Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pittsburgh's Own - Marty Griffin.

Why it so difficult to find anyone on local AM radio with any objective and/or credible commentary? I've been listening to "investigative reporter" Marty Griffin during my lunch break for several months now. I'm appalled at his disingenuous facade of impartiality. He fashions himself as some kind of renegade maverick questing for difficult truths. His self-aggrandisement has reached the level of the formation of "Marty's Army"- the ranks of which are filled by naive locals who trust in Griffin's claims of integrity. Their confidence would be better invested elsewhere.

Griffin certainly has a spotty history. He was actually forced out of a job with television station KXAS in Dallas, TX for allegedly conspiring with a supposed "victim" (and topless dancer) to fabricate rape charges against Dallas Cowboys Erik Williams and Michael Irvin (1997). Griffin's attempt to manufacture a big story unravelled when his partner recanted her testimony. His prevarications resulted in a $2.2 million settlement pay-out from KXAS to resolve a defamation suit on the part of the accused. Of course this turned out to be the perfect resume builder for a job with our hometown KDKA. Despite the abject failure of his adventurism, Griffin admits no wrondoing.

Our "hero" has continued his record of flawed "journalism" in the town of his birthplace (Griffin was born and raised in Shadyside- which only confirms my prejudices about that neighborhood's inhabitants). In 2006 Griffin set up the Reverend Brent Dugan of Community Presbyterian Church in Ben Avon. KDKA did a sweeps-week promotion for an upcoming Marty Griffin report about (in Griffin's own words) the "uncovered, possibly illegal, activity by a local minister, activities which, at the very least, violated the rules of his denomination" (sic). While Dugan wasn't named in the promotions, his image was clearly depicted in the promo spots. Apparently Griffin had been following the Pastor in a month-long investigation of public sexual behavior centering on an adult bookstore- which turned out to be homosexual relations with a consenting adult. The story was never aired due to calls from a concerned party close to Dugan, who told the station that the Pastor was considering harming himself. Evidently Griffin never bothered to notify Dugan about the station's change of heart. Dugan killed himself with an overdose of aspirin and alcohol.

One can only guess at the limits of harm Griffin is willing to cause to victims of his shoddy and unprofessional reporting. In a brief google search, I discovered this account of further manipulation and outright lies in an "expose" of the spending of student activity funds at CMU.

Particularly rankling is Griffin's latest campaign to smear the teachers of the Baldwin School District (who are currently on strike). Griffin seems to miss no opportunity to misrepresent the facts of the situation. He starts his argument by comparing Baldwin's test scores against those of Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Claire. He makes absolutely no mention of the radically varying demographics between these areas. At one point he claimed that the teacher union was requesting a 6% salary raise. When confronted on live radio with a correction by a representative of the union, who pointed out that the figure was absolutely wrong- Griffin hastily changed the subject without any admission of error.

Even more infuriating is his outright dismissal of social class inequities in the comparison and consideration of district test scores. This is an easy stance for someone born and raised in Shadyside. He says "forget about single mothers"... forget poverty levels and demographics... something must be done, and "Marty's Army" will do it! His solution is (quite predictably) privatization. That should come as no surprise... he graduated from Central Catholic High School. But he continually refuses to acknowledge that private school performance can't rationally or fairly be compared to that in public schools, due to the fact that PSSA's are not mandated in private schools. He also glosses over the fact that private schools have a self-selected sample of students, the vast majority of which come from families who make more than the median income. The most reliable predictor of student performance is family income level.

What galls me most about Griffin is not his skewed political perspective (I'm used to that), but rather his pretensions of populism. He claims too often to be beyond partisan politics. If there is any truth to Griffin's non-allegiance, it is due only to his relentless drive to advance his own career- regardless of the harm he cause to others. That obsession would naturally preclude all other loyalties. The ultimate advance to be expected from "Marty's Army" is Marty's own self-promotion. Believe me- this isn't about the foot soldiers or the nobility of the fight.

Extra Bonus: To read information about Marty's bigotry toward Gypsies, CLICK HERE and scroll 2/3rds down the page! Highlights include his characterization of an entire ethnicity as "thieves, criminals and freaks", and his assertion that they all engage in inbreeding!


Blogger TeeBubba said...

I used to complain that Mike P. had no substance and thus was unworthy of having that 9am til noon slot on KDKA...not realizing he would be replaced someday with the darkside of the opposite..

9:23 AM  
Blogger Rob Park said...

Why do people watch and listen to this Marty's crap?

The low-tech FM/AM device in my car allows very few options, hence I've listened to this the radio show.

I may listen but who are the people in Marty's Army? I doubt they're from Shady Side, since they too don't have ipods or satellite radios.

The history of journalism show this Marty's form of "news information" has been around as long as the profession. But at least now
we can read your account of the Baldwin strike.

This was a good story but more of a two part story. Let us read your complete views on the strike.

Sorry for meandering.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...


I don't remember too much about Pintek. From what I do recall, he didn't bother me too much.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...


I'm not sure exactly what demographic makes up "Marty's Army", but from listening to the show, I would assume that they aren't very intelligent. A lot of them are folks that like to complain about taxes, indiscriminately of how they are used.

I don't know if I want to get too deep into my thoughts on teacher strikes at this point, and on this forum.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when Marty Griffin went on his rampage about Gypsies last summer. It was appaling. What's even more disgusting is the fact that he still has a job. That's Pittsburgh for ya.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Yeah, ya know... the Pittsburgh demographic does seem to be vulnerable to racist thinking. But I wonder if that means this city is truly different, or if the people here are just less sophisticated, and thus not used to masking their prejudices.

10:11 PM  

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