published Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Gerber: President’s visit brings cheers, jeers

Depending on which side of the political fence you stand, the phrases “Obama Nation” and “Obamination” are probably familiar to you.

And, again depending on where you stand, one of those phrases may describe your emotions about President Barack Obama’s visit to Chattanooga on Tuesday.

I will not be offended whichever phrase fits your feelings.

The president’s visit and surrounding hubbub prompted plenty of Times Free Press readers to share their thoughts on the president and how the newspaper covered his trip to town.

The top half of our front-page was dominated by a photo of Obama hugging Amazon employee Lydia Flanders, while the rest of A1, except for some teases to other stories at the bottom, was dedicated to Obama in Chattanooga. It seemed like every reader had an opinion about it.

The ups and downs:

• Some readers didn’t like the fact that an advertising sticker for a local jewelry store was plunked down on top of the president’s face on A1 — although at least one said it gave him an idea for his wife’s birthday.

Some said it was disrespectful to cover the president’s face with an ad and believed we’d done it on purpose. We didn’t. The newsroom and advertising department are entirely separate here, and I promise that page designer Nick Fowler, who put together Wednesday’s front page, didn’t position the photo to make a landing spot for the sticker.

The stickers are added after the page is printed. And if we wanted to cover up Obama’s face, we certainly wouldn’t have run such a large photo of him.

• At least a dozen readers said they loved the six-column photo of Obama on the front page and will keep it as a souvenir. At least a dozen more hated it and said it gave Obama too much publicity in a state where he is not popular.

It’s worth remembering that while Tennessee is a red state, voters inside the city of Chattanooga sometimes lean blue.

• Some quibbled with the headline “City embraces Obama,” which ran on the front page the day after the president’s visit.

While the headline was partly a play on the photo of Obama embracing Flanders, it also was intended to convey the rah-rah frenzy of cheers and cellphone photos inside the Amazon distribution center. One woman asked Obama to sign her T-shirt. He did. (Right shoulder, black sharpie ink, reports columnist David Cook who witnessed the moment).

Obama did get a rock-star welcome at Amazon, but it’s a fair point that it was an invited crowd and protesters were kept out, so enthusiasm is what you’d expect in such a handpicked crowd.

• Some local residents felt insulted by the fact that the president didn’t acknowledge Amazon’s neighbor, the German-owned Volkswagen plant, while mentioning the Big Three American car makers in his speech. VW has created lot of jobs in this city — about 2,700 — and the locally made Passat is certainly a source of pride here.

• Many readers commented that Obama’s visit to Chattanooga was a proud moment for the city. The president gave a shout-out to Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. And I couldn’t help noticing that, in their reports, the national cable and radio news networks said the president was visiting “Chattanooga” rather than saying he was visiting, “Chattanooga, Tennessee.”

Maybe I’m biased, but it seems like a big deal for Chattanooga to get a standalone mention in the national media, like Chattanooga is famous enough that the media figures everyone already knows what state we’re in.

“It speaks well of Chattanooga’s rising profile that Obama made a visit there,” wrote a reader from Atlanta.

Speaking of Atlanta, Jim Galloway, who writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Political Insider” feature, wrote Tuesday that Obama had “arrived safely in the Atlanta suburb of Chattanooga.”

I guess perhaps he was commenting on Atlanta’s ever-marching sprawl, but quite a few Chattanoogans didn’t think the comment was funny. One caller suggested I buy Galloway a map and use a neon marker to highlight Tennessee. And tell him to keep his hands off our water while you’re at it, the caller barked.

Now that the president’s visit is in the past, I guess we can get back to bickering about other, more-familiar stuff, like the water in the Tennessee River.

Alison Gerber is editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Reach her at agerber@timesfreepress.com.

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aae1049 said...

Watch Group wishes to retitle your title, without permission, here we go:

"President’s visit brings cheers, jeers, and firing of any TFP employee that says anything negative about Obama or Prince Berke."

August 4, 2013 at 11:29 a.m.
timbo said...

Gerber... Another propaganda piece about Liberals and Obama. The majority of people in Hamilton County despise Obama. In you're sorry newspaper, and in this article, you still didn't even mention the 500 people at target protesting for the Tea party.

You people are pitiful.

August 4, 2013 at 1:10 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Sohn and Bennett are pitiful, deliberately misleading the readers.

August 4, 2013 at 3:55 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Show the Public the dated written policy that the TFP claims Johnson violated. If the policy existed and was applicable to Johnson than he would have most certainly had a copy. Oh wait, your address is Lindsay Street, definitely an X against credibility.

August 4, 2013 at 8:11 p.m.
chet123 said...

TIMBO SAID MAJORITY OF PEOPLE DESPISE THE PRESIDENT........HA HA HA!

THAT WHAT DREW JOHNSON THOUGHT!

TIMBO ITS PEOPLE LIKE YOU WHO WHIPPED-UP THE HATE IN DREW JOHNSON TO CAUSE HIM TO DO SUCH A IDIOTIC ACT.....NOW HE HAS NO JOB....WHILE YOU STAND ON THE SIDE LINE SAFE...

YOU REMIND ME OF THE LITTLE PEKINGNESE DOG BEHIND THE FENCE...JUST BARKING UP A STORM AT THE ...UNTIL THE GATE OF THE FENCE ACCIDENTLY SWING OPEN

August 5, 2013 at 5:48 p.m.
SisterSledge said...

The paper is just trying to run a business. Be nice.

August 6, 2013 at 1:23 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Show us the policy Drew Johnson violated is a reasonable request Sister.

August 6, 2013 at 4:26 p.m.
jjmez said...

The state of Tennessee is a right to work state. A tea partiers, rightwing conservative Republican favorite. Which means an employer can fire an employee at will for any reason or no reason. Isn't this what right wingers have been pushing for? Haven't they come out swinging against those dreaded Unions in the past? Those same Unions which created and built up Americas' middle-class? Without Unions, there would be no middle-class America. But when those cow-paddies are heated up and swung back at one of their own, they go into tea-party-cardiac-arrest.*

The same ones now upset over the firing of Drew Johnson were the same ones who started the campaign to force Austin to retire, Griscom to leave and another writer 'Todd' something run out of Chattanooga. Now all that doo doo comes flying back atcha, and you don't like the stench of your own sh!t.

August 6, 2013 at 7:19 p.m.
aae1049 said...

You folks apparently do not understand right to work in the proper legal context. Yes, an employer may terminate an employee at will provided the decision to terminate was not based upon Title VII violations of race, religion,....or a third party interfering with Drew Johnson's at will employment. An example would be a political or non profit group, or individuals pressuring Drew Johnson's employer to terminate him for reasons other than Johnson's performance. At will means at an employers will, not the will of others who may have unduly influenced that decision.

In short, jjemx, you don't have a clue about at will employment law.

August 7, 2013 at 12:09 a.m.
jjmez said...

And apparently, you don't understand the significance of getting both sides of a story before running off at the mouth. There was nothing "political" about Drews firing. Apparently that's why he jumped out on the media scene so quick to tell his version in order to deflect away from the truth.

August 7, 2013 at 10:36 a.m.
aae1049 said...

jjmez, Dissin Obama does not get anymore political. Your post on at will employment is just not true. Shile Tennessee is an at will state, no one can interfere with your at will employment relationship. There is a provision in TCA, regarding "interference with at will employment." So yes on at will, but really no, given certain circumstances. Drew Johnson was subject to interference with at will employment.

August 7, 2013 at 1:48 p.m.
chet123 said...

DREW JOHNSON SHOULDNT HAD THAT JOB FROM THE BEGINNING.....ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF "RED NECK AFFIRMITIVE ACTION"

August 9, 2013 at 7:27 p.m.
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