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Airing Both Sides of Murray Flap

June 15, 1986

Thank you for printing the transcripts of the tapes of your interviews with City Manager Sylvester Murray (June 8). Having read them in their entirety, I would like to express my opinion of the brouhaha you caused. You owed it to Mr. Murray and to all of San Diego to tell us what he really had to say. You have cruelly and unnecessarily made a titillating "news" story out of what I found, otherwise, to be intelligent and perceptive responses to your questions.

Mr. Murray came to this city as a stranger. He had made it his business to familiarize himself with the City Charter, his duties, the limits on his responsibility, and has attempted to become acquainted with the community. No reasonable person should find fault with that.

At the very end of your second interview, when he had been generous with his time, had made thoughtful observations about the city's present and future, had praised top administrators and the City Council, he found it necessary to remind you that he was due at a meeting in five minutes. You then asked some brief questions about city planning.

Then your interviewer said, "Let me ask you one unrelated question," and proceeded to inquire about Mr. Murray's personal background and how he got into "this kind of business." It is obvious from the transcript that you were at the end of the interview, down to anecdotes, in a hurry, and being very informal. His remark in response to your unrelated question was equally unrelated to "news."

Where, oh where, was your editor's famous blue pencil? You have taken out of context one informal, boys-will-be-boys quote, and blown it up completely out of proportion to the importance of the thrust of the entire interview. On the record or "off," it would be nice if you would not sensationalize trivia.

You claim to have a "very, very real sense of responsibility." Apparently it does not extend to avoiding irrelevant quotes which might cost a man his job, and, as a side effect, necessitate the sequestering of a long-suffering jury. You should be ashamed!


La Jolla

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