We have got to give credit, where credit is due. Chief of the Eureka Police Mills is one of the smartest, and probably the most devious Police Chiefs Eureka has ever seen. We say that after reading yesterdays article in North Coast Journal written by Editor Thadeus Greenson, documenting his last days as an ethical journalist. The article gave an insider’s look at the testing process for Captain at the Eureka Police Department. In fact, Thaddeus wasn’t just given an inside look, he was an active participant in choosing the next Captain! Just like the US Military did in Iraq, Thadeus was “embedded” with the police to have an inside look at the workings of EPD. Just like that……bam!….the only reporter to have questioned the killing of Tommy McClain has now been influenced and co-opted, so to speak, by the Teflon Chief!!! According to Greenson, when he was asked about joining a panel to decide the next Captain he replied, “I told Mills I’d mull it over…..”.
Ultimately, he was seduced, and allowed himself to be “embedded” into and used to help sanitize a process that could shape Eureka for a generation.
Here’s what’s happening with this promotional process according to Police Chief Mills:
“Mills said he wants the department’s next captains to be in line for the chief’s chair when he’s ready to move on, so the promotions are important.” (Deadly important, as we have seen recently)
Greenson was the only journalist to at least begin covering the murder of Tommy McClain, and now he has been given a shiny ribbon and pat on the back from the Police Chief. Accepting that role meant that Greenson had to STFU about who was in line for Captain (and he signed a confidentiality agreement). It really isn’t all that amazing that Chief Mills asked Thadeus Greenson to participate. In fact, it’s pretty logical given that Greenson has been the only local reporter to question the murder of Tommy McClain. What surprised us was the internal dialogue that Thadeus reports he had:
“The catch for me was that large parts of the process were going to be confidential and I would have to sign a nondisclosure agreement. And, if I joined the panel, I would be asking questions provided by Mills, with only a limited opportunity to ask follow up questions. As a journalist, telling me I’m not allowed to ask my own questions and that what’s said needs to be kept secret is generally a deal breaker. Further, I believe journalists should keep their sources and subjects at arm’s length to preserve objectivity as much as possible.”
Besides that, a big catch for us is, we hear that the command officer that bears responsibility for the Tommy McClain murder is up for consideration as Captain. Only in Eureka!
A journalist with integrity and ethics would have ended the internal argument there. “Thank you Chief, but I will be declining your offer” would have been the right thing to do as a journalist and an editor.
From the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics:
“Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.” (doesn’t say sign confidentiality agreements).
“Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.” (no comment necessary).
So it looks like the public can’t count on Thadeus Greenson to be asking the essential questions about the McClain murder or EPD in general. We have always looked up to Thad Greenson around here.