Sunday, April 29, 2012

Let's open the Random Pixels mailbag

I just got this email from a loyal Random Pixels reader:
Dear Random Pixels

Yesterday, some friends and I were discussing the Miami Herald.

One of them brought up the fact that the Herald broke the story in the 1980s of the extra-marital affair Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart was having with an unmarried woman.

And that got us to wondering: number one, has the Herald ever reported on other instances of public figures cheating on their spouses or their private domestic issues, and, number two, has the Herald ever reported on the extra-marital affairs that have involved their own employees?


Puzzled in Pinecrest
Yes, "Puzzled," the Herald has reported on extra-marital affairs of other public figures.

One fairly recent example: The Herald's Joan Fleischman reported that a gay Miami TV anchor had filed a "domestic violence complaint" against his ex-partner. Fleischman also published private emails between the anchor and his "family therapist."

A more recent example was a Herald report on an alleged tryst between Miami Heat star Glen Rice and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in the 1980s.

As to the second part of your question: Yes, there have been instances of married Miami Herald staffers carrying on affairs.

And, because those staffers' names are published in the paper everyday; one could argue that they too, are public figures. But you're out of your mind if you expect the Herald to publish anything about those affairs.

One affair the Herald managed to cover up was between Fabiola Santiago and her immediate superior at the Herald's sister publication, El Nuevo Herald.

Santiago was the Spanish-language paper's city editor in 1989. When Santiago was promoted to managing editor by the man with whom she was having an affair, her colleagues staged a revolt.

The Herald's publisher at the time, David Lawrence, stepped in and in 1993, Santiago was eventually transferred to the English language side of news operations.

In Nov. 1993, the Herald published a short item that said Santiago's paramour and boss "has taken a sabbatical through the end of the year, when he will seek new career opportunities." How's that for corporate double-speak?

But that was then, and this is now.

Last September, Santiago's bosses at the Herald finally considered her sufficiently rehabilitated. So much so that they named her the Herald's newest columnist.

And, it wasn't long before she climbed up on her moral high horse and started wagging her finger at those she considered morally and ethically deficient.

Some of those on the receiving end of her rants have included a Cuban cardinal, a federal immigration judge, people who won't stop texting, taking phone calls and talking to each other in movie theaters, and a Broward judge who ordered a man accused of domestic abuse "to buy his wife flowers and a card, and take her out to dinner."

Santiago's most recent tongue-lashing was aimed squarely at Miami filmmaker Billy Corben.

Corben made news recently when he was cited in a defense attorney's motion for a new trial for a Florida City man convicted of armed robbery.

The lawyer argued in her motion that Corben - who was the trial’s jury foreman - violated the trial judge's orders by sending Twitter and Facebook messages to followers about his experiences in court.

In her column in Saturday's paper, Santiago called Corben's tweets, "silly musings." She characterized  Corben as "condescending" and called him a "tweeting twit."  How original.

Corben told me yesterday that Santiago interviewed him for about an hour prior to writing her column.

Corben says he told her several times that he was sorry if his tweets had "created any more work for the judge and the state attorney."

But, none of that got into Santiago's column.

Instead, she writes, "You’d think Corben would at least be humble and regretful, but no: 'I did a very good job, if not an excellent job.'"

Corben told me,  "She blatantly and disgracefully misrepresented my feelings."

Corben also told me the story he told to Santiago was essentially the same thing he told to radio hosts Paul and Young Ron last Wednesday.

I've embedded the interview below.

Billy Corben on Paul and Young Ron 4-25-2012 by rakonturMiami

Corben's friend and attorney, David O. Markus has written a letter to Herald editors in defense of the filmmaker.

In it he says...
If Billy Corben edited his movies the same way that Fabiola Santiago edited her interview with Billy for her recent Miami Herald op-ed, he would have been run out of the movie business.

Santiago’s opinion piece is really just a personal attack on Billy, which for lack of substance, resorts to name calling: for example, she called him “condescending,” interested in “self-promotion,” “stupid,” and a “twit.”

Why so harsh? Not because Corben tweeted about the case he was participating in and not because Corben violated any court order; he certainly didn’t.

It appears that Santiago was upset because Billy uses social media, something she appears to find disdainful. But all he did was shed some light on the process of being a juror -- like what food was available in the cafeteria (bistec with rice and beans), what movies are shown (old Sandra Bullock films), and the broken elevators.

There is nothing wrong with shining some sunlight on the intimidating and stressful process of going to be a juror. In fact, Santiago herself wrote an article for the Herald last year about jury service and like Billy, made observations about the food (“sturdy cortaditos and buttery Cuban toast”).
The Miami Herald owes Billy Corben an apology for allowing such a shabby smear job to be printed in its pages.

But, I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.


  1. Billy Corben is not only a great movie director and local legend here in Miami (and South Florida), but a very sincere and good guy. Every time I've had a chance of spending time with him, he's been nothing but honest, fair, and genuine to go along with that incredible sense of humor. By the looks of this article, Fabiola Santiago seems to be the polar opposite. And by the looks of her aforementioned "work ethic", the words genuine, credible, honest, and genuine don't seem to be part of her vocabulary! I'm just curious if Fabiola shouldn't be working for a tabloid and NOT a newspaper. She's a better (dare I say) "fit" there...

  2. Thanks Erik, I think you meant to write "SHOULD be working for a tabloid..." That's OK, I make the same mistake all the time.

  3. Let the BBW who is without sin cast the first stone.

  4. Bill, you forgot the former education reporter, Tania D., who allegedly had an affair with the Miami-Dade schools superintendant. The paper reported on it and was pretty transparent.

    1. Yes, you are correct.

      But that case was slightly different because the reporter had already taken a job with another newspaper. And while the Herald did report on the affair, the paper only did so because the emails were leaked to numerous people in the community.

      My point is that there's all kinds of hanky panky that takes place inside the Herald building that you never hear about.


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