A producer from the 98 Rock morning show stood across the street from Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s home Thursday and mocked her with a “wellness basket” and calls to come out of her house where she has spent most of the last month recovering from pneumonia.
Coming on the day when there was speculation that Pugh might resign in the wake of her “Healthy Holly” book scandal that started to unfold when The Sun broke the story of the mayor receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from the University of Maryland Medical System for self-published books, the 98 Rock stunt has drawn considerable attention. (Many thanks to The Sun’s Sarah Meehan, who was stationed outside Pugh’s house today and tweeted video of part of the incident.)
The question is whether you think what the station did is a good or a bad thing.
When I first watched producer Hannah Pearce on Facebook calling to Pugh with a megaphone from across the street, I cringed.
“Good morning Madame Mayor,” she began. “This is 98 Rock. … We’re here to check on you. I’ve brought you a wellness basket. There’s some chicken noodle soup … a little bit of toilet paper and a half-full bag of cough drops. They might be expired. We are willing to trade the wellness basket for your resignation. Think about your health. What would Holly do?”
Referencing, Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog whose shadow is used to predict weather, Pearce called out, to Pugh saying, “Punxsutawney Pugh, where are you?”
I thought this is exactly the kind of of thing that makes some see the media as an empty-headed pack of jackals going in for the kill only after the prey has been wounded and is now vulnerable.
I am guessing even some residents who are disgusted with Pugh for what she did in using her position on the UMMS board and the power of her City Hall office to line her pockets would see the 98 Rock mockery as a kind of bullying.
But there are media and then there are media. The one thing media are not is monolithic.
Having worked my entire career in the part of the media that does the heavy lifting of actually gathering, verifying and reporting the kinds of facts that expose crooked politicians, as The Sun’s Luke Broadwater did with the first “Healthy Holly” story, I am not much impressed or amused by what 98 Rock did.
But, on the other hand, Pugh brought this ridicule on herself. And after 30 days of paid leave and her latest word being that she would return as mayor, almost anything any media platform can do to get her to resign — or at least to communicate with the public — feels like fair game.
This is what morning shows like “Justin, Scott and Spiegel” do. And, in treating her like a laughingstock, this stunt will only help amp up the pressure for her to resign.
Media have not used ridicule and shame enough in this town on public officials who betray us.