a computer.

You say you wouldn't have allowed the press at your event had you known comments would be allowed, but surely you were aware there are weblogs that comment on issues of the day. You've made yourself newsworthy by allowing the reporters into your home to begin with. I'm assuming you weren't paid to do so, but frankly, your cries of outrage ring a little hollow.

What on earth were you thinking? That people in a state where loss of health insurance has risen by 37% in the past four years, and which has a state sales tax on food, would be overjoyed to see you blowing money on a party and an expensive car when they're desperate to take care of their own families?

You're either so far out of touch with reality that I really feel sorry for you, or you're so self-involved that you don't care. Either way, I would imagine a little re-examination of your own priorities might be in order.

Number9's picture

More upset about the taxpayer supported "Three hour cruise"

Should the Sentinel have had a comment section for this particular article? Are these people public figures? The Sentinel rarely if ever allows a comment section on a story about Mayor Ragsdale. This stinks of a class warfare setup.

These people have been exposed to more wrath and condemnation than the West family yet they have broken no laws. I don't agree often with rikki but I do not understand the condemnation and outrage. I see a divorced mother with some problems. I do not recall anything in recent memory  that has spawned such outrage. Even the tragic hit and run death of Morgan McCarty did not create this much outrage. Is there that much class warfare rage in this county?

Brittany said she would have been fine with a movie and she said her Mom was a little "OCD". This party was way over the top but a three year lease for the BMW is around $ 24,000. Still a lot of money but not $45,000. The party could have cost $3,500.

From the pictures on the Sentinel website it did not look like Leslie and Brittany live in an extravagant home. Most of the pictures taken were of the homes where the invitations were delivered. They were not the homes of the "Rich and Famous". There are a bunch of homes all over the county that look just like them.

Messages on the Sentinel's comments section have some posts allegedly from family members concerned about how Leslie could afford the party. There is this, "As a member of Brittany's family, we are very saddened by the events and disappointed in the KNS staff for glorifying such inappropriate behavior. How Leslie paid for such an extravagant event is beyond our understanding." And this, "The Dad is just as appalled as the public. He & and his wife learned about the nature of the party from the KNS. Not one dime was contributed by him or the paternal family, nor was the father & paternal family members invited."

I have to wonder if this is what it appears to be. Many of these people with so called high class lifestyles live from check to check. Every credit card is maxed out and they constantly try to get new ones. I have met people that have mortgages over four grand a month. They think nothing of it. I couldn't do it but I don't condemn them because they choose to do that.

There was not much behavior I cared for at this party. Does anyone want their child called "Miss New Booty"? Being paraded in on the throne was unbelievable. It was hard to separate how much was hype and satire. But if you watch the clips it looked to be a fun party.

On the movie clip on the Sentinel website a young girl pretends to have a "shooter", an alcoholic drink. The camera person gives a great deal of time to insinuate bad behavior. The young girl was just pretending and hamming it up on camera. People on the Sentinel comments section demand an investigation of the mother and the other parents.

Could we channel some of this rage to a more appropriate cause? We have serious problems with our local government. The State government wouldn't know ethics if it bit them on the butt. Our Federal government is one step from chaos. I don't understand the vicious condemnation. I am much more upset about the taxpayer supported "Three hour cruise" than I am about this.

 

 

Socialist With A Gold Card's picture

Ain't happenin'

Could we channel some of this rage to a more appropriate cause?

Nine, the only time you'd ever see the same kind of outrage expressed over political matters would be if the KNS reported something like this:

County Commission opened its monthly meeting last night with Commissioner Diane Jordan being carried into the Large Assembly Room on a pallet borne by shirtless boy-toy eye candy.

Commissioners Billy Tindell, Ivan Harmon, Mark Cawood, and John Mills, clad only in spandex shorts, carried Commissioner Jordan into the meeting under a canopy of ostrich-feather fans held aloft by the remaining Commissioners, who were clad only in Speedos. Ms. Jordan was resplendent in a gold-lamé tube top and matching thong, accentuated by a purple feather boa.

"Tank" Strickland performed lap dances for everyone present.

Anything short of that is merely politics as usual and is therefore greeted with yawns.

--Socialist With A Gold Card


"I'm a socialist with a gold card. I firmly believe we need a revolution; I'm just concerned that I won't be able to get good moisturizer afterwards." --Brett Butler

 

NED's picture

3500.00???

You think this party was 3500.00? In case you are curious here's a link to Bubba Sparxxx's booking agency. They even have a special package for teenager parties- starting at $50,000.

(link...)

Oh, an exerpt from the website:

D. Your talent-fee budget must be $50,000 or more. This means you, or the "PARENT," must have the ability to pay (if necessary) $50,000 or more for the artist that is wanted and you have a separate budget to cover costs, such as travel, lodging, sound/lighting/staging requirements, etc.
Note that total costs (talent fee plus expenses) for hiring a $50,000 artist might be as much as $65,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on the artist.

Where's Sally Struthers when you need her.

smalc's picture

This party was way over the

This party was way over the top but a three year lease for the BMW is around $ 24,000. Still a lot of money but not $45,000. The party could have cost $3,500.

I dunno, it would probably be better to buy the car and tell her that's it until she can buy her own(not that would happen), than to lease the car because "she'll get tired of it in three years".

I'd say the party cost 20x 3,500, at least. She said te cost it was MTV worthy, which they mentioned to be 6 figures.

Not that it all matters, the mother earned the money, or "married" (this is TN you know) it, or whatever. Am I jealous that I don't have that kind of money to blow? Probably. But I hope I wouldn't spend it in that manner.

Jeanne's picture

Thanks for clearing that up

So, having money means your character has never been tested and you're always happy because you can buy stuff.

BlueMeany's picture

I object to the title

Worst. Mother. Ever.

I don't think spoiling a child equates with being a rotten mother, just an indulgent one. But, spoiling a child does help to create another generation of self-entitled and immature young adults who will expect everything to come to them without a lick of effort. I think what galls most folks on this site and elsewhere is the sheer amount of money this woman lavished on her child. What's she going to do for her 16th birthday? Her graduation? Heaven forbid how high the bar has been set for this child's wedding. There's absolutely nothing wrong with loving your child and giving them gifts, it's natural. But, everything in moderation...

Worst. Mother. Ever? Nah. Andrea Yates, Susan Smith, even Joan Crawford...there's some mamas that shouldn't have had any babies under their watch.

Nelle's picture

I believe the term is "hyperbole"

If we're taking nominations for the real "worst mother," I'd go with Medea.

But then that's probably another thread ...

Anonymous's picture

Party of the year?

To say Leslie used very poor judgement in planning this party is putting it ver mild. To 'pay' children to show off their body's to carry the 'little' girl in, disgusting. Where were the parents of the young men? Where were the parents of any of the children that were allowed to attend this 'show off' party. I think the News-Sentinel has set out what it intended to do. To show how parents will do anything and pay anything to 'buy' their children's love and popularity. It's a very sad commentary on our community and society as a whole. Shame on all of you!

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for putting into

Thanks for putting into words what i could not. I agree 100 percent

Jeanne's picture

overly sensitive?

Bbeanster,

I was speculating that Brittany and her mom were having discussions of substance, as parents and children do. There are more than a few openers flying around here.

And I wasn't suggesting people are actually being mean to them; as for blaming the media, blaming them for what? I imagine from the subjects’ perspective, this was a nice fluff piece about a party.

There is, however, plenty of meanness on display. “Does this kid have a father?” Ouch!

Bbeanster's picture

The family that lap dances together?

Jeanne, maybe there are clues in this story that lead you to speculate that this particular mother and daughter are having "discussions of substance." I don't see them.
And doesn't the "father" question beg to be asked? Seems reasonable to me. I see by reading to the end of this thread that there evidently is a father who is reportedly not very happy about this unfortunate celebration.
If I were the non-custodial parent in this situation, I would have been on the phone to my lawyer yesterday.

R. Neal's picture

I wish I could buy my wife a

I wish I could buy my wife a BMW convertible. Well, actually I could. Or she could buy me one (hint hint). But we're saving for retirement.

This whole thing is pretty amusing. I guess I was one of those spoiled, overpriveliged kids. My dad gave me his hand-me-down Mustang when I turned 16. It was a restored wreck he bought from my uncle who restored wrecks for resale in his body shop. It was an awesome car. The chicks loved it.

Anyway, I don't begrudge anybody being rich. I hope to be rich someday. But seeking PR from MTV or KNS or whoever to tell everybody how rich you are seems a little over the top. And trotting your daughter out there to show off how rich you are, well, that's maybe worthy of a little discussion and introspection on everyone's part.

(My spell checker is broken, so forgive my typing. I changed servers today and so naturally nothing on my PC works any more. Thanks, Microsoft!)

Anonymous's picture

Worst.Newspaper.Ever.

"Worst.Newspaper.Ever." should have been the title of this story. Parents have been doing stupid things throughout history.

Our local rag thinks this is news.

Karen's picture

yes, this DOES matter

Okay. There are other things happening that people feel is more important. I, for one, think the questions and problems this story brings to light is a MAJOR problem in our society. What is the role of media? How much is too much for a kid? How much income disparity are people willing to swallow thinking that their turn is coming? Do I think that people with money don't have problems? Of course not. But let me tell you this: there is NOTHING like the problems inherent in not having money for food, rent, and a car. NOTHING. For a doctor, for health care, for medicine. Low-income people have all the emotional problems the rich have--but they also have to worry about how to afford to feed their kids for the week. I have to put food back at the grocery store so I can pay my FOOD TAX, so that Brittany's mom doesn't have to pay a state income tax. I paid a $60.00 wheel tax on my $500.00 car---the VERY SAME AMOUNT that Brittany's mom paid on the new BMW. THINK for a minute about the percentage of tax I paid compared to Brittany's mom. Does this piss me off? YES!!! I know it's natural to want to jump in to help out the people that are getting beaten up by the comments, but these are serious issues in our country. The rich ARE getting richer and richer thanks to their generous tax cuts, and the middle class are losing ground as inflation for basic items climb and wages decline.

Jeanne's picture

Party's Host Responsible For World's Woes, Must Be Stopped!

If Brittany's mom had written Tennessee's tax code, you'd have a point. Actually, you have several good points, but this teenager and her mother are not responsible for the country's problems or Tennessee's unfair system of taxation. They're also not responsible for starving children around the world and they're not responsible for every local charity that could benefit from the amount of money spent on this party.

You could get angry at our leaders in Nashville and Washington and demand accountability from them because it's their job to tackle the problems you mention. Or you could just attack this family because you have a social conscience and obviously they don't. They couldn't, could they? Surely the article would have mentioned it if they did.

I'm not jumping in to defend them because they're getting beat up in the comments, I'm defending them because for so many of the things everyone is angry about, they are the wrong target.

Hildegard's picture

What astonishes me is the

What astonishes me is the level of outrage over this story. Yeah, it's vulgar, but it's interesting. Far more interesting than the lifestyles articles I'm used to seeing in KNS. Nobody would care if the mother were being this extravagant for her daughter's wedding, because of the traditional, sentimental meaning we attach to the idea of weddings. Even second or third weddings.

And while I don't appreciate people getting breaks just because of their looks, I think one time when it is entirely appropriate to judge the best man for a job based on his looks is when you're the guy who has to schlep the virgin sacrifice. That's just life. There may be a job for them in posing for the covers of romance novels, who knows? Anyway, the hoisting of a nubile rich blond by four cute virile boys is so perfectly pagan in its symbolism - I thought it was hilarious.

It's a quinceanera. Chill out.

I get far more pissed off about the trend so popular in many churches now of teenage girls pledging virginity - to their fathers. Now that shit is creepy.

Socialist With A Gold Card's picture

I guess my main objections

I guess my main objections to this are twofold:

First, the fact that adults are encouraging 15-year-old kids to at least simulate sex and substance abuse (the eye candy, the lap dances, and the fake shooters) means these kids see this kind of behavior as a template for being an adult. If all of them don't end up in rehab within 6 or 7 years, it'll be a miracle. If this were a wedding celebration, it would likely be a different story, since the participants probably wouldn't be minors. I've been to some almost equally depraved wedding receptions, but the fact that they were consenting adults made it fun instead of icky and sick. Frankly, I'd LOVE to be carried into a room by four nubile hotties, but they'd have to be old enough to understand the consequences of the behavior for it not to be gross. If Knoxville had monthly Bacchanalias or something (for consenting adults), I'd be all for documenting it. This was a Bacchanalia for kids, which is madness.

Second (and more importantly to me), the breathless adulation the KNS bestowed upon this depravity and their masquerading of this PR piece as "news" is grotesque. It isn't journalism; it's merely a Jerry Springer episode tarted up to look like news in a craven attempt to sell copies of a declining newspaper (and I posted as much in a comment on McElroy's blog).

The whole thing paints in stark terms what a shame it is that Knoxville no longer has a decent daily newspaper.

--Socialist With A Gold Card


"I'm a socialist with a gold card. I firmly believe we need a revolution; I'm just concerned that I won't be able to get good moisturizer afterwards." --Brett Butler

 

Stacey's picture

interesting

Hildegard is right, it is more interesting than the usual society page stuff about who's who attending benefits and debutantes. I wonder if the party and the article both were sort of satire. Stacey

Les Jones's picture

I get the impression the

I get the impression the daughter has more sense than the mother:

Brittany can't bring herself to get out of the car that retails for about $45,000.

"Oh, my God. That's all I can say," she says. "I was thinking a piece of jewelry maybe. This is the best automobile made on the planet. I don't even have a permit yet. This is crazy, crazy, crazy."

"I'm kind of sad that it's over," Brittany says a few days after the party. "I want it to come back. It was amazing. I've never felt that awesome. I felt like everybody was there to see me."

Even though Brittany cherishes the extravagant night, she realizes it wasn't necessary for a good time.

"It would've been fine if I had a few friends to go the movies," she says.

Buying a new car for someone who's exactly a year away from driving is just goofy.


Hey, Les, why don't we just call each other assholes and get it over with. - Somebody on the old Southknoxbubba.net (if that was you, claim your quote and win net.fame!)

Nelle's picture

I don't know about anyone else

... but I wasn't outraged, but a bit disgusted with the mom. Again, the title is hyperbole.

As far as the daughter goes, I feel sorry for her, that's all. Maybe she'll rise above it, but I know too many people who were given every little thing they ever wanted and never realized they weren't entitled to anything.

Number9's picture

Jack McElroy has gotten seriously pasted

Jack McElroy has gotten seriously pasted in two posts here and here on his blog at the News Sentinel. The consensus is that the Sentinel blew it by printing a three page story on this. Some of the hits on Jack are pretty tough, "Don't sell your journalistic soul for a few more sales, Mr. McElroy--we all know that newspapers are slowly becoming irrelevant, but please don't help the Sentinel slide further down the slope towards its inevitable demise with tawdry stunts like this one."

Over 57 comments from readers of the Sentinel. Several promising to cancel their subscriptions. Someone at Scripps named Bob Benz writes, "The last thing I want to do is wall myself off from things that I disagree with. I really hope you (and some of the other folks who have posted here) will reconsider that decision to stop reading. But if that's what you need to do, I respect that. I just disagree with it."

I wonder if Bob is a "suit".

For those that care the Sentinel's Daily Circulation is 115,900. The Sunday Circulation is 153,800. That may be subject to change.

redmondkr's picture

I have said it before; I'll

I have said it before; I'll say it again.  If you don't have a bird cage, you have absolutely no need for a Knoxville News-Sentinel.  They are handy for starting charcoal fires and wrapping fish, but that's about it.

Oh, it's good to check them online every day or so to make sure your name isn't in the obituaries.

My Gawd, that thing was three pages in the print edition? 

Hildegard's picture

I dunno. The fact that I've

I dunno. The fact that I've posted twice by this point on this subject when there is a lot of other more important stuff going on says one of two things: (1) this is a story with inexplicable power; or (2) I'm shallow. Hey, the possibilities are not mutually exclusive.

Over a century ago, French writer Emile Zola wrote stories about the crass, grotesque consumption of his age. I'm not comparing the author of this story to Zola, I'm just pointing out that a story like this may actually be worth printing. It illustrates something about our culture. It gives us an ugly glimpse of our worst values. For all the shock and outrage and indignation expressed here and elsewhere, what happened at this party is a mere concentration of the culture in which we all participate, and to which we all contribute on some level.

I think that's what really pisses everybody off: being reminded of how complicit we are in this. When it's Paris Hilton, we can pretend that's another world. But when it's Brittany in Farragut, shit, now, that's an outrage.

I don't know what motivted KNS to run the story. It was a Lifestyles piece. It reflected something extraordinary in that context, or it wouldn't have generated this much discussion.

I think Socialist makes good points, btw. But I think our society needs to have its nose rubbed in this kind of excess.

rikki's picture

I think that's what really

I think that's what really pisses everybody off: being reminded of how complicit we are in this.

You nailed it. Demonizing the mother, particularly by alleging a serious mental illness, is a way to externalize the problem. So are the calls for censorship.

Addressing complicity, here are some questions to ponder:

  • How does our cultural fixation on the rich relate to tax policies that have widened the gap between haves and have nots?
  • Will any of the virgin-bearers enlist and be sent overseas to fight for "our way of life"?
  • Have we spent six years carrying George Bush around on a pillow?
  • Is this how trickle-down economic theory manifests in reality?
  • Is it really our freedom that other cultures hate?

btw, I'm not sure who the World 'o Crap folks are, but I suspect the thread title is satirical. Nonetheless, when I saw the title, I expected a link to a story about another mother murdering her children. Surely we all recognize that there are far worse things that happen to American children every day than getting spoiled.

Tess's picture

Not quite the whole issue

"Surely we all recognize that there are far worse things that happen to American children every day than getting spoiled."

How about minor children being treated as sexual objects, or a mother treating a 15-year old girl to a lap dance by the half-dressed "boy-toys" she hired for the party? (And, then participating in the activity herself.) Or thinking it appropriate that your 15-yr old daughter is named the new "Miss Booty" for Knoxville.  Does anything about that seem, well, wrong to you, Rikki? 

 It is a parent's role to protect their children.  And, for most, it comes naturally.  In fact, most parents would do anything to prevent their children being used this way. 

rikki's picture

Does anything about

Does anything about that seem, well, wrong to you, Rikki?

Yes. It seems wrong that MTV decided not to film it. 

metulj's picture

I know Bob Benz

He's no suit. He may be a Scripps man, but he's pretty damn level headed. 

 

True happiness is knowing you are a hypocrite. -- Ivor Cutler

Number9's picture

26 more comments over on

26 more comments over on Jack McElroy's blog. Now the family is being attacked. Charges of embezzlement and other things. I wonder if this has gone from a special event for a young girl to a living hell.

Isn't it strange that this class warfare battle followed the class warfare battle over the Hardin Valley High School? The decision made on the Hardin Valley High School was to take funding from other Knox County schools to pay for the remaining 6 million dollars. 

You have to wonder if this article was a deliberate political calculation.

LeslieGibbs's picture

I am the mother you and

I am the mother you and everyone else is bashing...obviously none of you have ever experienced dealing with the media...they exploit things and blow things out of proportion. This was a fun safe party for these kids...we rented a tent, some linens, bought some candy and hired a singer and dancers. There were no "lap dances". The fully clothed dancers simply danced circles around whoever was in the chair...one did shake his booty at Brittany but it was to be silly not sexual. The guys without shirts carried her in and did nothing more than what we see all the time...walk around in jeans and no shirt. There was a candy table with giant pixy stix and fun dip. The kids were pouring the sugar into the cups and eating it - that's being called a "shot" now??? Come on...for one thing, no one has the right to judge, for another, you are judging something you didn't witness and therefore don't have true knowledge of what really went on. We had 30 parents there chaperoning...don't you think if it were an unsafe or unfit environment that those 30 parents would have taken their 30 kids home? Instead we were thanked over and over for such a fun night. People really have nothing better to do than to meddle in other people's lives and make judgements on things they know nothing about. Had I known that comments would have been allowed on the article, I never would have agreed to the paper covering it because I know how cruel people can be. I guess I hoped that most people would just look at it as a mom giving her kid the birthday of her dreams and that would be the end of it. What I wonder is when all of you sit there writing you nasty little anonymous comments...how do you sleep at night knowing you are saying these things to a 15 year old child? How would you feel if I publicly bashed your child and your family? You all need to worry about yourselves and what goes on in your own lives and stop tormenting my daughter and our family.

Hildegard's picture

Leslie, I was one of the

Leslie, I was one of the posters who did not bash you. My comments speak for themselves, but I would point out a few things. You invited attention to yourself and your daughter. You were showing off your wealth and bragging about the expense of the event, so you can't expect to shield yourself from negative public reaction. You probably didn't expect it because you live in an area where people live well and easily and consider themselves beyond reproach solely by virtue of their material advantages, no matter how hard won they may be.

But I agree that many, if not most, of the comments are unfair, and I'm sorry you're learning the hard way that you're just as vulnerable as everybody else. I found the event newsworthy, again for reasons stated in my posts above.

All due respect, I'm calling bullshit on the characterization of a male dancer shaking his "booty" at your daughter as something merely silly, and not sexual. Genitalia, whether it is covered or not, when aimed in the direction of a pretty teenager and shaken, strikes me (pardon the pun) as somewhat sexual in nature. Again, I'm not judging you as a parent. But c'mon. You shouldn't be surprised that a lot of people question the appropriateness of that.

But 'nuff said already. I'm really sorry you're going through this, and like I said, most of the things I've read here and on McElroy's blog are way more out of line than dirty dancing.

metulj's picture

"You all need to worry about

"You all need to worry about yourselves and what goes on in your own lives and stop tormenting my daughter and our family."

While I understand that you are being attacked for this party and some of those attacks are nasty, there is no denying that valid criticisms of your behavior exist and that those behaviors are rooted in general criticisms of conspicuous consumption that you will see on this blog. Your feelings may be hurt but those who are more generally sensitive to how this behavior can hurt our society aren't necessarily bound by concern for those feelings you have. That's just the way it is. The fact of the matter is: You allowed your family to be exposed to this criticism.

You could have declined the interview and participation in the article. You actually actively engaged in promoting this escapade not just in the Knoxville media but with a world wide media company. Rebuffed by the latter, you still allowed the NS to write the story. Now they could have gone on without your permission as well they may have, but you exposed yourself to this. It is difficult to feel sorry for this particular decision you made. It just is.

I don't think that you are necessarily a bad mother as others do. You tried to give your child love unbounded by economy, when a simple hug and kiss would have done the trick. That isn't bad mothering. It's just a mistake. There are many children is this world who are not afforded even that. This rap act that played your child's party took expected a minimum of $50000 for the event. Now, barring some excellent negotiating skills on your end, we can assume that you paid that. Wow. Now we know. Bravo. But what was sacrificed? Your privacy. Sorry. I am not one for old adages, but "Fools' names and fools' faces both appear in public places." I hope this lesson is life changing for you. For many, it was nothing but a reaffirmation that there is a class of people in our world who demand our attention for no particularly good reason.

My advice to you is this: Don't sue anybody. Stop complaining. Open your eyes to what has transpired. Gather your family around and set out on a project as a family that reaffirms the ties that bind you. Do it quietly so that the only perception of change is within your family. You'll feel a lot better about everything. I promise.

I'll end this post on a light note though. My father, when he found out that I had managed to do something particularly asinine as a young man, told me that as long as I knew that I could laugh about the whole matter 20 years later it was a worthwhile experience to go through. I hope that is the case for you and yours. 

 

True happiness is knowing you are a hypocrite. -- Ivor Cutler

Socialist With A Gold Card's picture

I won't be nearly as

I won't be nearly as charitable as metulj or Hildegard.

I realize the above from Ms. Gibbs is comment spam, since she's copied and pasted the same comment elsewhere; so, I doubt she'll read this reply. But I hope she does.

Ms. Gibbs, you are [], first to a TV network, then to the local "newspaper," in a crass and vulgar attempt to draw attention to yourself. Congratulations. It worked.

As was said to the man who caught a tiger with his bare hands, "Well, now you have it. What are you going to do with it?"

You reap what you sow, Ms. Gibbs. You sowed self-indulgence, gauche materialism, and rank bourgeois greed, meanwhile providing a dress rehearsal for adult self-destructive behavior for a bunch of kids. Are you proud of yourself? God, I hope not, for your poor daughter's sake.

The only thing worse than your grotesque self-aggrandizement is the breathless endorsement of it provided by the local "newspaper."

If you didn't want the "torment" of this disgusting episode, then you should not have chosen to make a spectacle of yourself and pimp out your daughter in doing so.

As metulj noted, I also hope you and your daughter learn something privately from this. From your comments above, it looks doubtful.

--Socialist With A Gold Card


"I'm a socialist with a gold card. I firmly believe we need a revolution; I'm just concerned that I won't be able to get good moisturizer afterwards." --Brett Butler

 

Anonymous's picture

Are you kidding me Ms.

Are you kidding me Ms. Gibbs? Look at the video clips and reread the article. It is you playing to the cameras in the videos isn't it? I believe it was $400 to "ship" the paper for the invitations?? And now it's we just rented a tent, had some candy...give me a break. You flaunted designer dresses and Hummer limos to the press and now you want to have everyone believe it was just a typical 15 year olds birthday party. The article talked about lap dances for you and your daughter (and the video showed it), but now you want everyone to believe it was just a little dancing and fun...the readers didn't call it lap dances, you did. I think most readers got it right, you have major issues. As far as Brittany, most readers feel pitty for her...not scorn. And speaking of readers putting her through this, you put her through it, and you went one step further by publicly humiliating her friend Hannah. If Hannah was my child, you would be hearing from me!!!

A reporter's picture

A reporter's perspective

Can I offer another perspective on this topic? I am a reporter (not the one who wrote the birthday party story). In less than 10 years, I alone have written literally dozens of the type of stories our KNS readers are now saying on blogs and on comment pages we "should" have covered "instead" of the Sweet 15 story. We do stories on children who had party guests bring canned foods for Second Harvest. Who had their parties at Build-A-Bear and took all the bears to Children's Hospital. Who collected stuff for Katrina victims, Indonesia tsunami victims, tornado victims, Appalachian children, children in homeless shelters, and so on, and so on. Who read about a family whose house burned down and gave those kids all their toys. Whose one birthday wish came true because Daddy finally got that kidney.

Those are important stories. We do them all the time. I know, because I write them, and so do other reporters. And I'll tell you why people are now saying THOSE are the types of stories we should be doing: Clearly, you must not read them. They're so common, nobody even notices them anymore. That's the only explanation for those comments. And it should be clear to us already, for do we get even one-tenth of the reader response to those stories that was generated by the Sweet 15 story? Speaking for myself, if I get a couple of e-mails from the family and a call from a neighbor or two, that's a lot of response for one of those stories. Perhaps a person or two might be moved to make a donation to the child's cause. If so, that's great. But certainly, there is NEVER the type of reader response THIS story generated. If that's what you want, well ... where are you when we're running it?

You read the Sweet 15 story because it interested you. I myself read every word of it when it came out. Whether or not you disagreed with the mother's decisions, it was interesting because it was different. And you sure let the paper know you read it.

My comments aren't meant to represent the News Sentinel. I am one reporter, and these are my personal opinions. Just trying to show another perspective, and here's why it's important:

As a reporter, you can say to your editor(s), "This story is important! Our readers want/need to know this!" till you're blue in the face. But what backs you up and makes the editor listen is reader response, pure and simple. Remember that the next time you see something you like.

rikki's picture

Hell yes, bring it on!

Trashing the News Sentinel is a piece of cake. Doing it honestly and meaningfully is a whole 'nother matter. The Local section is the first thing I read (plus local stories that make the cover), and most of it is good stuff. I have minimal interest in KNS editorials, but local reporters and columnists are always worth reading (Greg Johnson notwithstanding -- who is he blowing?). Ditto for the Daily Times and other smaller papers. There are plenty of reporters working hard to cover local stories, and if they occasionally fall short, the solution for readers is to look for another take on the subject. Pick up a smaller paper, turn on the TV or radio or visit knoxviews or some other local website. KNS does an admirable job covering our community, but it can't be expected to please everyone all the time. More to the point, it can't be expected to please YOU all the time. If you want news that never offends you, you don't actually want news. You want entertainment and fantasy, and there is no shortage of that.

People who claim the Sentinel is worthless probably have no interest in local news, because it is clearly the primary source for local reporting. People calling for omission or censorship need to re-examine whether a free society is the right fit for them. Bias is far less harmful than omission. It's unavoidable, really, and any competent person can perceive bias and compensate.

Every person who has commented on the Sweet 15 story has proved it was worthy of coverage. If you have issues with how it was covered, good for you for being capable of critical thought, however insightful or stunted it might have been. Kudos to Leslie Gibbs and "A reporter" for standing up for themselves.

Karen's picture

to "a reporter"

Just a thought: I suspect most people are reacting to a few things:
1. the WAY the News-Sentinel chose to cover the story---not the fact that they covered it. As anyone who has ever talked to a reporter knows, these decisions are made far above a reporter's head. There was no context. Were they celebrating the party? Celebrating the BMW and the thousands spent? Should other teens in the area feel bad that they can't have such things? The tone in this piece was markedly different from the new "Text This" section--where one boy admitted he had never spent more than $30 for a pair of jeans. This party would have been an excellent way to discuss materialism, teen pressure, income disparity---whatever. Just SOMETHING besides a breathless acccounting of the evening.
2. I think many people read about teens doing good things and smile and move onto the next story feeling good about the direction of the world for the day. What LOTS of people don't know is how good the more "economically-advantaged" live. As someone wisely mentioned above, we live with the indignity of a food tax, of lost health care, of stagnant wages and closing plants. It was hard to swallow with the morning coffee.
3. Then there is the sexual nature of the party and the idea that a parent would pay young boys "based on their looks" to appear at the party shirtless.
Best of luck to the mother and daughter who, I'm sure, never meant to provoke such outrage and never imagined that following an MTV script for a teenager's party might not be such a good idea. Flaunting your wealth is not a good way to introduce yourself to people. I'm very sorry that noone ever told the mother that. I almost want to go have coffee with the mom and tell her to relax. This will all blow over (and quickly), but it brought up many interesting questions that needed to be asked. I actually applaud people for reacting to the story and taking the trouble to email Jack McElroy. The reporter is correct about people in the community being able to change the content. I vote for more LOCAL NEWS!!!!! I would like the News-Sentinel to be as fat with news as it was in the 1980's, when I would read it at lunch and not be able to finish the local news stories alone. That would mean.....oh, I don't know.....ummmm...HIRING MORE REPORTERS???

Anonymous's picture

gross

Paris Hilton is a nun compared to that Mom.

Number9's picture

Several new developments

Several new developments in the Leslie Gibbs story. After scathing comments and letters against the editorial wisdom of the Sentinel a new feature has been added to the Sentinel website. An opt out option for comments. You click a hyperlink and the comments section will not be displayed on the webpage. Do I detect the aroma of attorneys? Seems like a CYA move by the Sentinel.

Jack McElroy, you the man. You could have handled this many different ways but to choose the cop out is a stunning admission. If it offends them then cast it away. Still hasn't dawned on you that your paper is far off track from what the public expects of you?

The other major development is a letter to the editor from Leslie Gibbs. She explains that the rumors about an embezzlement charge are not about her but are about a different Leslie Gibbs. She explains what happened at the party and writes that there were, "30 chaperones at the party, many of whom were parents of kids attending".

I can not remember any family being setup the way this family was by the Sentinel. I do think the party was over the top but that in no way forgives the behavior of Jack McElroy and the Sentinel. To take a birthday party and use it as a club to wage a class warfare battle is not the role of a newspaper.

The problem is that this has garnered so much attention that it will be tempting to do this again. McElroy's job is to sell papers. Does this signal the move to tabloid journalism for the Sentinel?

 

 

 

 

Bbeanster's picture

The mother's letter to the

The mother's letter to the editor is a "major development"? Just reads like a bunch of self-centered whining to me.

And contrary to what you said, she didn't really address the most serious innuendo against her (complete with links), and the notion that she was "set up" by the NS is just silly. Nobody that I could see forced the Gibbses to volunteer stuff like the price of the imported paper on which the invitations were printed -- or did I miss something? Did she really think that this story would be well-received? Are y'all really THAT disconnected from reality out there in Farragutia? She wanted attention, she's got it.

Number9's picture

She wanted attention, she's

She wanted attention, she's got it.

If a married lesbian couple in the Fourth and Gill neighborhood were subjected to the attacks that this family was would the reaction be the same? I would think people would be calling for Jack McElroy's job. Isn't that a double standard?

My question is why was there a comment section on this article when there is rarely if ever a comment section on a article about the City or County Mayor? If you do not see a double standard look a little harder. Either have a comment section for all articles or don't have a comment section. These people should have been informed by the Sentinel that there would be a comment section. Isn't that only fair? Now what happens with letters to the editor however is fair game.

Were these folks very foolish to provide so much information to the paper? Obviously yes. Yet, this family has been treated worse than the Wests who were convicted for selling pot. Do you find that to be a double standard?

They did not have much common sense and I do not defend what they did, but were the actions of the Sentinel professional and consistent with the way other people have been reported on? I do note there was a comment section on the Wests story.

Are you making an analogy that if you go on the Jerry Springer show and all hell busts loose that you have no room to complain? Maybe they thought the Sentinel was a step above the Springer show? Maybe they thought since they had not been convicted of selling pot there would not be a comments section.

I think the Sentinel should cover some of the private parties that the rich and famous in Knoxville attend. This was very tame compared to what the grownups do.

R. Neal's picture

My question is why was there

My question is why was there a comment section on this article when there is rarely if ever a comment section on a article about the City or County Mayor?

Don't know about the rest of it, but that's an excellent question. If they have the capability to do that, why shouldn't they just put it on every story?

Bbeanster's picture

Oh, come on, Nine, the

Oh, come on, Nine, the amount of comment this story has generated is proof that there was sufficient interest to justify running it. Res ipsa loquiter

And my reference was not to her marital status (as I suspect you know). It was to something that was linked up with court documents (as I suspect you know) and referenced by posters who claimed to be connected to the daughter's father.

You can defend these folks all you want, but I do not think they were victimized. It would be interesting to know how this story came about.

Perhaps there should be an online comments section on every story.

The absence of any reference in that story to the child's father was a pretty glaring omission, btw.

Les Jones's picture

I don't see a problem with

I don't see a problem with KNS having run the story. People can say "why did they cover this and not that" until the cows come home about any piece. The paper can cover this girl's excessive birthday party and still have time and space for war and peace, the economy, the sports page, the funnies, Dear Abby, the crossword, and the Jumble. No one's obituary wound up on the cutting room floor for lack of space.

The volume of response is evidence enough that people are interested in the topic.


Hey, Les, why don't we just call each other assholes and get it over with. - Somebody on the old Southknoxbubba.net (if that was you, claim your quote and win net.fame!)

StaceyD's Cat's picture

elsewhere. . .

on (link...) , there's more discussion about the mother and her partner.

From kgis.org, apparently they recently paid almost 265K for their house, which certainly isn't lavish by Knoxville or Farragut standards. I sense a whole lotta debt for this party.

And for folks who think fancy cars and slick suits equal lots of money, I'd encourage you to read Stanley's and Danko's "The Millionaire Next Door," which is an exhaustive survey of folks who have money. My brief summary of their book is that if they have money, they don't flash it. The top two cars driven by millionaires? Ford pick up and a Toyota Camry. And they were bought used.

Anonymous's picture

Daughter's Father........

Does exist, loves his daughter very much, and is appalled at the way she is being portrayed in these videos. He also loves how he was ommitted in every aspect of the story- like he doesn't exist in his daughter's life. (Which is far from true) Thanks KNS for sharing the "truth."

Number9's picture

Oh, come on, Nine, the

Oh, come on, Nine, the amount of comment this story has generated is proof that there was sufficient interest to justify running it. Res ipsa loquiter

And my reference was not to her marital status (as I suspect you know). It was to something that was linked up with court documents (as I suspect you know) and referenced by posters who claimed to be connected to the daughter's father.

You can defend these folks all you want, but I do not think they were victimized. It would be interesting to know how this story came about.

Perhaps there should be an online comments section on every story.

The absence of any reference in that story to the child's father was a pretty glaring omission, btw.

Several points. Absolutely there is interest in the story. Did a 15 year old girl have to be raked over the coals for this story? No. I remember you defended your daughter admirably just a few weeks ago when she was attacked on the Blab. Leslie Gibbs has defended her daughter as she should.

My reference to the Fourth and Gill was an analogy and not a reference.

I haven't meant to defend Leslie Gibbs, if what I wrote was interpreted as a defense of her I did not express myself very well. But I do defend Brittany Gibbs because she is a 15 year old and I know how vicious some of the little bastards that go to Farragut High School can be. I also understand how little maturity the typical 15 year has.

I think if the Sentinel is to have a comment section on stories it should be for ALL stories. Will there be a comment section in tonight's Sentinel when the story is written about County Mayor Mike Ragsdale being investigated by Knox County Commission?

Bbeanster's picture

Several points. Absolutely

Several points. Absolutely there is interest in the story. Did a 15 year old girl have to be raked over the coals for this story? No. I remember you defended your daughter admirably just a few weeks ago when she was attacked on the Blab. Leslie Gibbs has defended her daughter as she should. >>

Bbeanster's picture

Several points. Absolutely

Several points. Absolutely there is interest in the story. Did a 15 year old girl have to be raked over the coals for this story? No. I remember you defended your daughter admirably just a few weeks ago when she was attacked on the Blab. Leslie Gibbs has defended her daughter as she should. >>

Nine, something told me you were going to bring that up, although I'd hoped you wouldn't. My daughter's name was brought up in a thread critiquing my work -- which has absolutely nothing to do with her. I neither started nor contributed to that thread until someone dragged her into it and ridiculed her by name just because she was my daughter. Leslie Gibbs tried to get her kid on MTV, and, failing that, settled for the local paper, thus exposing her to ridicule. There would have been no need to defend her daughter if she hadn't used her to seek attention. I wrote a story about Mike Ragsdale. If you see similarities between these two situations, you're smoking something stronger than what the Wests were peddling.

I do, however, reserve the right to brag about both my kids at some time in the near future. They are kind-hearted, smart, accomplished, good-looking and have grown up to be highly successful adults despite never having had their birthday parties written up in the paper. They have also promised not to put me in a home.

mudtaco's picture

"Leslie Gibbs tried to get

"Leslie Gibbs tried to get her kid on MTV, and, failing that, settled for the local paper, thus exposing her to ridicule. There would have been no need to defend her daughter if she hadn't used her to seek attention."

Leslie Gibbs did NOT fail to get her daughter on MTV. She realized what most people who have ever seen the real MTV show realize- that they want the birthday girl to act like a spoiled, ungrateful brat and throw tanrums over things like getting the wrong flavor 3-tier cake, and Leslie didn't want Brittany to be falsely protrayed that way. She didn't throw the party to seek attention. She threw it for Brittany and her friends to have fun. Forgive them, for they were sucessful.

Anonymous's picture

Same Leslie Gibbs

Believe me when I say this: she is the same Leslie Gibbs that is referenced to in the court documents. She was charged with embezzlement in Sevier County, and she is married to a woman. Wonder if her current boss knows of the embezzlement? I'm sure they do now.

Jeanne's picture

But it's "compelling local news"

Ms. Gibbs doesn’t claim to have been “set up” by the media, she simply states that “they exploit things and blow things out of proportion”. On his blog The Upfront Page, Mr. McElroy seems to provide ample evidence to support her claim. He tell us that even before the party is held, the kns staff is “universally aghast” at the plans. The paper decides to attend and “simply describe the party, in detail”, knowing there will be “extreme negative reaction” and that they will be “exposing the family to public scorn”

If they accepted Leslie Gibbs’ invitation without sharing that knowledge with her, it’s fair to say they exploited the situation. Whether or not Ms. Gibbs should have seen it coming is no more relevent than whether or not she is deserving of the ridicule brought on by the article.

"Are y'all really THAT disconnected from reality out there in Farragutia?"

Yes, yes ma’am, we are. Not a brain or an instinct in existence west of the Pellisippi. Everyone in the REAL Knox County knows that.

"I know how vicious some of the little bastards that go to Farragut High School can be."

And you’re most welcome! After all, if we didn’t take them out here, there might be vicious little bastards in every high school in the land.

Number9's picture

Last night I asked the

Last night I asked the question of whether the article the Sentinel would print later about the investigation of Mayor Ragsdale would have a comment section.

It does not. Hypocrisy prevails at the Sentinel.

So why does Jack McElroy choose to have a comment section for a 15 year old girls birthday party but not have a comment section when the County Mayor is under investigation? The articles about the Wests family had comment sections. Why the difference?

Number9's picture

Jack McElroy responds

Hard to say if this is a Mea Culpa but Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy has given serious thought to the Sentinel's three page story of a birthday party for Brittany Gibbs. It is clear that Jack understands why including the comment section may not have been appropriate considering Brittany's age.

I propose that the Sentinel have a comment section for all stories and use their staff resources to make sure that hurtful, harmful, and libelous comments are removed. Jack does write that several comments were removed due to their content.

What can be learned from this episode? That Knox County is a divided community. That beneath the southern pleasantness there is anger, contempt, jealously, envy, and perhaps even malice.

It didn't use to be that way. Perhaps the Sentinel will explore how this division has come about? Perhaps a story on how bridges can be built? It would be a sad affair if the only time this community is united and unified is on football Saturday.

Part of the problem is a few politicians that are using class warfare as a tool to divide the community. I don't think anyone knew how strong these feelings were until this column was printed. Maybe we all learned something after all.

On South Park this would be the time for Stan to tell us what we have learned. I wonder what Stan would say? 

 

Lessons learned from a birthday party

Who would have predicted that a story about a birthday party would be one of the most controversial the News Sentinel would publish this year?

The paper has been deluged with comments since "My Super Sweet 15" ran last Sunday, and the reaction certainly has given me pause to think.

Many readers objected to devoting two and half pages to coverage of a lavish party for a teenager. The point is well taken.

Certainly it was a judgment call to present the story in such detail. We did so because we thought there would be high reader interest, and there was. But many readers who saw the party as decadent felt our coverage glorified the event and contributed to the decadence.

In planning the story, we hadn't looked at it that way. We were invited by the family to cover the party, and we accepted, believing that its extravagance and the statement it made about popular culture made it newsworthy. We chose to report descriptively and nonjudgmentally, letting the event speak for itself.

But I appreciate the feedback from those who felt our presentation went overboard and sent a harmful message to youth in the community.

Other readers complained that we don't give extensive coverage to more positive role models. I disagree with that.

That same day's paper included our annual full-page salute to minority youths inducted into the National Achievers Society as well as the latest in our 3-month-long series profiling the good works of the United Way. A creative new Christian ministry was the centerpiece story on both A1 and B1.

The previous day we had published a B1 centerpiece about innovative programs for deaf students. The day before that our front-page centerpiece was about a mission trip that helped a Haitian man who needed surgery. That story was a follow-up to an eight-page section we published on the mission last year.

We believe coverage of the heroes of our community is vitally important, and I'm confident the paper reflects that.

Some readers objected that we unfairly held the family up to scorn, and I can see where that would be a concern. I am less worried about the mother who hosted the party. She's an adult, and she invited us. I'm more concerned about how her daughter might deal with the coverage.

If we crossed a line, it may have been in allowing readers to comment online. Hundreds did. Some remarks were cruel, and we removed several.

Like many newspapers nowadays, we believe reader interaction is important, and I certainly welcomed the more than 100 comments that were posted on my blog, although many were sharp criticisms of the newspaper.

But, if I had fully anticipated the hurtfulness of some of the remarks directed at the family, I might have handled the comments differently.

Finally, some critics said simply that the party wasn't news. Perhaps it wasn't in the traditional sense. But I'd argue that it was news as that term is understood in today's diverse media world.

David Zeeck, president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, offered this broad definition after a recent "Future of News" conference:

"News is the ultimate manifestation of a human desire to know what's going on, to make sense of the world, to catch up on the latest. It can be a letter from home, gossip at the water cooler, or a phone call from a friend you haven't heard from in a while. It's a stock pick or a wanted poster. Sometimes news comes dressed as entertainment -- as in movie reviews and baseball scores.

"News is information I need. It's intelligence that gives me an edge on the competition. It's knowledge to help me prepare for the worst. It's facts that set me straight, trends that show me where things are headed, predictions that may (or may not) come true. It's wisdom that helps me live better."
News is what people talk about, and people definitely were talking about "My Super Sweet 15." Our Web traffic showed it was the best-read and the most discussed story of the year.

In the final analysis, I still believe that discussion will prove valuable and contribute to the community's understanding of itself. At the News Sentinel, we'll take the feedback to heart and use it to understand how the newspaper can better foster such discussions in the future.

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