I’ve run down a lot of great stories - and run after a lot of not-so-great politicians - in the 15 years since I started covering state and local politics.
Along the way, something - and a few mayoral and city council bodyguards - struck me: Almost every Detroit politician claims to be a disciple of the late, great Mayor Coleman A. Young. But very few of them honor Hizzoner’s practice of standing up to the media and fearlessly answering tough questions.
Is it a matter of the current generation just not knowing much about history? Or are they just chicken?
Unlike many politicians, I like to know what I’m talking about. So I consulted with Young’s former mayoral spokesman Bob Berg and one of his former advisers, Adolph Mongo.
Berg said Young feared no reporter. He might even pretend not to know which news organization a reporter came from to get their goat.
Mongo said today’s politicians are just cowardly. He says it’s one reason the city often finds itself in dire straits.
I’ve seen plenty of state and local politicians duck tough questions since I started covering Detroit city hall for the Detroit Free Press more than 15 years ago. And in the 4 ½ years since I joined Fox 2, I’ve amassed quite a collection of video in which elected officials elected to exit rather than meet with me or stop for a moment to answer my questions.
But only once have I chased a politician, who later agreed to meet with me, only to end the meeting by running off again.
While I tried to make sense of this encounter with state Rep. Brian Banks (D-Harper Woods), my keen-eyed partner Chris Sherban reviewed the video and noticed that this was not just a bizarre turn of events; it was a carefully orchestrated maneuver.
In the latest installment of our online series Chapter 10, Sherban put together a look at some of our more memorable encounters - including a step-by-step examination of our truly bizarre meeting with the right honorable Mr. Banks. Sherban and fellow super-shooter Matt Phillips provide in-depth analysis of the encounter as well as play-by-play. Ultimately, Sherban and Phillips conclude that I got owned.
I’m inclined to agree.
But, hey, I’m just a reporter, so my opinion doesn’t matter. I’ll leave it to you to decide.