Am I the only masochist who actually read through all the way to the end of that embarrassing Ray Hunt story on the front page of yesterday's Dallas Morning News? Well, see, whenever I see one of those stories in The News that has no apparent reason for being -- uh, this is a big story about Ray Hunt’s life ... why? -- I know I must read to the very darkest bottom of the corn crib, because only at the bottom will I find the rat.
In this case -- true to News form -- the real story was concealed in code at the end of a Biblical catalog of begets and begats: Hunt apparently wants to reopen the original 1970s Reunion land deal and maybe dish back to the city some of his land that hasn’t worked out over in the doggish southwest corner of downtown.
That’s why the story is in the paper. This is the suds job. Next, the stupid city council allows us to be reamed over this land. He bought it. Some of it failed. He should eat it. But, no. Guess who’s going to eat his mistakes? You got it.
It always works this way. You read a story in The News that doesn’t add up. Why is this here? What has happened to merit this coverage? That’s the red flag. That’s how you know the story is there for a non-journalistic reason. This is The News soaping us up for one of its buddies.
Party Pass: Dallas Cowboys v Chicago Bears
TicketsSun., Sep. 25, 7:30pm
RESTAURANT: AT&T Stadium - Cowboys v Bears
TicketsSun., Sep. 25, 7:30pm
Southwest Airlines State Fair Classic: Grambling vs Prairie View A&M
TicketsSat., Oct. 1, 4:00pm
University of North Texas Mean Green Football
TicketsSat., Oct. 1, 6:00pm
A major clue here is the fact that the story mentions but makes no effort to explain former Mayor Laura Miller’s objections to the Hunt Reunion deal. Had there been even a nod toward honest reporting, The News would have had to discuss the fact that the Dallas Times Herald caught Hunt and his cronies in the late 1970s negotiating behind the scenes an incredibly one-sided deal. The original Reunion deal was done in secret with the city manager in such a way that voters and the city council barely knew about it before the deal was inked.
I mean: At least mention that Miller may have had a sincere argument to make, why don’t you? But no, obviously they’re not going to do that. That would be actual journalism!
Other clues: the unbelievably reverential tone. The voice here is hushed, worshipful, almost bleating in its wretched knee-walking sycophancy. For example, the story quotes some clown as saying that all of the people who have been close to Ray Hunt in his long career are so upright and pious that none of them has even been divorced. Gosh, I know that one to be very untrue.
I don’t feel like embarrassing anybody here even though The News sort of made divorce an issue by publishing a stupid observation like this. But all Dave Michaels, the reporter, has to do was call any one of the Hunteroonis and ask if the no-divorce remark was true. He would have gotten an earful.
Oh, and then there’s the Kurdish thing. This same Sunday the front page of The New York Times carried a heartrending story about the terrible human cost of instability in Kurdistan, explaining how a whole lot of it has to do with Kurdish oil deposits.
Michaels’ story barely mentions the fact that Ray Hunt and his company have been criticized internationally for fomenting exactly these conditions in Kurdistan in their eagerness to get a Kurdish oil deal. Look, I’m sure the Kurdish oil thing is a complicated story, and I know I don’t have it mastered just because I’ve read a few articles. But I know this: Just in the interest of my self-respect as a reporter, I would not write a story about Ray Hunt and gloss over Kurdish oil in two sentences, followed by a line about how “a less sinister portrait emerges of the blue-eyed Texan” when you talk to his pals in Dallas.
Yuk! This is like the worst gush you’d expect to read in a fanzine.
There’s a certain irony here, in that a truly dispassionate look at Hunt and his role in Dallas probably would come out somewhere on the plus side. It’s true that he helped straighten out SMU after Bill Clements and the Dallas Older Guard made a national laughingstock of SMU over football corruption. It’s true that he helped hire Ron Kirk to come be the city’s first black mayor, which was a good thing for Dallas, even if Kirk himself did turn out to be a political cipher.
He and his peer Robert Decherd, whose family controls The News, are way better than the troglodytes who preceded them. But they’re not perfect, for God’s sake. They’re not royal. And running crap like this just makes The News look like the old South rag it was before the Times Herald taught it how to do modern journalism.
The blue-eyed Texan. Man, they are greasing us up. They’re gonna stick it to us triple for that toll road; they’re gonna make us eat all Ray Hunt’s crap property in the southwest end of downtown; The News is going to announce it all with clarion trumpets as if it were the Third Coming (after Ray). And you know the worst part? North Dallas is going to grovel on bended knee and say thank you, thank you.
Tell me something good. --Jim Schutze
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.