On Journalism and Bucky Turco

I would like to invite all men’s activists, no matter how experienced you are with unfair and biased treatment in the media, to go open a trash can lid before reading this.

Done? Good.

Now, please take any idea you have ever had about bad reportage, of the lack of integrity and objectivity of which a journalist could possibly be guilty, and throw it directly into the trash.

Close the lid securely. You will never see bad journalism the same way again.

Enter Bucky Turco (no, I did not lift that name from a rejected Sopranos script), a writer for Animal New York, who attended, however briefly, the press conference for the First International Conference on Men’s Issues on June 26.

Turco subsequently wrote a hit piece on the actual conference, which he never attended. That, in and of itself, is not too surprising. There were media writers who attended and also went violently on the attack.

The difference, however, is that this time we get a slight peek behind the scenes into how this guy’s mind actually works. What we find is an unctuous sleaziod so vile and disingenuous that he makes Monica Hesse and David Futrelle look like Woodward and Bernstein.

Following is a recording of a conversation he had with operations manager Dean Esmay. Note the sneering and condescension he offered about two children who were at the event, and how critical he was of their behavior – as well as the implications about their parenting.

The fact is that both of these children are autistic. I happen to know because I have met them and met their families. One of the two boys, to which I have become quite attached, by the way, was tugging at the lanyards of some attendees. Part of his condition is an obsession with things being in order. The way the lanyards were hanging irregularly off the necks of some attendees was upsetting to him and he was trying to correct that in order to feel more comfortable.

Actually, it would have made a good story for the setting, given the disproportionate incidence of autism in boys. Well, it would have had there been a real journalist on hand.

Instead, there was Bucky Turco.

It is clear from the conversation that Turco’s only interest was in digging about the two boys and questioning Dean because he mistakenly thought the mother was his wife. It is also clear that he suspected Dean of forcing and restricting her to the parking lot outside in order to get his kids out of the way.

The mother was actually Dean’s ex-wife, and she was there in support of her husband, AVFM writer John Ribner. She was not forced into the parking lot, as I am betting she will show up in the comments and gladly tell you. She was being a supportive partner to her husband and a loving mother to her children, which Turco desperately wanted to reframe as two undisciplined brats being booted to the parking lot with the little wife playing the involuntary babysitter.

When he found out he was wrong, he did not bat an eye. He just stayed on the attack, looking for anything to twist into dirt.

I would start a rant here, but all I can think of is metaphors for pond scum and various kinds of excrement.

Mind you, all this is set against the backdrop of Turco listening to about five minutes of a press conference (his words) and then misleading his readers into thinking he had attended and reported on the entire event. He even titled the piece “Inside the First International Conference on Men’s Issues.” As you will hear in the recording, he was never inside anything more than his own twisted imagination.

There is more, including his ridiculous attempt to cast doubt on the idea of threats to the conference that were reported to Detroit Police. Turco, investigative genius that he is, tried to debunk that story by questioning the wrong police department. That, too, is on the recording.

At this point, the best thing to do is allow you to just listen, but I have to warn you, you might want to have that trash can handy, especially if you have eaten in the last week. And be prepared to see and hear more tomorrow, as Dean Esmay and John Ribner do a live hangout on the story.

There will be enough facts to make Turco run like Carl Lewis in the other direction.

Either way, welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the new low of lows in the modern culture of jaundiced journalism. Bucky Turco has set the bar, and you can wipe the soles of your shoes on it.

** Clarification: re: “Mind you, all this is set against the backdrop of Turco listening to about five minutes of a press conference (his words) and then misleading his readers into thinking he had attended and reported on the entire event.”

It is agreed that Turco was physically present at the press conference for more than five minutes. The reference to the five minutes was taken directly from Turco’s phone conversation with Dean Esmay at 5:45 of the recording. Whether Turco was at the press conference for five minutes or for the duration does not change the fact that he never attended the main conference, a separate event entirely from the press conference, which featured a significantly different lineup of speakers, was advertised and ticketed separately, and had different admission standards than the press conference. Turco was aware of this as he had requested and had been granted free admission to the main conference, which he did not attend. Turco misled his readers at Animal New York to believe  he had attended the conference, which he had not. 

** Update 2: A version with much-improved sound has been uploaded and is now shown here, for anyone who was having trouble hearing it clearly before. Still isn’t perfect but should be better.

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