Haslam urges media be ‘active and engaged’ as ‘unheard of outside money’ enters TN politics

Gov. Bill Haslam told Tennessee Press Association members Thursday that he hopes they maintain their news coverage in a “really important political year” despite economic pressures facing newspapers and that he believes there should be “not just a free press but an active and engaged press matters,” reports the Times Free Press.

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Study finds ‘hodgepodge’ of 538 open records exemptions

Senate State and Local Government Chairman Ken Yager (R-Kingston), left) and Sen. Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville), attend a hearing on open records exemptions in Nashville on Jan. 30, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Senate State and Local Government Chairman Ken Yager (R-Kingston), left) and Sen. Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville), attend a hearing on open records exemptions in Nashville on Jan. 30, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

When Tennessee’s open records law was first enacted in 1957, lawmakers included just two exemptions for information that should remain confidential. By 1957, that number had risen to 89. As of the beginning of this year, there are 538 exemptions.

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AG Slatery: Exit of communications director ‘a bummer for our office’

Press release from Tennessee Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today announced Harlow Sumerford, Director of Communications, will leave the Attorney General’s Office to join the communications team at HCA Healthcare as Manager of Media Relations.

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Nashville talk show host Ralph Bristol terminated

Conservative Nashville radio talk show host Ralph Bristol says he has been fired by Cumulus Media “due to irreconcilable editorial differences.” He has been talking on WWTN – often with Republican elected officials and candidates as guests – for 11 years.

Excerpt from a Bristol Facebook post:

We cannot agree on what information and communications should be kept private and which should be hashed out publicly. Since I won’t abide by their rules, they will not abide by my continued employment.

Please know first, I am not sad or angry. And I have nothing to fear, financially or otherwise. I’m free, happy and as blessed as ever.

Bristol wrote that he may do daily podcasts instead and put up the first on Friday, during which he says the station officials accused him of “insubordination” and the dispute had to do with what he considers misleading information on President Trump’s medical diagnosis.

Anonymous robocall bashes Burchett over reported FBI investigation

A Tuesday night robocall to some Knox County residents slammed Knox County Mayor and Second Congressional candidate Tim Burchett over reports that he faces an FBI investigation, reports the News Sentinel. The automated call came from a number used by the Farragut Press, though Publisher Tony Cox says the publication had nothing to do with the call.

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Erik Schelzig named editor of Tennessee Journal

Erik Schelzig, an Associated Press reporter on Tennessee state government and politics for a dozen years, has been named editor of The Tennessee Journal.

He succeeds Ed Cromer, who is retiring after 20 years of researching and writing astute weekly reviews of Volunteer State governmental and political doings as editor — preceded by years of newspaper reporting, much of it also on politics and state government.  Cromer announced Schelzig’s appointment in Friday’s edition of the Journal, which also hosts this blog.

Schelzig, a married father of three with a master’s degree in political science, spent a year in Germany working for the Washington Post and the German news magazine Der Spiegel before signing on with the AP in 2003.

“Erik’s knowledge of state government and politics and his many contacts will serve Journal readers well,” writes a “delighted” Cromer.

Note: Having been privileged to know both Ed and Erik for years, this old guy is delighted, too. The fellows have different personalities, but they are both smart, intensely interested in government and politics and dedicated to being as objective as possible in reporting. In these changing times, The Tennessee Journal is positioned for building in the future on the remarkable foundation of its past. As for that past, see previous post HERE on what some politicians have to say about Ed on retirement. In this case, being as objective as possible, they’re absolutely correct.

TN officials on retirement of Ed Cromer as Tennessee Journal editor

Sharing some comments received from public officials on the retirement of Ed Cromer as editor of Tennessee Journal for two decades:

Gov. Bill Haslam: “For 20 years, if you wanted the full story of what was happening at the State Capitol or Legislative Plaza, you turned to the Tennessee Journal. Ed Cromer has a depth of knowledge and understanding of how state government works that is matched by few in his industry. His knack for explaining the most complicated and important political issues in witty and simple ways will be sorely missed. I will personally miss Ed’s thoughtfulness and kindness and I wish him much happiness in this well-deserved retirement.”

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally: “Ed Cromer’s Tennessee Journal is read each week cover-to-cover, word-for-word by anyone and everyone involved in Tennessee politics and state government. For Tennessee politicos, it is as essential as food and water. A highly-skilled reporter and an excellent writer, he has reported the news thoroughly, accurately and with integrity throughout his career. Ed’s professionalism is the gold standard for political journalism. I offer my sincere congratulations on his retirement and mourn this significant loss of institutional knowledge in the Tennessee press corps.”

Attorney General Herbert Slatery: “It is very difficult to express how much I will miss the weekly writings of Ed Cromer – he is one of a kind. Ed combined a deep knowledge of state government and politics with a sharp wit and unmatched journalistic integrity. The Journal has been a must read for decades thanks to Ed. I have often said “we need more like Ed Cromer” knowing full well that finding someone who could teach you and make you chuckle at the same time is virtually impossible. While much deserved, Ed’s retirement is a big loss for the media industry and an even bigger loss for our State.”

In ‘warm conversation,’ Corker tells Trump of ‘newfound empathy’

Press release from Sen. Bob Corker (with headline saying, ‘Corker Pushes Back on False Reports About Why He Supported Tax Reform’)

WASHINGTON – In an interview with host Brian Kilmeade on “Fox & Friends” today, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) pushed back against false reports about why he supported tax reform. Corker is not a member of the tax-writing committee and had no involvement in crafting the legislation. He requested no specific tax provisions throughout the months-long debate and had no knowledge of the pass-through provision in question. Corker said he supported the legislation because our country will be better off with it than without it.

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On the ‘testy’ exchange between Corker and Wolf Blitzer on tax bill

Excerpt from The Hill’s report on a “testy” exchange between Tennessee U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer:

“I know I am being maligned,” Corker told Blitzer on Tuesday. “It’s just malicious.”

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Hall tax repeal prompts letter-writing war between GOP legislators and Democrats

A letter-writing war has been underway in recent editions of The Cleveland Daily Banner between Republican state legislators representing Bradley County and Democrats. A letter from state Democratic  Chair Mary Mancini was the latest episode and prompted the newspaper to do a roundup story that chronicles the back-and-forth written sniping.

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Posts and Opinions about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.