We were surprised the other day to see that The Dallas Morning News, which has otherwise tenaciously clung to the '70s ideals of newspapering (minus unions), has broken new journalistic ground. Buzz was browsing through a slick promotional book for the law firm of Lynn Stodghill Melsheimer & Tillotson when we happened upon a series of glowing endorsements of the firm's lawyers. Nestled among the hyperbole from corporate execs, municipal officials, and other lawyers, we were stunned to see a shameless plug from an unusual source: a News reporter. Could a lawyer dream for more than this?:

Tracy Everbach of the Dallas Morning News, courthouse beat, says about Tom Melsheimer: "Tom Melsheimer is extremely talented, and has excellent courtroom presence. His jury summations are clear and simple. He makes the jury understand and they trust him."

And, Buzz might add, Melsheimer obviously knows how to play a reporter like a Stradivarius. We also might add that because of the News' stand against freedom of speech for their employees, Everbach, fearing firing, would not talk to Buzz. (Ironically, another lawyer at Melsheimer's firm is currently handling a lawsuit against Morning News parent A.H. Belo Corp.)

We must admit that initially we were taken aback by this unusual concept--reporters writing endorsements for the people they cover. Sure, it sounds unethical, but the more we thought about it, the more we realized that the News had once again taken a bold step into the future of community journalism. We're sure that we'll soon be seeing it everywhere. In coming months, we might see WFAA-Channel 8's investigative ace Robert Riggs, for instance, log-rolling for former DISD trustee Dan Peavy:

In decades of investigative journalism, I've covered everything from murder to S&L fraud. But when it comes to insurance sales, Dan's definitely your man! Just pick up a secure phone and talk to Dan--he'll work with you to save you money, and make a little himself. Dan's never afraid to call a spade a spade--or a son-of-a-bitch, or tits on a boar hog, or an asshole or a get the idea. And if you don't believe me, just ask his neighbors.

Of course, it won't be long until the national media jumps on this bandwagon. We foresee CNN's Wolf Blitzer plugging Bill Clinton:

Bill's just about the finest coffee-break host you could ask for. Not only is he a seasoned professional who has worked face-to-face with top executives from around the world, he's got a warm one-on-one way with the "little people"--particularly the ladies. He seldom obstructs justice and never, never inhales.

But it's a Marty Griffin endorsement of Nina Shahravan that we're really waiting for:

When it comes to XXX-rated Gothic romance writers, I can't recommend a better one. On a billiards table or off, Nina can spin a fascinating yarn that mesmerizes the best of them--don't I know. Ouch!

No cheap date
We were relieved to learn that Mayor Ron Kirk's moonlighting--including accepting a six-figure salary from his old law firm, Gardere & Wynne, for doing nothing during his tenure as mayor, and more recently taking a $36,000 corporate board position with Brinker International--was only to gain financial security for his family.

For a minute there, we thought Ron was getting greedy--never a good feature in a city official.

It probably also explains that chauffeured Lincoln Town Car Ron acquired to ride around in as mayor--it makes him feel all warm and financially secure.

With that in mind, we were relieved to see that the mayor has leased a brand-new and very secure BMW 740iL to drive when the Town Car and driver aren't available. There's nothing like 282 horsepower and a cocoon of German steel to make you feel cozy. Of course, that kind of security would set you back $85,000 if you paid for it outright.

We've got our fingers crossed that the Dallasites will soon vote to raise city council members' pay from $50 per meeting to $212, allowing Ron to give up his odd jobs and concentrate on being mayor. And we hear the Dodge Neon is a very nice car.

Give us Marty, please
After ace reporter Marty Griffin's last reporting coup--topless dancer Nina Shahravan's claim that she was raped at gunpoint by a Dallas Cowboy--turned out to be a hoax, KXAS-Channel 5 decided to send Marty on an extended undercover assignment in his own apartment during the February sweeps.

What kind of gratuitous sweeps fare did Channel 5 dig up instead? An investigative piece on germs in your shower, an undercover-camera series on public rudeness, and a jail-house interview with a moron who led police on a highspeed chase.

Let's not even talk about the dirty bathroom story. The point of the high-speed chase story, we were told, was to answer the timeless question "Why would someone try to outrun the police?" The answer we learned from the incarcerated driver was, "I dunno...It was pretty stupid."

Finally, we learned from condescending anchor and right-wing operative Mike Snyder in his rudeness series that people in Dallas and Fort Worth don't say thank you or smile much--and that Mike (whose smile gives us the willies) will check up on our etiquette from time to time.

To all of which Buzz says, as politely as possible: May we pleeeeese have Marty back? We don't know about NBC's rapidly dwindling pool of viewers, but we'd rather see Marty uncover the character flaws of the rich and famous any day than be reminded what pathetic excuses for human beings the rest of us are.

By the way, does anyone remember last week when Channel 5 was plugging its made-for-TV film Love's Deadly Triangle: The Texas Cadet Murders, the pitch was "The movie some people don't want you to see." Those people turned out to be the management of KXAS, who despite winning a court fight to air the film, decided not to show it.

--Glen Warchol