Interviewee: Lucy Morgan
Interviewer: Jean Chance
Date: February 6, 2000
C: This is February 6, 2000, and we are in Tallahassee at the home of Lucy and
Richard Morgan. Lucy has been sidelined for the last month. She has had
surgery and is recovering from a major fall. If we could start, Lucy, [by having
you] give us your full name.
M: My name is Lucy Morgan. I have, at various times in my life, traveled under other
names, but I was born Lucile Bedford Keen. Keen is my parents' name, but for all
of my years as a journalist, I have either been Lucy Ware, who was my first
husband, or Lucy Morgan, and, at time, Lucy Ware Morgan. I managed to get rid
of the middle name, so [now] I use only the two.
C: You were born in Mississippi?
M: Actually, I was born in Memphis, Tennessee. My mother happened to be there
the day I decided to make an appearance, but I grew up in Hattiesburg,
C: When did you come to Florida?
M: In the summer of 1960.
C: And what were the circumstances that brought you to Florida?
M: I married a high school football coach who took a job in Crystal River, Florida,
and we moved there. I stayed in Crystal River until early 1968. It was there that I
first began working as a reporter.
C: What was your first job in journalism?
M: Let me start by telling you how I got here. I am not sure there is anything like it. I
had three small children at home in 1965, and a woman knocked on my front
door whose name is Francis Devore. She is alive yet and, I think, still does some
work for the Ocala Star Banner. She introduced herself as the area editor for this
Ocala paper and explained that their local correspondent had been killed in a
traffic accident and wondered if I might be interested in writing for the paper. I
told her that, well, I had never done anything like that before, or even thought
about it, and asked why she would come to my door with that kind of request.
She told me that the local librarian in Crystal River had told her that I read more
books than anybody else in town, and she presumed that if I could read, I could
write. I needed money and I decided, well, I will try it; after all, it was only
part-time and should not take much time. About two months later, they put me on
their full-time staff because, at $0.20 an inch and $5 a picture I was making more
money than they wanted to pay me.
C: You and I come from an era where we understand what being a stringer can
mean. Did you literally clip out your copy, excluding the headlines, tape it up and
measure it, and send it in to get paid?
M: Yes. I glued it together, end to end, one column deep, and measured it and
charged them $0.20 an inch, and they paid me $5 for any picture that ran, $2.50
if it was a head shot, I think. That was the way I got paid, and that was my initial
contract with the Ocala paper, strictly as a stringer.
C: How long did you work as a full-time staffer for the Star Banner?
M: Almost three years. Maybe a year and a half or two years into my time on the
Ocala staff, the St. Petersburg Times approached me and asked me if I would do
some stringing for them in Levy County and areas north-I had been working
Levy and Citrus Counties for Ocala-so I agreed to do some part-time work for
them. The two papers at that time did not consider each other competitors, so I
remained a full-time staffer for Ocala and a stringer for the Times. I made more
money stringing for the Times than I made as a staffer for Ocala.
C: Do you remember some of the journalists who worked at the Ocala Star Banner
at the time you were there?
M: Other than Francis Devore who was area editor, David Cook was the editor;
Vernon Watts was managing editor; Jack Edger was their police reporter/local
character who was probably capable of doing almost anything; Van McKenzie
was their sports guy. I am sure there are other names that I just cannot
C: Any recollection of particularly memorable stories that you covered at that time?
M: My assignment, at first, was to do civic clubs, city councils, traffic accidents,
anything that happened in the Citrus County area. I remember one of the early
city council meetings that I went into. All of the other people who covered
governments back then were like I, stringers who were paid by the story, and
most of them had never had professional journalism careers. The city council in
Crystal River would look over to the three or four of us who were reporters there
at various moments in the meeting and say, now, do not write this, and these
people would very cooperatively not write this. I very quickly ran afoul the
establishment because it did not seem appropriate to me. I had no training, but it
just did not seem appropriate to let the mayor decide when we would write about
what the city was doing, so that I was very quickly in trouble with the mayor and
have probably never gotten out of trouble since. But I tended to write what was
occurring in front of me, and they took a very dim view of that in the Crystal River
City Council, although the citizens of Crystal River and most of the cops loved it.
They thought it was great sport. [In] those early city council meetings, they were
having a huge controversy over the police department and a sewer system, and I
remember a lot of those early stories that were just sheer battlegrounds. There
would be council meetings where the crowd would be out the door, some of them
leaning in the window. The city jail was in the back of the same building where
the council met, and if they had a drunk in jail, the council meetings would be
permeated by shrieks by some drunk in the drunk tank. It was a very colorful
scene to cover. Back then, you did not write a lot of color, and I am afraid the
early stories probably missed a lot of what was really there.
C: Were you using a tape recorder or pad and pencil? Did you use a telephone a
lot? Obviously, no computers at that time.
M: No, we had no computers. I used a pad and pencil to take notes. I do not recall
ever using a tape recorder in that time period. I did not take shorthand. I sort of
developed my own code of shorthand. [The notation] CHG might [mean] charge
today and change tomorrow if I failed to interpret my notes quickly. But, I would
then go home and type it up on an old portable typewriter and then read the story
over the phone to an editor who took it down in Ocala. If it was a feature with less
of a deadline, I might send it in by bus or mail, but most of the time back then, we
had to read the story. Sometimes, you had to make up the story as you went
along and read it at the same time, if you were filing at night for the next
morning's paper. The Ocala paper at that time was an afternoon paper, so what I
would usually do is go home after a hot city council meeting [and] stay up and
write the story. The editors would call me at six the next morning and I would
lean over and pick up the copy off the floor and read it from my bed, because I
have never been a morning person and it was easier for me to make sense of
what had happened by staying up late.
C: How old were your children at the time?
M: When I first went to work, they would have been six, four and three.
C: Any difficulties juggling being wife, mother, and newspaperwoman?
M: Always. Sometimes, I took them with me to news stories. They have probably
seen more fires and traffic accidents and things like that than most anybody's
children. I had a compilation of sitters, a husband who was occasionally available
to sit, and, at one time-maybe three or four years in-I had a housekeeper who
slept at the house. I divorced in 1967, and so I was a single parent trying to
juggle these two jobs and three children. I had a housekeeper and either she or
her daughter would sleep at the house in case of something happening at night. I
was responsible for fatal traffic accidents in Hernando, Citrus and Levy Counties,
and we seemed to have a lot of them back then. So, I would often be at one of
these four a.m. accidents where an entire family was wiped out on [Route] U.S.
19 on a bridge or something.
C: Were most of the journalists that you worked with and competed against male at
M: If they were staff, they were male. My competitors for Ocala were primarily the
Gainesville Sun and the Florida Times Union, and those were male staffers who
had full-time jobs. Of course, at that time, I had a full-time job at Ocala. It was
entertaining to work against them because most of the people that we covered
were men, and it amused them to see me beat the men, so that often I would get
a call from, say, a Levy County commissioner who wanted to leak a story to me.
It would not be the best story in the world. By the stories I work on today, I
probably would not even bother to write it, but at the time, it greatly aggravated
the men I worked against, that I would often beat them because of the largesse
of men who were playing with them, and me too, probably.
C: Let's get to St. Petersburg.
M: In late 1967, I agreed to go full-time with the Times. I was working for a morning
paper and an afternoon paper, and being a single mother of three children, I was
sort of burning the candle at all ends. I knew I could not keep it up. The Times
offered me enough money to compensate me for the loss of the other job and the
stringing. I was actually making very good wages for the time out of both papers,
but I knew I could not physically do that [for] long. The Times wanted to put a
staffer in Pasco County. They had not previously had one there. They asked me
if I would go to Dade City, the county seat. I had been to Dade City, and I did not
want to live there. Now, today, I would probably choose Dade City, but I said no,
and they said, well, how about if we put the bureau in New Port Richey. I said I
might consider living there. I had lived along [Route] U.S. 19, and it seemed more
hospitable. So, they put the bureau in New Port Richey, and I was the first
newsperson there. We opened that bureau in February of 1968. I was the only
news staffer. We had an advertising salesman, a circulation manager, and a
secretary. All four of us occupied the same room in a very small office there.
C: Was it on the highway?
M: Right on U.S. 19 in New Port Richey. If a wet paper got delivered, if it rained that
morning, we all answered circulation calls, until we had the appropriate papers
backed up. It was a very different way of doing journalism with a big newspaper
at that time.
C: Who were the editors at the St. Pete Times at that time whom you were working
M: Bob Haiman was the executive editor, [and] Ray Mariotti was the managing
editor. Bob Stiff was the state editor at the time who hired me. Then, at the time
I went full-time, the job in New Port Richey reported to the north Sun Coast
bureau chief, which in the beginning was Bob Henderson but shortly thereafter
became Richard Morgan, a familiar name in my current life.
C: So it was a single-reporter bureau.
M: I was reporter, photographer, and answered the phone for circulation at times.
C: And how long did you do that?
M: We added staff beginning in the fall, I think, of 1969. In June of 1968, we did
something very radical there. We created a regional weekly tabloid section to
give local news and advertising, mostly news features, and a local advertising
rate to readers in west Pasco County. The advertising people could not sell
full-run advertising to small business people who only needed to reach the west
Pasco market. This became the first of the Times regional efforts. So, we started,
in 1968, this regional paper and at first hired only a photographer, I think, to back
me up. Then, in 1969, when we took that regional to a three-day-a-week
publication, we added other reporters, and we moved the north Sun Coast
bureau to New Port Richey, splitting it off from Clearwater so that the bureau in
Clearwater supervised only Pinellas County. The New Port Richey office became
the north Sun Coast bureau and supervised everything north of there through
those suburban counties, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Levy.
C: About what was the circulation of the St. Pete Times at that point?
M: I am embarrassed to tell you I do not know.
C: Substantially less than today?
M: Yes, probably 200,000 less than it is today. At that time, we were outnumbered in
west Pasco, ten to one, by the Tampa Tribune. I think, today, the reverse is true.
It was certainly true by the time I left there. At one time, we had the Pasco Times,
which became the daily regional later, and had close to 100,000 in circulation. It
has always been a part of the St. Pete Times. From that first regional that we
created in June of 1968, we then developed the Pasco Times, Hernando Times,
and Citrus Times. Now, there are sub-versions of Pasco. I think there are three
different editions in Pasco now. Then, we created the North Pinellas Times,
Clearwater Times, Largo and Seminole Times. Ultimately, I think we now have
eleven regionals that deliver local news. The aim of them was to keep the
weeklies weekly, basically, in all of those suburban areas. But it developed
among the citizenry, that this is my newspaper, despite the fact that it was the St.
Petersburg Times, mostly because they got all of the local news, obituaries,
weddings, the local Girl Scout troop news, whatever was happening.
C: In 1968, Richard Morgan is the bureau chief, and there was a news event
between you and him.
M: Yes. He told me he wanted to marry me. I had been paying attention to raising
three children and working and not thinking about things like that, but I agreed to
give it some thought and we began to see each other. We actually married in
August of 1968.
C: You were both divorced at the time.
M: He had two children from a prior marriage. I had three children, and he went on
to raise my children. We continued to work together at the Times. The Times had
a nepotism policy at the time, but the board of directors voted to let me remain at
the paper. I had to go part-time. Back then, you could not both stay and remain
full-time people. Since Dick made more money, it was only logical that I become
the part-timer. So, for several years, I worked as a part-timer and was returned to
the full-time staff about five years after that.
C: 1968 was a notable period in which you got attention in court circles, including a
state attorney in Pinellas County, dealing with grand jury investigations.
M: Yes. In 1973, I was still working in Pasco. By then, our staff had expanded
substantially, and we had been doing some stories on corruption in city
government in Dade City. I was asked to go over and babysit the grand jury one
day. The grand jury returned a sealed presentment. I wrote about that,
speculating on the contents of that presentment, somewhat successfully,
apparently. The state attorney, on the day the story was published, dropped a
subpoena on me, demanding that I appear and give him the source of the
information in the story. I refused and was immediately sentenced to five months
in jail. On that day, we raised an objection to the state attorney's legal ability to
do what he was doing, which he apparently decided might be correct. So he
issued a second subpoena for me a few days later ordering me to appear before
the grand jury. I again refused to divulge the source, although I did give him a
nicely colored copy of the story. I colored in blue the stuff that I had observed,
you know, the state attorney walking into the grand jury room with the Dade City
Charter [and] the names of the witnesses of people who went. I painted in green
the two paragraphs that came from a confidential source, and I painted in bright
purple the information that had come from the state attorney himself. It made the
state attorney very happy, and I gave that to the grand jury. I was subsequently
sentenced to another three months. We appealed both sentences and ultimately
C: Did you actually serve any length of time?
M: No, it was really kind of disappointing. I bought all these books to read while I
was in jail. Like the complete works of Tennyson, I have yet to read them. But
they let me out on bail from the courthouse. I did not have to get locked in the
C: Richard was prepared to take care of the children?
M: Yes. At the Times, Gene Patterson was editor and made every court appearance
and immediately said, Lucy, we do not think you are going to have to go to jail,
but if it ever happens, the Times will hire a housekeeper to take care of the
children; we want you to write a daily column from the jail. So, the Times was
prepared to do whatever had to be done and certainly gave me all the legal
support that I needed.
C: Ultimately, there was a Florida Supreme Court vindication of that act that you
took to protect a confidential source.
M: Yes. Up until that time, there was no court protection in Florida. The reigning
case was an old Miami case where the person subpoenaed had been forced to
testify. In July 1976, the court came with a ruling written by Justice [Joseph]
Hatchett, which said that only under certain compelling circumstances could a
state attorney compel a newspaper reporter to testify. What he did was follow
very closely the three-part test that was set out in Brandsburg originally, that
there had to be a compelling state interest, they had to prove that they had
looked elsewhere for the information, and they had to prove that I might be the
only source of that information to subpoena them. They had done, of course,
none of that having subpoenaed me on the day of publication. So, that became
and remains the law today. It has been through a few curves since then, but was
now reiterated just as recently as last year in a decision. That is still the law in
C: Between 1968 and 1975, how did you find time to go to Hernando Community
College and graduate with honors?
M: I took one or two courses a semester, almost all at night. In fact, my curriculum
was determined by what was offered on the days and hours I could take it. I had
always felt I needed a college degree, and that was the only way I could get it. I
could not afford to just take off from work and go to school, so I did it that way.
Then, I kept on taking classes at USF [University of South Florida] for another
couple of years.
C: And what did you study?
M: I took the basic courses for an A.A., history, English. I even survived a math
course. Whatever the courses were to get the junior college degree. I first
declared a major in political science at USF and then changed it to history after
encountering my first political science course and a professor that could not
speak English. So I majored in history and took a lot of various kinds of history
courses at USF. I probably lack about a year, if I were to go back, depending on
how they have changed the standards for a degree, but I figured in my old age,
maybe, I will go back and get a degree.
C: None of this was about journalism? In high school, did you have journalism
M: No. I am told by my relatives that I worked on the high school newspaper staff,
and I have a vague recollection of it, but I do not have any specific recollection of
anything I did. I signed up for a journalism course. I tried to take one, and the
dean of the campus decided that my experience as a reporter exceeded that of
the instructor and booted me out of the class. This was at Pasco-Hernando
Community College. He decided that I should not be in that class. When I got to
USF, I talked to the journalism people there about taking some, and they told me
they would have to exempt me out of everything except underwater photography
or something. I said, well, there is no point in that. So, I just decided to take a
history major. Now I am afraid to take a journalism course. I might flunk it.
C: In 1982, you investigated drug smuggling in Dixie and Taylor Counties. How did
that come about?
M: At the end of 1979, my husband wanted to leave the job as bureau chief on the
north Sun Coast and to take a job as editor of editorials. My youngest was almost
turning eighteen, and I thought it might be a good time for me to quit working for
the Pasco section and do something else. I sent a note to Andy
Barnes, who was then ME [managing editor], saying that, if they ever would like
to create a roam-around-the-state-and-cause-trouble job, that I would be
interested in doing it. I had envisioned this as something in the distant
future and he called me and said, can you meet me in Clearwater for lunch
tomorrow, and decided on the spot to create the job. I started it by spending
about a year looking, at about the same time Richard Kelly, the congressman
from Florida, fell into Abscam [a national scandal stemming from FBI
investigations into Congressional corruption], and he was conducting his own
investigation. I had covered him when he was a circuit judge, so I had a good
road into both him and his attorney, Tony Battaglia. I began that year by
spending almost all my time on Abscam and covered the trial in Washington at
the end of that year, and the election that swirled around it. I had been fascinated
by some of the old Florida drug cases. We had a drug smuggler from Tarpon
Springs named Raymond Grady Stansel, who had disappeared on the eve of trial
and declared himself dead. [There were] a few stories like that which I got into,
and I started looking at the statewide grand jury, which had been an early tool
used against drug smugglers, to no avail. Every time I would go ask prosecutors
or cops or drug people questions about drug prosecutions, inevitably someone
would say, you know, you should go and look at Dixie and Taylor Counties; the
drug smugglers own the counties. I sort of tossed it aside the first few times that I
heard it, but I was in Tallahassee interviewing the head of the Florida Department
of Law Enforcement, who at the time was Jim York. He gave me a great quote
that day. He told me they were never going to stop drug smuggling in Florida until
they could drive a stake through the heart of Bubba Capo, a drug smuggler in
Dixie County of some renown. I went back to the office and called the editor I
reported to, who at the time was Rob Hooker, and I said, I really ought to go look
at Dixie and Taylor [Counties]. The state attorney for that area told me that a
majority of the county commissioners from Dixie County had gone to a drug trial
and testified for the smugglers. I knew there must be a record of this. The
potential for a story, I could see there. I really thought I was going to go there,
write a few stories, walk out the door and not spend a whole lot of time on this,
but before it was over, I had spent several years. A chief deputy in Dixie County
had come to me, offering to rat out all of his fellow deputies and wear a wire if I
could turn him over to an honest cop; he did not know any. I gave him to the U.S.
attorney's people from northern Florida. Before I was able to finish there, a whole
bunch of deputies, a school board member, a county commission chairman and
250 other souls went to jail, because the Feds took an interest in my stories and
pursued the smuggling. It was a rather interesting chapter, where the smugglers
had pretty well co-opted the local officials.
C: Why do you think they felt so safe to be so openly corrupt?
M: Part of it, I think, is the lack of journalism. One of the stories I did during that era
was, I subscribed to the local weekly papers. There were three at the time, the
Dixie County Advocate, which at one time was owned by the sheriff in Dixie
County, and the Taco Times, which was owned by a renegade guy named Ken
Smith. The other one was another Perry paper; I think it might have been the
Perry News or something. Of the three papers, only the Taco Times reported
drug arrests as being real. The Dixie County Advocate would often not report
them at all, or report them if some out-of-towner was arrested. They did have to
report when the Cadillac owned by the Dixie County school board chairman was
found parked next to 30,000 pounds of marijuana in neighboring Taylor County.
However, they ran a correction the following week saying that Cadillac did not
belong to Gene Van Arnam, the school board chairman. What they did not tell
you in the correction was that it belonged to his wife. I interviewed the editors of
these papers. The guy at the Advocate told me that when he first came to Dixie
County, he wrote an editorial about the illegal [hunting] of doe deer, denouncing
it, thinking that he was on the side of motherhood in an area like that, only to
wake up the next morning and find a dead doe's head on his doorstep. He
subsequently wrote an editorial about illegal dumping of garbage, only to wake
up the next morning and find his lawn strewn with garbage that had been
dumped there. He said those were his only two efforts to get into journalism that
was at all controversial. I think the lack of a daily newspaper in that area simply
allowed those officials to run roughshod in any direction they wanted to. In fact,
the county commissioners who went to testify in Wakulla County on behalf of
Bubba Capo, a convicted drug smuggler of some renown, urged the judge not to
send him to jail, saying it would be an economic loss to the county if Bubba was
sent to jail. They apparently did not realize that the court reporter sitting in the
front of the room was recording all these words. When I went up and read and
bought the transcripts and went to interview them about it, they denied ever
having said these things and kept telling their friends that none of this was true,
only to have it hit them broadside when I wrote the stories. One of the most
fascinating things about Dixie [was] we did not sell a paper in Dixie County or
Taylor [County]. We had no circulation. We had a truck that went through there
every day on its way to Tallahassee. Often, the sheriff would stop our truck and
demand a copy of the paper to see what was in it. We began to leave a couple of
bundles with a local guy who wanted it and took the risk of distributing it. He
would only give a copy of the paper to somebody who had a Xerox machine.
These stories started running in about February, I think, of 1982. I was there
when they picked a jury in a drug-smuggling case in August of that year, and
every single member of the venire had read the Times series, and none of them
had ever seen an original paper, or would own up to it if they had. We were just
giving copies away enough to distribute it there.
C: Were the other newspapers in the area, say, Gainesville, Ocala, the Tallahassee
Democrat, would they pick up, or would there be just wire stories?
M: They did not pick up any of the original stories. The wires, I think, picked up
some of them, and they may have run some of them. They would pick them up
once the arrests started to occur. They would pick up the arrests, but none of
them were doing any original journalism on it over there. They were merely
spitting up police reports.
C: That coverage was nominated for the Pulitzer in 1982. I am interested in how
you utilize public records in the kind of reporting you do. Would you be offended
to have your type of reporting defined as investigative reporting?
M: No, not really. I have at times in my life taken offense at that word. I suppose I
take less offense, having won a Pulitzer in a category called Investigative
Reporting. I think a lot of what many of us do is investigating. If you are going
beyond simply walking out of a public meeting and writing what occurred in it,
there is some level of investigative reporting. I think a lot of reporters see that title
as rather pretentious. I knew a reporter here in Tallahassee a few years ago who
could not understand his lack of success, and all of us could have told him that
anybody that walks in and introduces himself to public officials as, hi, I am an
investigative reporter, would not fly. So, yes, I would not label myself that if
someone were to ask me what I was, but, clearly, a lot of the work I have done
over the years that has been well-received has been investigative in nature
because I have gone beyond taking what was given to me on the surface. I have
gone into every conceivable record. If I am going to take a project, I will isolate
the principal names that I know in the beginning I am dealing with, and that is
essentially where I start. I strip the public record of every record that is there.
Nowadays, it is almost too easy to start, with the electronic systems that are
there. You give someone the results of, say, an AutoTrack, and you have there
your Social Security number, date of birth, the property they own, the vehicles
they own, the accidents they had, their driving records, their criminal records, all
kinds of different records just handed to you in the space of a few seconds.
However, experience tells me [not] to trust those as being all that is there, or as
even being correct all the time. But, I would strip the records that are available
[and] go to wherever those people have lived in their lifetime, if I am seriously
looking. Now, there would be a different level depending on how deep I was
looking. [I would] just pull the addresses they have lived at in their lifetimes.
Before there was AutoTrack and where you cannot find it on AutoTrack, you can
go to city directories and things like that. [I would] then pull all the deeds [and]
records. Contrary to what I would have done in the beginning of my career, now,
I would say always pull a copy, even when it costs you money to pay for it.
C: The purpose for that has to do with litigation?
M: Well, it is two-fold. First of all, you bulletproof yourself from an attack. You have
the record in front of you. Secondly, if you look at a deed that was recorded
twenty years ago, and you see that the subject of your story bought a piece of
land somewhere and paid X amount of money for it, that might be the focus of
what you are looking at, at that moment, but down the road, it may be that one of
the people who witnessed that deed is a figure in the rest of what you are doing,
and you are looking to establish a relationship between that person and another
person. The witnesses at a wedding, if you pull the application for a wedding, you
will find the names of people who had to sign up as witnesses. Those are, in
most instances, not strangers, and if you are looking to prove a long-time
relationship between people, you may find that kind of record. If you have a copy
of it, you can go back and review what you have. Also, in the moment that you
get sued, you are not scrambling around trying to prove what you have already
written; you have the documents there. I am a big advocate of keeping very good
files. I can go now back to files of virtually any project I did, including that Dixie
County drug project in the 1980s, and pull the files. I have them boxed now. I do
not have enough file cabinets to do that. I keep them at my office. I will
ultimately move them home because most of those files would mean very little to
somebody else. I can go back and pull them and confirm or find a fact from many
years ago. I recently had a call from the Tampa bureau asking me if I
remembered a drug smuggler named Forrest Sink, and I said, hold on, let me get
my file on him. It was from the mid-1970s. He was arrested for drug smuggling,
but he was the son of a prominent Tampa family. I kept a fairly extensive file on
him, and the contents of that file recently aided a reporter in the late 1990s who
needed information on him.
C: How important is meshing public records with human sources?
M: I think it is important to also talk to the people. If what you have is a public record
trail, you have a pretty dry account. People can add information and context to
that record. For instance, in the Dixie County series, a lot of those smugglers
were people who had never made more than $13,000, or $14,000 in their lives,
but they were paying cash, $20,000, $30,000 for vehicles and things. I went to
interview the car dealer in Dixie County who had sold them all these vehicles,
and he put that in a lot of context in talking about them. [About] Bubba Capo, the
notorious smuggler, [the car dealer] said, you know, Lucy, you need to get to
know the whole Bubba. He taught me one of the best lessons I have ever been
taught. He said, you know Bubba, the drug smuggler, who makes a lot of money
and pays cash for cars, but you do not know the guy who buys a boat for his
neighbor when his boat sinks, pays for surgery for a neighbor's child when the
child is ill, or builds a church with the money he has made from it, and unless you
know all of those things about him, you do not know the whole Bubba. From that
moment on, I have realized how important it is for us to know the whole Bubba, in
anything that we are looking at. Now, a lot of defense attorneys try to keep us
from knowing the whole Bubba. When you are dealing with a person who is
charged for a crime, the first thing his lawyer does is build a wall, saying, no, he
is not to talk to you; we do not want you to know anything about him. I would
argue, and frequently do argue with defense attorneys, wait a minute, the cops
are going to tell me every bad thing they know about your client; the people who
are pursuing him for doing them wrong are going to tell me every bad thing; if he
does not tell me that which is good, I do not know the whole Bubba here. That
works a lot of the time.
C: Back to 1982, that investigation is fairly well completed, and a lot of attention to
the Times coverage merited a lot of national review at the time it was nominated
for the Pulitzer. The next three intervening years, you are working in another
county with reporter Jack Reed on Pasco County corruption charges.
M: In the beginning, I was working on it myself. All during the Dixie-Taylor [stories], I
lived in Pasco County. My husband worked for that edition of the Times, actually
was editor of editorials for all those regionals. And I kept running into people at
home who would say, quit going out of town--you need to be looking at the local
sheriff. And I had covered that department years before, I knew it fairly well. [In]
February, early March, of 1983, I accepted a speaking engagement at the local
police academy, which trained sheriffs, deputies, local police, and anybody
around there, and it was run through the junior college, to talk about press
relationships. I just had assumed in accepting it that this would be raw recruits
getting their initial police training and did not think much about it, but when I got
to the class, it was about fifty veteran police officers. It was a refresher course of
people who were already in jobs. Our paper, in just that week, committed a rather
egregious sin in their eyes, and actually in mine, too. One of our reporters had
quoted an anonymous spectator at the scene of a police shooting, saying that the
police murdered this guy, which was against our policy and certainly not
conducive to good relations between reporters and police. So this whole
audience was ready to fry any reporter they could catch in their grasp. I spent the
night defending--although I did not defend that conduct, I told them I agreed that
it was wrong--but discussing police relationships, in an atmosphere that was first
very hostile. By the time we got to the end, I think most of the guys in the
audience were at least cordial to me on the surface. The next morning at about
seven o'clock, I got a call from one of the men who had been in that audience. I
had known him for years and knew him to be very close to the sheriff in Pasco
County, and I would have considered him to be totally the sheriff's person, but he
called and said, I would like to talk to you; I have come to the conclusion that the
sheriff here is quite corrupt, and somebody needs to do something about it. I
said, well, I am not sure I am your person. We have a bureau filled with
reporters whose job it is to cover this department. He said, well, I am not going to
talk to them. I said, why would you not, if I could find one who is good? He said, I
do not know [if] the reporters in your office today [will be] doing public relations
tomorrow. He said, I see this happen all the time, but I have a pretty good feeling
that you are not going to wind up working for any sheriff, any time, and that you
would be the only one I would really trust, because to do this, I am trusting my
job, if not my life. So, I agreed to talk to him that day, and he and his wife came
to the house that day, put their car in our garage so nobody could see it, and they
spent the entire day telling me, with some documentation, of the broad outlines of
what they thought was going on there.
C: Did she also work for the sheriff?
M: No, she just came along with him. In fact, she became an important part. She
became a conduit. As things developed and got hot, she and I would often both
go shopping at Belk's at the mall, and when we went to try on clothes, she would
pass under the booths in the fitting rooms, in the ladies' room, the documents
that he would need to get to me, or I would hand back stuff to him, because most
of the people that the sheriff assigned to follow me were male. We just found that
was a good way to circumvent them.
C: Was that your idea?
M: Yes. It sort of came to pass because she was supposed to meet me at the mall
to give me some documents he was sending, and we realized I was being
followed when we got there. So, I just got out of my car and went into Belk's, and
she came in behind me. We saw the guy come in following us. I do not know
whether he knew who she was or not, but we did not speak to each other. I
picked up the first item of clothing I came to and went into the fitting room, and
she followed. I do not think they ever caught on to what we were doing because
we never acknowledged each other's presence, but we did it a number of times
over the years that passed. We had all kinds of ways of trading documents.
Sometimes he would drop them in my mailbox at night and put the flag up to let
me know he had been by, so that when we went out to get the paper in the
morning and saw that the flag was up, we would know there were new
documents in the mailbox. There was one hilarious incident where he was trying
to deliver an entire box of documents that he had come upon to me. I had parked
my car and left it unlocked in a K-Mart parking lot and had gone in the store. I
was tooling around the store and, usually, whoever was following me would
follow me into wherever I went. So, the guys who were following me had come
into the store. I looked out the window of the K-Mart and saw that as he was
transferring this box of documents from his car to mine, he dropped the whole
damn box and was scampering around in the parking lot getting them picked up.
So, we had some near hilarious misses. Anyhow, in this first day of talking to him
all day, I realized there was a whole lot of material for a potential series of stories
on the department, but I worked for our special projects division at the time in St.
Pete. Generally, the stories I was covering were stories where we did not have
reporters regularly assigned. Most of the time, we would have used that
manpower, and I would take the far-flung stories that involved counties outside of
the Tampa Bay area. So, I went to St. Pete with a memo of the stories I thought
were there to chase and told them that I had pitched and would pitch again an
attempt to get him to cooperate with some local reporters but that I thought
somebody ought to take a look at the department. I warned everybody from the
beginning that we were dealing with a sheriff who absolutely hated me and the
minute he were to see me on his tail, he would assume the worst and be the
worst. So they decided that I should follow the story, primarily because of the
source that was there. This was March of 1983, and I thought any story that was
done should be finished and in the paper before the end of 1983, because 1984
was an election year and I did not want whatever we did to be perceived as an
election attack. I still think that is a very important part. It is a real problem for
journalists. You get the most negative information on a public official during an
election campaign, [but] it is absolutely the worst time to unveil it because the
politician can say, oh, those are just my political enemies after me, so that [the
story] gets, in a sense, the least credibility at that time. So that was one of my
recommendations. I started that way. About this same time, the captain of that
department was indicted with Santos Trafficante [Mafia mob boss from Tampa],
and one of his allegations was that a lot of the members of that department had
organized-crime ties and that the department had done inadequate backgrounds
on them. I went over with this original source the entire 300 or so men who
worked for the department in a roster of them which he had provided and
identified the ones he thought had a problem of some kind. I subsequently did
this with a lot of people, and I found this to be a very helpful process, just to take
the list of the entire department and sit down with people who knew the
department well or who had once worked there, and say, tell me what you know
about this guy [or] that guy. I developed a lot of my working-plan to look at from
doing that. I think it saved a lot of time and made it less random than it might
have been. I may have missed somebody in it, but what I found was remarkable.
I decided that I would have to do background, certainly on these that [were
suspicious]. I began working in Tallahassee at police standards. At the time,
they had to file with the state a copy of the officer's birth certificate, training
records, employment history, a number of various pieces of information that
included any prior arrest record and their fingerprints, and they ran them. I was
able to get a basic look at each sworn officer by doing that. Now, I do it on
computers, but at the time, I created an index card for each officer, which gave
me his basic information, where he was born, educated, his date of birth, Social
Security number, and his work and training experience, so that if at any time he
came up in something, I could quickly pull that card and see who that was and
what he had done before. I had one for every sworn officer at the department.
Although I did not look in more depth at every one of them, I did look that far.
Then I took the ones who were either in leadership positions, had rank, or had
been in some sort of trouble or who had been identified to me as potential trouble
sources and did a more thorough background on them. What I found by doing
that was that one in every eight officers had a criminal arrest record. More than
half of them had lied about that arrest record to get certified as cops. That did not
include things like DUIs [driving under the influence arrests]. I took only criminal
arrest records, non-traffic and non-DUI. And [nothing] juvenile. One of them, in
particular, had been arrested by some of the officers he was now working side by
side with, for theft-related [reasons], like stealing stuff that he was caught in
possession of. One of them had been a Hernando County deputy, had his
driver's license suspended. At the time he went to work in Pasco, his driver's
license was suspended, he had an arrest record for theft, and he was given a
badge and gun and a green light to drive in Pasco County. My favorite of the
deputies was a guy who had been the wheel man in several armed robberies in
Tampa, and the Tampa cops had given him immunity from prosecution because
he ratted out his co-workers in several armed robberies. When he was caught,
he tried to kill himself, missed, and shot out a hole in the side of his trailer. So he
was a guy who ratted out his co-defendants, was an armed robber to start with,
or the wheel man for them, and a bad shot. He could not even kill himself when
he tried. He was wearing a badge and gun in Pasco County. One of them had an
outstanding grand theft arrest warrant for stealing the police dog when he left a
similar job in the Keys. He had stolen the dog. I mean, most of them were funny if
you were not thinking of the liability that the department was creating for itself
there. One of them had been a sheriff's deputy in the Keys who had been drunk
and high on cocaine and had a minor traffic accident and pulled a gun on an
elderly couple who were involved in the accident. The couple fled into a Holiday
Inn. A trooper arrived on the scene and had a dramatic description of this deputy
holding a gun out at the crowd. The trooper called on him to drop the gun, and he
turned toward the trooper aiming this .38. The trooper, just at the moment he was
about to fire, thinking that he was going to have to kill this guy, recognized him as
a local sheriff's deputy and managed to get him to drop the gun, rather than
simply shooting him. But they let him resign and go on his way, and Pasco
picked him up without ever determining that about his background, although it
was clearly in the public records of Monroe County. I went down there just to see
his personnel file, and his employment ended rather abruptly after a traffic
accident with no real descriptions, except that there had been a referral to the
state attorney that was not prosecuted. I went to the state attorney's office and
asked for his file and, in it, got the description the trooper had given in testimony
there. It made a dramatic story.
C: That drama is sort of a Lucy Morgan trademark that pops up in your stories.
M: Yes. I did these backgrounds on individual officers from about March to June
[and was] also meeting almost daily with the source, or at least talking to him. I
realized by June that I was not going to be able to do this and finish it by the end
of the year because we had such an embarrassment of riches and tips and
things that were unfolding. There was so much that needed to be written. I asked
if they wanted to assign another reporter to help with some of the stuff that
needed to be done, and they then assigned Reed to help for a few months.
C: At that time, was Jack Reed a cityside reporter?
M: He was a Pasco reporter covering the county commission in Pasco. So what I did
was assign him the financial side of it. You can get an idea when you are looking
at public officials; this was a sheriff who had been a city police chief, [and] he had
been in the public arena most of his adult life; he had come into office with a net
worth of, say, $70,000 [and] within a few years, earning nothing more than the
salary we knew about, he had become worth $300,000 or $400,000, net worth,
and acquired a lot of property. He had not inherited any; his family was very poor.
He had been through three divorces, I think. So, just looking at his financial
disclosures, you knew there was something going on in this, other than him being
a law enforcement officer. I assigned Jack to sort of looking at the financial side.
We found, as a matter of fact, that he would put the departmental money in a
bank; often on the same day, he would get loans of $400,000 or $500,000 from
this bank to invest in private property schemes. He got himself extensively
involved in the ownership of a small shopping mall, of a funeral home, of a lot of
property. He was way overextended and making a bunch of money on the side.
Some of the people who worked with him, like his partner in the funeral home,
was the guy who he assigned to be his administrative chief in the office, who was
supposedly doing backgrounds and did such a poor job with backgrounds. So,
there was a blending of his business and professional [lives]. We also found one
of the original tips from the deputy that came to us had involved a millionaire
deputy. This was a part-time deputy who bought his own patrol car and his own
gun and his uniform and put himself on the road and directed a lot of
investigations, some of them against his enemies. This was (let's call him) an
eccentric millionaire, who was almost running the department, or at least running
the things he wanted to run, and the sheriff was letting him. He gave the sheriff a
house and a lot of other things. All of these things we were finding, it was such
an embarrassment of riches that we knew it was going to involve...I had to go to
Vegas and to Illinois and to several other places to get records. One of the things
we had to confirm [was], we were trying to determine if this millionaire was a
legitimate millionaire with money honestly earned or if this was dishonest money.
This millionaire had a home in Las Vegas and a lot of unsavory friends that made
us wonder if he was not organized-crime himself. He had come from Quincy,
Illinois, out of a family called Morman that owned an animal-and-feed operation
there of some renown. It was a privately-owned company. We knew how much
stock he owned in it because he bragged about it a lot, but we did not know the
value of the stock. I had to go to Quincy, Illinois. I spent a lot of time in the
basement of that courthouse there. What I did was take the wills of a whole
bunch of different family members who died over, about, a forty-year period and
established the value of the stock from the time he inherited it in the 1940s, when
his father died, to the most current I could find at the time, which was in the
late-1970s, I think. It was a great use of public records, because what I did was
take the quarterly probate reports filed by lawyers into the estates of his elderly
aunts and uncles who owned shares, and I was able to come up with how the
value of that stock moved up across the years and what he would have gotten off
of that stock, in income, over the years. A tremendous amount of public records
went into that, and I did that deliberately. [This was] the standard I set in the very
beginning, and I told [the] editors. This is not the most ideal situation; ideally, the
reporter working on an investigative project like this should have no discord
between him and the subject of the investigation. You cannot have that most of
the time. In my case, I was the one who knew the most about this guy, had the
most access to people, and I knew he hated me because I had caught him with
his pants down before. But I also knew, because of that dislike for me, that
everything we wrote better damn well be exactly right and documented.
C: And he did sue.
M: Oh yes, but I required from the very beginning that nothing go into print that did
not have a paper document to support it or a taped interview, that there would be
no unnamed sources [and] there would be nothing we could not simply prove in a
court of law. I had covered the courts for years, so that became my standard, that
it had to be something that would pass muster as evidence, and we did that.
Nothing in that series, which began running in December of 1983 and wound up
in April of 1984, was un-sourced. I mean, you could use it as a textbook case. He
did ultimately sue us. We itemized and numbered to inventory 14,000 and some
documents, when it got down to the lawyers. I would not ordinarily count the
documents I use on a project, but on this one, the lawyers had to index every
document, and they had over 14,000 indexed by the time we went to trial on that.
We won a jury trial. [It is] very rare to win a jury trial in a libel case, but the jury
came back and said, each and every fact challenged was absolutely true. It cost
us a fortune to defend it, but we won it in the end. I suspect that is a deterrent to
a lot of other people who might file libel suits.
C: There were two separate suits, were there not?
M: He and the millionaire deputy sued, and I think they sued jointly. I cannot
remember whether we countersued. We would not have pursued it had we done
it. We won the legal fees back out of it, and we always give legal fees to charity
when we win. It was a great victory. It probably should never have gone to trial
because he was a public figure and he had no initial showing of error, but we
were dealing with a retired judge who was being paid by the day to sit on the
case. So, you know, he leads us into a six-week trial, taking Fridays off. It was
just, for him, a leisurely pace. For us, it was maddening, because I was already
working in Tallahassee at the time, and we had to simply move to Tampa
Monday to Friday and do it there. I had already, in the Dixie and Taylor
[Counties] stuff, begun...I had always used public records, in part because it is
the easiest way to protect the source; if you get a public record, you do not have
to have a source that is identifiable. So, in most of my career, I have used
sources to point me to public records and assembled them. The Pasco case is
probably the most records I have ever assembled up until that point in my career
on a single case, but I always keep an enormous number of records and I keep
my notes. That in itself is controversial among reporters. You will have lawyers
who will advise you to throw them away. I think that if you are accurate and good
at what you are doing, your notes are the best defense you will have. I have to
tell you, one of the great moments in this trial involved my notes. I had at various
times been cross-examined and examined on the contents of notes that I took. At
one moment in the trial, Benny Lazzara, the Tampa lawyer who was representing
Short and Mormon, asked me, right after you published all of this, didn't people
tell you that these facts were not true. I said, no, to the contrary, everybody told
me they were true, including you, Mr. Lazzara. He, stunned, stopped and said,
what do you mean? I said, Mr. Lazzara, you called me after these stories were
published and told me that you had been approached by Mr. Mormon to sue the
Times and that you, in reviewing the stories, could not find any factual errors in
them and wanted to know the source of one particular piece of information in the
stories, because you were trying to convince your client that he could not prove a
lawsuit against us. He said, very sarcastically, well, I do not suppose you have a
note on that, do you? And I said, as matter of fact, I do, Mr. Lazzara. Now, in
asking for the discovery, he had asked for everything that preceded the writing of
the stories, not notes that came afterwards, and it had never come up in their
depositions of me. So, I said, as a matter of fact, I do. I asked the lawyers to
hand me a particular file that was in the files we had around our desk, and I was
able to read him a note taken in March of 1984, and dated, of my conversation
with him. It was one of these great Perry Mason moments that you rarely really
get in a trial.
C: How long did it take him to sit down?
M: Not long. It was really a hilarious moment. So, my notetaking has become, sort
of, a household joke around the Times. I do take more notes than I need, and I
rarely throw away anything. This means at some point, I am going to be
overcome by the documents. I really do need to go back and throw away things,
like Abscam. It may take me about two years to prepare to retire, just to go
through the stuff I have on hand in office.
C: What was it like to learn that your work has won the Pulitzer Prize, in 1985?
M: It is interesting. I had never even thought about a Pulitzer. I had never thought
about contests. I had never entered one myself. I did not know that the Dixie
County stuff was heading in that direction. I remember when he was editing the
Dixie County stuff, Rob Hooker had jokingly said, Lucy, this stuff is either going to
win you a Pulitzer or get you killed. I did not know until the day the Pulitzers were
announced that we were the runner-up for it.
C: So the editors did not tell you.
M: No. [Eugene] Patterson knew it, but he did not tell me. He called me that day.
He was our CEO at the time. I was really sort of stunned. Charlie Stafford, one of
our reporters who had won a Pulitzer in 1980, had called me and said, Lucy, take
heart, sometimes getting to be runner-up brings you to their attention. But, really,
that was way out of my mind. I did know we had entered the Pasco stuff, and I
knew it was a finalist, but on the day they announced the Pulitzers, I did not hear
from Patterson. So, I had assumed we probably did not win. I had been through
so much torment in that project. Not only were the stories good and it was fun to
report, it was a tremendous strain to report on a sheriff in a county in which you
lived. He waged a vehement attack against me, us, the Times. He had bumper
stickers out that said, Screw Lucy Morgan, and, I Do Not Believe the St.
Petersburg Times. I mean, he waged a lot of personal attacks. His friends
threatened and were very aggressive toward my daughter-in-law and her baby
who lived there at the time, threatening her, terrified her several times. On
occasion, they would give me a description of what my grandchild had worn to
daycare. There were just all kinds of threats that came in that project.
C: They would call you anonymously?
M: Oh yes, my phones were tapped. The telephone company found where there had
been taps on the phone. There were just enormous pressures of that project.
Anyway, the day after the Pulitzers were announced, I came into work and Dick
said, a source wants you to meet for lunch and asked me if I would come with
you, called this morning, has something to talk about the sheriff's thing. Well, I
was sort of out of the sheriff's thing by then, and I thought, I really do not want
another source on this sheriff's department; I am tired of this story; go away. But,
I went to lunch, and when we got to Pappas, Gene Patterson and Andy Barnes,
our then executive editor, were waiting with champagne to tell me. Then we had
to keep it a secret for two or three weeks before it was announced. It was a great
way to go about telling me and a great secret to have to keep for a couple of
weeks. I was amazed, the avalanche of people you hear from at moments like
that, including my high school English teacher whom I had not seen for years.
This dear woman is now in her nineties and is blind. Her name is Evelyn
Steadman, and she called to congratulate me for something I got noticed for in
the last few years-I cannot even remember what it was-and I wrote a column
about her. The funniest thing, when I was in Mississippi visiting my aunt a couple
of years ago, the local paper sent somebody down to interview me and did a
story on me, and I credited her with being a large part of my ability to read and
write. She was, but I described her as a terrorist, saying that this was a woman
who would, on Fridays, tell you to read David Copperfield and bring in a written
report on it on Mondays, a sure way to wreck your weekend. As things will
happen, the word "terrorist" wound up in the headline of the feature on me that
they ran, so my aunt spent the next few months explaining to Ms. Steadman that
I meant "terrorist" in the nicest sense of the word. I recently, maybe within the last
year, wrote a column about her, and I mailed her a copy of it and had just a
lovely note back from her. She was just an amazing teacher, in the things she
demanded out of people. But that was the kind of people I heard from when I
won the Pulitzer. The Times gave me an immediate pay raise, I think of $100 a
week. The editor I worked for spent the rest of the week beating the weekender I
had promised him out of me, because there are so many distractions. You learn
quickly that it is the next story that is important, not the one you just finished.
C: After that, what were you working on, and where are you doing day-to-day jobs?
M: That would have been 1985. Most of that year, I spent doing some of the trials
that fell out of the Short thing and sort of cleaning up on other stories. By then,
some of the Dixie County stuff had come to trial, and I had a few of those trials to
pick up and cover and finish up. At the end of that year, of 1985, in early
December, I was in St. Petersburg for something, and Gene Patterson wanted
me to go to lunch with him. We had been at the lunch table five minutes when
Andy Barnes appeared and sat on the other side of me. I have always said this
was a set-up; they have said, oh, it was a mere accident. I do not believe them.
But, in the course of conversation, Barnes asked me what I thought we ought to
do about the Tallahassee bureau, which had the vacancy of bureau chief at the
time. I said, you should give it to Laurie Holman, the woman who worked here, a
young reporter who had only been here a year or so but who was very good. I
thought they should give those jobs to women when they could. Patterson said,
Lucy, why don't you take that job? I said, I cannot move to Tallahassee, and he
said, I remember that about ten years ago on an annual evaluation, you said you
would like to go to Tallahassee. I said, Gene, I do not believe that, but the two of
them did a number on me. When we finished lunch, I said, no, I cannot do it; I
have my elderly mother living with us, and I do not see how I can transpose all of
this to Tallahassee. I ended up walking away saying, no, no, no, I do not want to
do it. Well, I called Dick, who was still working for the Times in Pasco. He said,
wait a minute, I am thinking about retiring next year; maybe you should go back
in there and say, maybe--let's talk about it and see what we might want to do.
Well, that was the beginning of the downfall. I walked back into Barnes' office
and said, okay, my spouse says I should say maybe until I have time to think
about this overnight. So, I go back a day or two later really intending to tell him
no, because I was looking at it from the financial end of it more than anything. He
said, let me tell you this before you open your mouth to tell me whatever it is you
were going to tell me. He said, we will pay for an apartment for you to keep a
residence there and one here and for your transportation back and forth, and you
do not have to be in Tallahassee five days a week; you can be there as many
days as you think you need to be; we would like you to take that job and,
ultimately, move permanently to Tallahassee to do it, but we are willing to pay for
whatever length of time you wish to be in transition. So, when I talked to Dick, I
decided to go ahead and do it. I had resisted any kind of management job up
until then, on a lot of grounds. I liked being out among people. I did not want to
be locked up in a cage where I was responsible for everyone else's mistakes and
got to do nothing on my own. So I had said no to everybody for years who had
tried to put me in one of those jobs. Patterson's logic here was that I could still
write and report and help teach younger reporters as they came through under
me, and he also wanted me to continue to do some investigative projects. The
Tallahassee bureau at the time was a two-person bureau. One of my first
objections was that it was impossible in a two-person bureau for one of them to
be off doing investigative projects, that it would be unfair to the other reporter,
placing an unnecessary burden on them, and he immediately said, okay, we will
add a reporter. And they did, so I came in with an advantage. I came up in
January of 1986 to take over the bureau with two other reporters, David Dahl and
Laurie Holman. David was a cop reporter in St. Pete whom I picked to be the
third person up here.
C: So, it was your call who would come in?
M: Yes, it was my call. Actually, it has always been that way. The Times has been
very good to let me pick who comes. I do not know that they have ever vetoed
one. I was close last year on them vetoing one I wanted because they did not like
his credentials, but I thought he had the right stuff and, as it turns out, he has
done beautifully. I would have made sure; if I had to write his damn stuff myself,
he would have succeeded. So I went from looking at drug smugglers and public
corruption and organized-crime into state government and politics. Somehow, it
seems like a natural transition. The drug smugglers were more candid than the
state officials to deal with. But it has been an easy transition, and it has been a
lot of fun, because I have been able to take the investigative techniques that I
developed along the way and apply them to state government. It is amazing how
much you find when you do not take what comes to you at face value.
C: When you first got to Tallahassee, was this when [Robert] "Bob" Graham [Florida
governor, 1979-1987] was completing his governorship?
M: Yes, Bob Graham was in his last year as governor, and [Bob] Martinez [Florida
governor, 1987-1991] was running.
C: What are your observations about the various governors and administrations that
you have covered?
M: It has been interested. Graham was by then very comfortable as governor. He
was very open. Of all the governors that have come along, he was the most
accessible, of those we have had since then. We had free run of even his office,
except for his own office. We could go down and talk to the top of his staff
without having to go through a gatekeeper. In fact, we were invited to the
mansion more than we wanted to go. We always paid. We still do that; when we
are invited to the mansion, we go and eat or drink whatever is going on there and
make a donation to the mansion fund equivalent to it to pay for it.
C: And that is a Times policy--not necessarily everybody's.
M: No. Our policy at the Times is, we take nothing from nobody, and, believe it or
not, that is sometimes hard to do. I adhere to the policy. Sometimes, I simply am
in the position of handing cash to a lobbyist who has picked up the tab. I do not
have a clue what he is doing with it, but I know that I have paid my share. In the
case of a governor, you can usually make a donation to somebody. I recently
went to Israel with Governor [Jeb] Bush [Florida governor, 1999-present], and I
was faced with a situation where Holland & Knight's [law firm] Israel office was
paying for some of the meals we were having. I did not want to be rude and bring
out my shekels in Tel Aviv, but what I did when we got back was make a
donation to Holland & Knight's Holocaust Fund. You usually find some
appropriate way to repay the money. So, I have done that several times. I went to
Spain and Italy with Bob Martinez when he was governor, and we were in
situations where an Italian host was providing something and there was no
graceful way to repay them, so what I did was make a large donation to Mary
Jane Martinez' favorite charity in the name of the Italian woman who had been
the host. So, there are ways to pay even when there is no obvious way to pay.
Where possible, we buy our own tickets. I recently went to the Sugar Bowl to tag
along with [Talbot] "Sandy" D'Alemberte, the FSU president [1994-present], and
there were a number of functions, one, a dinner which we paid $150 to get into
which was not worth $150. I paid for my game ticket, $125. I thought clearly the
game ticket was worth it.
C: For FSU to win the national championship, it must have been worth that.
M: But I am not sure the Sugar Bowl dinner on the night before was all that worthy.
But we wanted the access to the president, and he granted us total access. He
said that he would not exclude me from any meeting he had over the course of
the Sugar Bowl festivities, but I did have to pay to get into some of the places.
C: Did he surprise you about that trip, what you observed?
M: Yes. D'Alemberte has been somewhat remote from his football team. In fact, the
reason the Times wanted me to go [was], during the fall, when Peter Warrick,
one of the best football players in the nation-some would argue the best-was
caught in a petty theft episode, and I was interviewing D'Alemberte, he told me
he had never met Warrick before. I said, does that not make you awfully remote
from your players? I said, Warrick is arguably the best-known football player in
the southeastern United States, if not the U.S. as a whole, and you had never
met him before this trouble arose? He said, well, I do not spend time in locker
rooms. I used that series of quotes in the story, and our sports editor called me
the next day and said, you know, if these people go to the national
championship, would you go along with D'Alemberte and write about him? So I
went without really a good definition of what I was doing to go, except that I was
going to write about him, and got several good stories out it. I mean, here was
this very academic president, who was not known for being an academic when
he went into that job, and yet he has raised more money than anybody has
raised for [FSU]. It was an interesting look at what a president does in the midst
of a championship football team, most of which had nothing to do with football
and yet everything to do with it. There was a moment in the French Quarter at
about two a.m. after they won the game when, among other things, D'Alemberte
signed a football for somebody, which brought me into much laughter. He said,
look, I did not take credit for doing anything in the game! Anyway, it made several
interesting stories and, I think, gave interesting insight into the sort of academic
rewards that flow from an athletic championship.
C: And monetary, the fundraising that goes on with wealthy supporters.
M: Yes. And it was good access. One of the events we went to was a party only
for the people who had given a million dollars or more to the university. So you
got a a really good look at people who were in that category in the life of the
C: There was an election and you were chosen to be a member of the Times board.
What does that mean to you? What does that represent?
M: It was interesting. My whole career, I have been overly frank with everybody
everywhere. It is just my nature to be too frank. I had always assumed that there
would be a day when I would get fired for being too frank, that I would call some
editor a shithead who had really been a shithead. I had been really fortunate over
the years at the Times that most of the editors I had worked for had been people
who could take it when I dished it out. I had just assumed that trait in me would
get me fired some day. Well, Barnes calls me in, in the summer of 1991, and
says, I really want to complicate your life; I would like to put you on the board of
directors. The year preceding that, or the two years preceding that, I had been
closely involved with the directors in the Robert Bass fight, the millionaire from
Texas who tried to take over the Times. I had been the conduit between the
Times and the attorney general's office. In fact, at the time the suit was settled, I
had agreed to give up reporting for a year or so and help the legal team on the
lawsuit, if it required that, mostly on the research that would be required for it, so
I had been close to that lawsuit and close to the things the board was doing. But,
Barnes said, I want to put you on the board of directors. To my knowledge, there
is no reporter anywhere in anybody's organization that has crossed over that line
and been put on a board like that. My immediate response was to say, Andy, I do
not think you are ready for anybody who is as frank as I am to sit on that board.
He swelled up like a toad and said, you really do underestimate me; that is why I
want you on this board.
C: How large is the board?
M: At the moment, I believe there are eight members, although we just recently lost
one. There are usually nine members. At that time, there were eleven or twelve
members. The bylaws, I think, require that number to be somewhere between
eight and thirteen or something. At the moment, there will be nine as soon as
there is a replacement of one who fell by the wayside. But that board runs the
Times, Congressional Quarterly, Florida Trend, and governs a group of shoppers
that we own and whatever else we own at the moment. To say 'run' is an abusive
term. The CEOs and managing officers of each of those organizations really run
it; that board is more in the role of oversight than day-to-day operations. We try
not to get involved in the minute doings of each, but we do approve the budgets
for them and the fringe benefits for staff and all that kind of thing.
C: But you have been known to ask what might be considered impertinent questions
about personalities in a newsroom?
M: Yes, I have sort of continued my role of being too frank, and I am usually the one
who asks the embarrassing questions in a meeting.
C: Which makes Andy Barnes happy, I am sure.
M: Yes, I think Andy really wants those things to come out. I am sure there are times
when I ask a question that he regrets having given me this portfolio, but for the
most part, I think he has been very tolerant of my tendency to ask. One of the
sort of touching things about it was that I had assumed that I would be
considered the newsroom advocate on the board. I understood that. But, in one
of the first meetings I attended-actually, it was a company staff meeting-I was
out at the production plant where I know the least people. I have never worked in
St. Petersburg, so I tend not to know most of the advertising, production and
circulation staff that people who work there might run into and know. I left the
meeting to go get a Coke down the hall, and as I put my money in the machine,
obviously somebody out of the press room, covered with all of the dirt of the
pressroom, came up to me and grabbed me and he said, I just want you to know,
Lucy, that we consider you our board member. It was just very touching. I mean,
the rank-and-file staff saw me not just as the newsroom. You know, usually, there
is such a division between news and all of the other sections of a newspaper,
because there just is so much distance between us. I thought it was very
touching that the rank-and-file people there see me as their member as well as
the newsroom. I think it is good for the company, and would be good for any
company. It is a balancing act. It does complicate your life. Most of the editors
who handle my copy are editors who, technically, I outrank in many ways, so that
I have to be very conscious not to pull rank and try to proceed as though things
were without me sitting on the board, but they and I are always conscious of the
fact that I have that additional clout, if you will. It enables me to get things
approved faster. For instance, the last campaign that Lawton Chiles [Florida
governor, 1991-1999] had, he made a demand ten days out from the election
that no reporter could travel with him unless they could produce $4,000 up front
to pay their expenses in advance. I guess he was trying to cut out the number of
people who were travelling with him, and I was the only member of the Capitol
press corps who could immediately produce a $4,000 check, simply because I
could call St. Pete and say, cut me a $4,000 check and FedEx it up here, so that
I was able to do that on the spot without having to go through a chain of
command that went to Chicago and back or something. I know when I request a
payment for something, it is going to get approved, and I am not at all reluctant to
simply approve the expenditure. It is not that there is any official piece of paper
that says I have that authority; it will just happen.
C: You mentioned Lawton Chiles. Talk about your observations of his administration
and your coverage of his funeral.
M: I think [when] Chiles came into office, all of us had great hope that this was sort
of dream governor. You had a governor and a lieutenant governor with Buddy
MacKay who were enormously experienced, had good reputations, and came
back from the dead, so to speak, to run this state and did nothing with that.
C: Did you think he was going to win that election?
M: Yes. I thought from the moment he entered, he would to win. Martinez was not a
charismatic governor. I think that Martinez would have won re-election if Chiles
had not come in, that Chiles essentially came in and saved the Democratic party
from itself. In a sense, he also killed it. I do not think that Bill Nelson [Florida
insurance commissioner and former congressman] could have beat Martinez at
that point in life. He was going about it in too clumsy a fashion, and he would
never have succeeded. But Chiles had this sort of mystical quality about him that
made people just worship him, just lots of charisma. When compared to
Martinez, he would have won in a landslide in any situation. I think the liberals
saw him as a guy who would be willing to pass taxes and to do the
uncomfortable things that needed to be done to govern. The conservatives saw
him as still sort of a good old boy. Actually, I think the conservatives were more
right. I think Lawton Chiles was basically a good old boy from Polk County who
was most comfortable around his own cronies. The people he appointed to jobs
were generally his cronies, not necessarily the people best qualified for the job. I
think he made a lot of mistakes. I think he generated a lot of goodwill, and that
may have been his best asset. He came in, and everybody thought, okay, we will
get the taxes we need to solve the public school problems we have. T.K.
Wetherell, who was the House Speaker when Chiles came in, has told me since,
he went to Chiles and said, look, Governor, if we are going to pass a tax, it has to
be this year; we will never get it done in an election year. I can deliver the
legislature to you; we have Democrats in control of both houses, and that may
not be true after this year, but we can do what needs to be done to solve the
state's problems. Chiles balked and would not do it; he would not go there. He let
himself pledge No New Taxes during the campaign, and he kept it. He never got
in a position, got enough ahead of the game, money-wise to be able to do some
of the things that he had championed in his lifetime. Only in his final years did the
state really have enough money to do anything, and by then, I think he had sort
of lost interest in doing a lot of things. I think much of his time as governor, he
was not interested in the day-to-day job of governing. I think he liked being
governor and liked using that role for things he was really interested in, but there
was not a whole lot that interested him.
C: In your view, did you see him turning a lot of the day-to-day interest in what the
legislature was doing to Buddy MacKay? Did he delegate authority in that sense?
M: I expected him to do that and, yet, he did not. I think there was always some
residual reluctance to turn it over to Buddy, that he did not want Buddy to have
the role. A lot of us thought that Chiles would take that job and then step out of it
and, in essence, will it to Buddy, let Buddy be governor for a time, but I think
Lawton did not want to let Buddy be governor, that he so enjoyed the title and the
things that came with being governor. The biggest disappointment that I had in
Lawton [was] I had always assumed him to be very ethical. When he went in, he
established this rule for his staff that nobody could take anything valued at more
than, like, $2.50 from anybody, which was a great standard to establish in
government, where you had, for contrast, legislators taking expensive meals and
trips and bottles of wine and everything from lobbyists and [coming] under fire for
[this]. So, it was a great contrast, but Chiles did not himself adhere to that
standard. He took free hunting trips, free trips to games. He took free shotguns
and things from sugar interests. So it was a disappointing contrast. I think he saw
himself above the fray. There was a sort of arrogance to him, where he thought,
these things do not influence me, so I do not need to have a rule. The standard
that he set for the people who saw that happening was poor.
C: What about the cast of characters in the legislature that you have observed
during the time you have been bureau chief. Dempsey [J.] Barron, for example,
President of the Senate?
M: I enjoyed Dempsey a lot. Unlike many people in the legislature, Dempsey was
pretty frank about what he was doing and where he was going. You could
disagree with what he wanted to do, but he knew how to use the process to
reach an end, probably better than anybody since then has ever achieved.
Dempsey knew how to horse-trade and how to get something done. He knew
what everybody wanted, and he knew how to trade what one senator wanted for
what another senator had and how to use that to get a bill through the system. I
rather enjoyed Dempsey. I did not know Dempsey well. In fact, my only exposure
to Dempsey before I took over the bureau here was, a few years earlier, I had
written a story which accused him of taking a $50,000 bribe, which he
remembered well on the day that I took over here. But it had come out in a court
case where Mallory [E.] Home, former president of the Senate [1973-1974], had
been taped by the FBI promising Dempsey and other votes for $50,000 to each.
To this day, I do not have a clue of whether it was true or not, but it had come out
in a court case and I had written about it. So, that was my initial experience with
C: How did he remind you of that?
M: Oh, he reminded me the minute he met me, the first day I was here, that the last
time I had written about him was to accuse him of taking a bribe. Dempsey was
very forthright about things like that. He and I had a great relationship. When his
office would get too filled with lobbyists wanting something, Dempsey would call
me and say, would you drop by? Of course, the minute I would come and start to
spend a little time in there, the lobbyists would leave, so I was the periodic
cleaner-out of lobbyists who did not want to ask for favors in front of me.
Dempsey would make it clear to them that I had entire and that if they wanted to
speak to him, they had to do it in front of me. So, it would keep his office free of
certain lobbyists. I am sure he would not call me if it was a lobbyist he wanted to
have a discussion with. I do not have any illusions about that. I learned very
quickly that the easiest way to know what was happening was to go where
Dempsey was because he was usually at the center of it. When there was a
huge power struggle in 1986 over who would become the Senate president, Ken
Jenne had thirty-nine signed pledges from members of the senate to make him
president of the Senate. He never achieved that position because Dempsey
overthrew him. I was sitting in Dempsey's office when I realized that it was final
because the sergeant-at-arms delivered to Dempsey the parking cards for the
chairman of the rules committee and the leadership positions for Dempsey to
distribute to whoever he wanted to have them. The key to all power in
Tallahassee is the best parking spots. I just found Dempsey highly interesting to
cover, quite a character and usually very direct. I watched him one year. Sam
Bell was the appropriations chairman in the House, and Dempsey was rules
committee chairman in the Senate. This year probably would have been 1987, or
1988, and I watched him bring all of the process to a halt in the final week or ten
days of session because an elderly retired teacher from FSU-Ms. Fay Kirtland
was her name-was lobbying for a group of retired teachers who had been left out
of a benefit by some sort of timing problem: they had retired in a certain year,
and there were a few years where they did not get adequate health insurance. [It
was] some sort of bureaucratic snafu, and they had been lobbying for years
trying to get a bill passed to fix this problem. Harry [A.] Johnston, when he was
president of the Senate [1985-1986], would not even give Ms. Fay an
appointment. So, it appealed to Dempsey not only to give Ms. Fay an
appointment but to bring the whole budget process to a halt until somebody was
willing to put the item in that would fix this little problem for Ms. Fay and her
retired teachers, most of them elderly women spinsters who contributed a dollar
to Dempsey's campaigns each time. Dempsey was perfectly capable of using his
power for that kind of person as he was for the head of St. Joe Paper Company
or somebody. I think it probably amused him more to use his power in moments
like that than it did for the big-deal people. Of course, Ms. Fay loved him to death
and praised him to the skies for it. I think that is part of what made him such a
charming political character; he learned how to deal with the powerful people in
this world and the little people in this world who he had once been part of. Early
on, when I first came here in 1986, I was appalled by the free stuff that legislators
took from lobbyists, including Dempsey. I mean, they could eat every meal, just
constant gifts of things. They took them on trips, hunting or golfing or whatever
else they wanted to do.
C: Did you write about it?
M: Yes. In 1987, I decided to compare the gifts that legislators reported getting with
the gifts lobbyists reported giving. The law required a legislator to report any gift
valued at more than $25. The lobbyists were supposed to report the aggregate,
but they did not have to identify who got the gift. I know you would be shocked to
know that there was a difference of several million dollars in what was reported
given against what was reported gotten. I kept notes during the course of the
year when I saw a legislator leaving on a trip with a lobbyist or something like
that so that I had some basis, but I did a story. At the time, it was a criminal
misdemeanor for a legislator, or any public official, to violate that law. Well, the
legislature's reaction to the stories I wrote in 1987 on this problem was to go
back into the law in 1988 and eliminate the criminal penalty from the law and
raise the amount of the gift they could take to $100. That was their initial reaction.
Then, in 1989, I decided to go back and look at it again and look at all the gifts
that they were taking and not reporting, particular trips. Dempsey always
preached that a trip was not a gift, that you could not make that comparison,
which, I think, even Dempsey knew that was a ludicrous position to take. But,
one morning in the midst of all my reporting and questioning the legislators about
this, Dempsey calls me at the office about nine-thirty and he says, Lucy, you are
right. He said, last night, I went out with a bunch of lobbyists, and they bought
this huge steak dinner with a big baked potato with all this sour cream, and I
drank all kinds of whiskey throughout dinner, and after dinner, they bought me all
these fancy after-dinner drinks, and I drank all this brandy and stuff. And, he said,
this morning, I feel like a bouquet of dog-asses; I should not have taken those
[gifts]. I used that as a sidebar in the story the next day. That is the way
Dempsey was. I also think that Dempsey, somewhat like Lawton Chiles, saw
himself as unreachable by this largesse. He felt that everybody gave him things
and that none of them bought him by doing it, that it was an entitlement.
C: There was no payback.
M: Yes. I think he just saw this as something he was entitled to and that he was not
repaying them by giving them anything. In some instances, he did not give
anything. His tendency to give somebody a gift in a bill was often more oriented
toward somebody he liked than somebody who had given him something. Now,
sometimes those were the same people. There was a group of lobbyists that sort
of surrounded him. Some of them were great with guitars and songs, and they
would entertain at any Dempsey gathering. Others of them could put on an apron
and serve drinks. Lobbyists at that time were, I thought, tremendously
demeaning of themselves. You would see them cleaning up the garbage or
serving drinks or slicing the ham, doing things like this at events that Dempsey or
other legislators had. I mean, if your picture of a lobbyist is a guy in a suit passing
information or explaining the complexities of insurance to a legislator, that was
not a lobbyist of the mid-1980s that I found here. The successful lobbyists were
those who could drive them around, extricate legislators from drunken incidents,
pave the way for them to get from point A to point B, or, if it was a legislator's
birthday, stage a party for him, and those kinds of things. That is what I wrote
about in the late-1980s.
C: Who is the lobbyist of 2000?
M: The lobbyist 2000 is much more a person who knows the issue, and this is
evolving; I think this is probably going to change as term-limits come. At the turn
at the century, the best lobbyists are those who thoroughly know the issue, know
the process, and know the member. The best lobbying firms have employed
black males and females, Republicans and Democrats, and people who know,
personally, the legislators. We are almost at man-to-man lobbying, where, on an
important issue, you will see a huge team of lobbyists deployed, some of whom
are hired only because they happen to know a group of, say, Broward legislators
and have easy access to them. You will have some members of that team who
know the issue real well, some of who have had long party traditions with each of
the party members who are going to affect it. But, as term-limits impact [politics],
the one underlying influence that is always going to be there is the lobbyist who
has contributed money to the campaign and has gotten his clients to do it.
Probably, one of the smartest lobbyists around is Ronnie Book from Miami.
Some lobbyists work hard only during a legislative session. Ronnie works all
year. He goes out and raises money. I have even seen him carry the luggage of
legislators who are coming into the Capitol from the airport. Ronnie is sort of your
all-service man. He will help them raise money, help them run whatever
campaign functions they need done. He was a staffer for Bob Graham when
Graham was governor. He goes back into the roots of government. He knows it
well, knows the process. He cultivates the secretaries everywhere in the building.
He will be sure they get an appropriate gift at times, nothing lavish, flowers or
candy at the right moment. He will get things done probably quicker than most
any other lobbyist that I can think of at the moment.
C: Do you use him as a source?
M: Yes, I talk to Ronnie a fair amount. Ronnie is one of those who is pretty brazen
about what he does, most of the time; there will be some things he will keep
secret in any session until he has it in a law somewhere. One of the things I have
done more out of sport, I guess, than anything is to try to find the hidden things in
bills. Ronnie sort of enjoys this sport, and will participate. Once you learn that you
can use one lobbyist against another in this process, much in the same way you
learn to use one party against another in the political arena, you know when you
are looking for something about a given piece of legislation to go to the natural
opponents of that to find out what they know about it and what you can get out of
them. I suppose one of the funniest examples [is], some years ago, I heard from
a source that Mac Stipanovich, who had been chief of staff for Bob Martinez, had
been hired by Alamo Rent-a-Car to keep the governor from vetoing a bill and that
he was to be paid something like $150,000, which told me that was a pretty big
issue for Alamo. Now, that year, we had a huge rental car issue going that
involved collision-damage waivers. I immediately figured out that it was not that
issue; that was the surface issue that was involved in whatever Mac was doing.
The tip had included a suggestion that Alamo had gotten buried in a bill that had
passed in the preceding three or four days in committee a clause that would
make a lot of money for Alamo, but I did not know what bill that was. I set out
pulling all of the bills I could find that had been up in committee anywhere that
might benefit a rental-car company, and I could not find to save my life what it
was. That particular year, I knew that Alamo was in a war with Avis and Hertz
over the collision-damage waivers [CDWs]. Alamo made a huge percentage of
their income from the CDWs. Hertz and Avis did not, so Alamo wanted to keep
the right to tack those on to car-rental contracts in Florida. Hertz and Avis were
less interested in it. It was such a divisive issue that Hertz and Avis were willing
to sacrifice that issue to get other benefits. So, I simply went to the Avis lobbyist
whom I knew well and said, I have reason to believe that Alamo has buried
something in a bill that has come through committee in the last few days and that
it would be a huge benefit to Alamo but not to anyone else, and Mac Stipanovich
is involved in it. The lobbyist said he could not figure out what it was, and I knew
they were tracking closely anything. He said, but give me overnight. Well, he
worked for a firm who hired a reader who read every amendment offered for
every bill anywhere in the process and tracked exactly what that amendment
would do and whether it affected any of their clients. So, their reader went back
through all of the amendments that he had been going over and found an
amendment that had been offered on, like, page thirty-five of an eighty-six page
bill, and that amendment did not refer to rental cars or Alamo or anybody, but
what it said was that anybody covered under statute number so- and-so, subject
to statute number so-and-so, would be free of paying any fee beyond the cost.
What it did, as a matter of practice, was it would require the airports not to charge
Alamo for the privilege of picking up passengers at airports. See, Avis and Hertz
paid a huge fee to airports to pick up on the premises and have their rental cars
rented on premises. Alamo paid a smaller fee, but a substantial fee, for the
pick-up privilege there. This would have wiped out that fee. For the airport in
Tampa, it would have been about $4,000,000 a year; for Orlando, about the
same; for Dade, $10,000,000 a year. So I immediately called the airport
managers around the state and had a story in the next day's paper. On that day,
I determined that the amendment had been offered by Kurt Kiser, senator from
Pinellas County, who told me he had offered it at the request of Ralph Haben
[former speaker of the House], who was also among the Alamo lobbyists. Kurt
did not realize what it had done. He thought it sounded fair to charge only the
cost of what it would cost the airport to do something; he did not realize how
much income was involved for the airports. When I ran into Haben that day, I
said, I need to talk about this amendment you put in. It was in a special taxing
district bill. I said, I need to talk to you about this amendment, and he said, oh,
you know, I could really tell you all about that tomorrow, if you just wait until
tomorrow to talk to me about it. I said, no, I am writing a story for tomorrow, and
he said, really, if you wait until tomorrow, my client will give me permission to talk
to you. I said, no, I think I have to have this in tomorrow's paper. I got it in the
next day's paper. Those who were downstairs for the early morning breakfast
that a lot of the lobbyists have in the Capitol say that Haben walked in and they
showed him the headline, to which he replied, oh, f! (with less expletive deleted
than that.) I found out later that I had blown a $1,000,000 fee for Haben. Alamo
was paying him $1,000,000 to get that in the bill and a contingency fee if it
survived, and he was going to pay some of the money to Stipanovich to keep it
from being vetoed.
C: So that is the sport.
M: Yes, this is the sort of sporting element that you find. I love to find these little
buried treasures in a bill. Unfortunately, I fear that we find very few of them.
These things are put into complex bills that relate to insurance and very dull
issues and things that you think are not interesting at all. I think a lot of things get
into law that you just do not realize until later, way down the road, you see the
impact, if you see it at all.
C: Do you think there are a lot of honest mistakes that the legislators make, or are
they in on it?
M: Probably more often than not, it is an honest mistake. It is a deception, or a point
of view. See, Alamo, I think, would take the position in that case that, well, it is
unfair to charge us all this money; all we do is pick up a passenger there. The
airport ought not benefit from it. So, that is the lobbyist's point of view, if he tells
the legislator that much about it at all. Sometimes, I think the legislator is simply
dumb and misled by a lobbyist who knows more about what he is doing than he
does, or busy.
C: Are they also more overwhelmed the closer you get to the end of session?
M: Yes, you have so many bills and so many issues floating around that it is very
easy to technically tweak a bill, to greatly benefit one business or another. Most
legislators do not have the time or the expertise to understand what a little tweak
here or there does on the other end once something gets into law. In these
last-minute amendments, you do not have any staff to analyze them most of the
time so that it gets onto the bill, usually in the final week of session or the final
day of session, and it gets into law without anybody really having looked at the
consequences of it; they are fooled that way. Really good legislators who are
conscientious would reject an amendment like that from a lobbyist at the last
minute, saying, wait a minute, this should go through the process. Ideally, any
change in the law ought to go through that process where it is heard at public
hearing and staff can analyze it and you know what it is going to do at the other
end. In fact, that does not always happen. For many lobbyists, it is equally a
sport. I mean, they want to win, and they want to get it through the process with
the least change to benefit their client. Some of these lobbyists make a lot of
money. We probably have a number of lobbyists here who make more than
$1,000,000 a year off their lobbying. Contingency fees are now illegal, but I
suspect they are called bonuses and still paid from time-to-time when somebody
does a good job for their company. But, the business community has learned that
they can get the playing field un-level, if you will, by running a bill through the
process that benefits them. Sometimes, it may exempt them from a tax.
Sometimes, I think, we do it and we know we do it; we know that we have
benefitted this business, to promote it or to help citizens or to do whatever. Right
now, for instance, there is a tax-exemption we are moving through that would
make diapers tax-exempt. Well, that would help the poor mother out there trying
to struggle to buy diapers; it would also help the people who make diapers and
C: St. Joe Paper Company would love that.
M: Yes, so, sometimes, we do this with full knowledge of what we are doing, and I
think that is fine. It is when you are burying an amendment that would help a
particular business, and this is a time-honored tradition. In the 1940s, the
legislature buried an amendment that made the Fennholloway [River] exempt
from pollution laws to help the cellulose company there.
C: Does being on the board, a reporter, a bureau chief, and column-writer impact
your role as reporter? Covering the legislature, for example, and then you write
a Sunday column taking a viewpoint ...
M: Yes. I try to take less a viewpoint than comment on what is going on. It is a fine
line. For instance, I would never write a column that said I either supported or
opposed abortion, or something like that, but I might comment on the way public
officials handle an abortion bill. I try to keep it in that vein. I often poke fun at
politicians. I recently wrote a column that said the governor looked like an idiot,
and I had an editor who called and said, wait a minute, we are a little squeamish
about calling the governor an idiot. I said, no, no, I only said he looked like an
idiot; I did not say he was an idiot. Well, they wanted to change that to say, it
looked like he was in over his head or something, and I said, okay, if you guys
are squeamish, do it. Then, I ended the column by saying the whole event looked
like a circus with the governor as ringmaster. Whoever wrote the headline
decided that the governor looked like a clown and wrote clown into the headline.
So, I called him and I said, let me get this straight; you guys are squeamish about
letting me call the governor an idiot, but you call him a clown in the headline;
what, pray tell, is the difference? Well, that, of course, was a mistake, and the
editor who wrote that headline was thumped on the ear or something. It is a fine
line, and I am aware of it and try to dance along it. I very often do comment on
the behavior of legislators and public officials, and, sometimes, I do make them
mad-I know you find that hard to believe-but most of them are still speaking to
me. In fact, I cannot think of any current sitting legislator who is not speaking to
me at the moment. There have been moments when they got mad enough at me
not to speak to me, but not usually.
C: Will they literally not respond to questions or not return phone calls?
M: Rarely. I cannot think of anybody who would fall into that category at the
C: They just snub you if they see you in the hallway?
M: No, I cannot recall that I have had that. I have had a few of them chew me out
over the years and not want to respond, but I cannot recall any of them who have
ever carried through on that.
C: Do they ever go over your head and call St. Pete?
M: Occasionally, but rarely. At the moment, the legislator most likely to be mad at
me at any given moment is probably Jack Latvala, the Majority Leader in the
Senate, who has got a hot temper. Last spring, he was returning a call to one of
my reporters, and when I answered the phone, I said, oh, while I have you, I
have a question for you, and he said, I would rather have an enema than answer
a question from you.
C: What did you respond?
M: I said, well, I am not about to give you an enema, but I do have a question. But I
have found that, generally, by being frank with them, they appreciate where I am
and generally answer my questions, and most of them will tell you that I have
been fair to them, that I have bent over backwards to listen to their side of
something and to present their side in a story.
C: In 1992, you were recognized in the Kappa Tau Alpha Hall of Fame at the
University of South Florida. What did that achievement award mean to you?
M: I do not know much about the history of the award. It is always nice to get any
award, when people say, you have been a nice person and you have done good.
I liked that, from that standpoint.
C: They had a banquet in your honor, said it was the university's thirteenth annual
award to recognize individuals who have made a significant contribution to the
mass media in Florida. Do you see yourself as having a leadership role, a
M: I think I am looked at by other reporters and by students as having a leadership
role, and I am conscious [of that]. I do not know that I feel it any more than I did
twenty years ago. I have always felt that a reporter had to set an example, that if
I am going to throw rocks at a public official who misbehaves, I need to be
behaving. I cannot establish a different standard of behavior for myself, so that I
have always expected to be arrested if I broke the law, to have a listed phone
number, to meet the criteria that I would expect of a public official. I have always
tried to live by a standard that is, if not above reproach, as close there as I could
get. From that standpoint, I have always been conscious of the fact that I am out
there, and consider that I live in a fishbowl as much as anybody else does.
Certainly, the older I get, the more aware I am of that. I now run into competitors
who come up and say, oh, you talked to my class when I was a student and now
I am an old lady here. Yes, I am aware that people look to me and expect a
certain standard, which I hope I adhere to.
C: One of the quotes attributed to you when you received the award at the
University of South Florida was, it has been an enormous benefit being a
Southern woman dealing with good old boys; when they hear that Hattiesburg
accent, they think you do not have a brain in your head. How is that related to
how you do your job?
M: I think it is true that part of my success has been that I am a Southern woman,
and this was particularly true in the early years in my career; after you win a
Pulitzer, it is a little hard to convince people that you do not know what you are
doing. When I open my mouth and speak Southern, it is disarming to the average
man who has been in control of the world and not expecting women to play much
of a role in that. They assume I have no brain when they hear this Southern
brogue, until it is too late. Many times, I have had men just walk themselves out
on a limb, terribly, and get caught out there lying to me or being dumb, because I
am smart enough to catch them doing it. And they just haven't realized it. I
would much rather be underestimated than overestimated. I mean, if you go in to
interview a guy who has done something bad and you are trying to catch him and
get him to admit it, you are much better off if he assumes you incapable of
understanding it than if he thinks you are Wily Fox about to get him.
C: Are a lot of your sources uneasy or on edge, just because you are Lucy Morgan
and you have the reputation? Are they wary of you?
M: Yes, people are wary of me. People tell me, the worst thing in the world is to
come in your office and have a message that Lucy Morgan is looking for you. But
I think the people who have a reason to be wary are wary of me, if they have
done something they know that I could catch them doing that is wrong. People
who have gone about their business in an honest fashion, and have done the
best they could, do not worry about me. They understand that I will be fair. One
of the things I have tried never to do myself, and I try to keep my staff from doing
it, is what I call shooting rubberbands at people. When I write a bad story about a
public official, I want to focus on the fact that they have really been bad. If all they
have done is stumble, phone home on a cell phone, or do something that
technically might be illegal but is not really serious, I try not to pick on them over
it. Public officials get shot at from every angle all the time, and I know that. I do
not want to be guilty of picking on them for minor offenses. When I shoot at them,
I want to load the gun, and I generally have that reputation. For instance, if I
catch a public official smoking in a public building, I am probably not going to
write about it because it is so minor. Some reporters develop a reputation of, I
am going to write about every bad thing you do. Almost everybody does
something bad, so they do not have good relations for those people. I am not out
to curry favor with them; I am just not going to pick on them for something minor,
and I do not waste their time by calling them when something is minor. Generally,
any public official who knows me well knows that when I call, it is serious; they
better return the call; there is a reason to call me back. It is odd. I always find it
odd that people who I have just done in will still talk to me and will sometimes
thank me for being fair. Fred Lippman was a legislator from South Florida whom I
caught involved in a sexual harassment scandal; the House had illegally and
secretly paid a House employee $47,000 to disappear and not file suit against
him, because of Fred's behavior. Actually, the tip came to me through a lobbyist
who had been in a bar and had overheard one legislator to another complaining
that the House had to pay a substantial amount of money to keep Fred out of
trouble in a sexual harassment case. The way I found it was to go to the public
records. I went to the comptroller's office and found money that had been paid to
a House employee after she left the payroll. When I tried to pull the voucher on it
to find why the money had been paid to her, the comptroller did not have any
records of why it was paid to her, just at the order of the Speaker. So I had
discovered that and written about it. There had been this huge number of
hearings. It had become the As The World Turns [soap opera] of the Capitol. I
mean, Fred Lippman was a little short Jewish guy, the most unlikely to be
accused of sexual harassment in the legislature. But, when it was over, in fact,
on the very day that Fred was stripped of all of his power in the House, I ran into
him in the back hall of the Speaker's office. Assuming he was going to be quite
angry at me, I simply said, hi, Fred, about to brush on past him, and he grabs me
and hugs me. This is his response. I cannot understand that. I do not know why,
C: That is probably what got him in trouble in the first place.
M: Yes. I have always thought that was sort of interesting. But most of the people I
have written about, even in the most negative of ways, would still speak to me, in
many instances because they know that they have been caught fair-and-square,
that I have given them ample opportunity to answer, and that I have been fair in
the handling of the story.
C: Do you see that simply as part of being a professional journalist?
M: Yes, I think it is. I think you do have to develop a tough hide. People are going to
yell at you when they are caught doing things wrong. Usually, the lower they are
in the food chain, the city councilmen will squeal the most, because they are the
least experienced at having bad things written about them. I can go into almost
any town and tell you whether there is a good newspaper there, because if it is
easy to get public records, if public officials are responsive and appear to be
candid, odds are there is a pretty good newspaper working there. If you find it
very difficult to get at records, if public officials are unresponsive and unwilling to
give you records or information, the odds are that no real newspaper is covering
that community, even though somebody may think that there is a real newspaper
there. You can go county-by-county all over Florida, which has a reputation for
easy access to public records, and you would see that unravel out of any attempt
to get records in a courthouse somewhere.
C: I know you travel around the country and talk to professional groups,
investigative reporters and editors, the Society for Professional Journalists, the
American Society of Newspaper Editors. Is that an important part of your job
now, support of press issues?
M: I have always thought it was important to talk to students and to young reporters.
One of the things I did last year, I was auctioned off by the Associated Press
Managing Editors to go spend a day in somebody's newsroom. They sold me
into doing this by telling that the papers that would be bidding on it would be
Portland and Seattle and Honolulu, all over the world. The paper that bid the
highest and won me for a day was the Bergen Record in Hackensack, New
Jersey. I flew in one night and left the next night. What I found in that newsroom
[was], they had an editor and a managing editor, both women, highly energized,
and I found a highly energized staff who wanted to know how to do things. I met
with the investigative team for awhile and gave them some suggestions on how
to do what they wanted to do, and I had lunch with their Capitol bureau people
and some of their statewide reporters. Then, I spent the afternoon talking to a
large group of staff and answered questions. I think more and more, we need to
do that in journalism today, for a couple of reasons. So many papers cannot
afford or will not afford to send reporters who are in the midst of their careers to
places where they might listen to other journalists and get additional education,
so that the ability to bring somebody in to meet with them and talk to them about
real problems and answer their questions is a real benefit that more and more
papers ought to take advantage of, because you can, for relatively minor
expenses, bring someone in to teach journalism. So I do some of that. I almost
always try to talk to student groups that ask, where I can work it in. I just feel that
is some of my responsibility. I have become, sort of, the mother hen of the press
center here; if anybody has a problem, they usually come down to me to talk
about it. That may just be because I am the oldest one in the building. No, I am
not the oldest, but I am almost the oldest in the building.
C: What about other jobs? You have got to be a very rare person in this field. You
really have only worked for two newspapers in your entire career.
M: And for thirty-two years at the Times, which is rather unusual.
C: Have you had opportunities to go to other newspapers?
M: Yes, I have others call me. I have had politicians call and ask me if I would take
jobs working for them. I have had universities that tried to hire me. When Betty
Castor took over at the University of South Florida, she tried to get me to leave
the Times and come to work for her. I have really had no interest in working
outside of journalism. I have stayed with the Times, in part, because they have
tolerated me when I tell them what idiots they are, but also because of the
independence of the paper. I am, by nature, a rather independent person, and I
think that I would have trouble working for some of the corporations that so limit
the ability of the newsrooms to develop the news. I can give you a couple of
examples of our horror stories. The Tampa Tribune is our chief day-to-day
competitor in the Tampa Bay area. It is only one of a dozen or so in Tallahassee.
Media General owns them, a firm in Richmond, Virginia. On election day last
year, their reporter was in Miami, as were we all, to cover Jeb Bush's winning
night. Jeb had called a press conference for the next afternoon at two, the day
after the election. There was a hurricane moving across the Gulf, and the
morning news on that Wednesday morning was that the airport was likely to be
closed in the early evening hours. Most of us were booked back to Tallahassee
on a plane that left at seven, a little plane. I immediately flipped to the Delta jet
that left at five-thirty. A, I wanted to get out of Miami, and, B, I wanted to do it on
a plane big enough not to be rolling around in. So, I ran into the Tampa Tribune
reporter during the day, and she asked me if I was still going to try to get out at
seven on that plane most of us were booked on. I said no, I had flipped to the
earlier Delta jet, and she got the number of Delta from me and went on her way. I
saw her later and I said, were you able to get a seat on that plane? She said,
well, they have seats on the plane, but I have to get permission from Media
General in Richmond to change my ticket to do it, and I have not had the time to
get ahold of the accounting people. Now, this is a reporter in the middle of the
field with a hurricane, and she does not have the authority to change a plane
ticket. The cost of the change, by the way, was $40. I cannot imagine working for
a company that was that restrictive on whether you could spend money or what
options you could take. I think I would have a lot of trouble there. Those are the
kind of horror stories I am hearing out of the chains these days, and it frightens
me terribly for the future journalism, because those people who work for them are
very disheartened. There is no spirit de corps. There is no fun for them in what
they are doing. The Times has let me pursue stories and things that are fun. I
mean, why should I look anywhere else?
C: The Times is a very unique newspaper, is it not?
M : It is.
C: The entire organization.
M: It really is, and I do not think you know it until you have worked somewhere else
or know a lot about somebody else. I think we have a lot of reporters who came
in through our intern system who have never worked for another organization in
their lives, and if they do not know a lot of people well who do, I do not think they
understand the difference, the independence. I mean, the Times is often branded
as being arrogant. Well, I think we are different and, in many ways, we are better,
because of our independence. Nobody in Richmond or New York or Chicago or
San Jose is dictating what we do in St. Petersburg or Tallahassee. We can make
decisions fast, and a lot of our people can make decisions. It is not that
everything funnels up to one person who is the only one that can make a
decision. And, we are willing to spend money to develop news. I was the only
reporter that accompanied the governor to Israel in November. Even I was
reluctant to spend that kind of money, but when I told our editor that no other
reporters had signed up to go, he felt that we had an obligation to go, not for
competitive reasons but that some organization needed to be wherever the
governor was, and so we took that obligation and I went. It was an expensive trip,
but we have generally done that. None of the others would pay to go. The most
hilarious thing was, among those whose reporters tried to get them to send them
was Gannett, which has USA TODAY and FLORIDA TODAY in Brevard County.
The biggest news development on that trip was a big new business for Brevard
County, aligning a local business with an Israeli business, and they wound up
eating our dust and having to pick up the pieces after we got back from Israel
and wrote about it. Their bureau chief was among those who had tried to get
approval to make the trip, because a lot of the people going on the trip were in
the space industry.
C: I think we need to at least get something into the record about this injury that has
waylaid you. It may have slowed you down, [but] it certainly has not stopped the
way you do your job. Talk about breaking your ankle and what has transpired in
the month since that happened. This is a month and two days, right?
M: Even the governor might have guessed I was on a bed of pain when I wrote a
column calling him an idiot. It was a stupid fall. During a special session on the
death penalty, I went into the Capitol, less than twenty-four hours after I returned
from New Orleans covering the Sugar Bowl and the president there. They had
just remodeled the House press gallery, and where there used to be one step,
there are now two. It is also dark in there, so you cannot see where you are
going, unless you are watching closer than I was. I stepped off, thinking I was
stepping down one step and found I was in midair. My right foot folded
underneath me and shattered itself into about twenty-five pieces. I lay there on
the floor with my foot at right angles to my leg. They had to haul me out on a
stretcher, by ambulance to the hospital. It is not a good way to leave the Capitol.
I do not recommend it. However, the first call I received that night when I was
coming out from under the anesthetic from surgery was from the governor and
the second one from the House Speaker, so it did catch a good bit of attention in
the Capitol. I got almost back to the office and got an infection in the wounds.
They put in a bunch of screws and plates. I am now part bionic. I got an infection
that hurt worse than the original break, and I have now managed to keep myself
in the hospital ten days and in bed for a month. I have hopes of getting back in
the office in another week or so and back to the Capitol shortly thereafter. The
main thing it did was derail a trip to Cuba-I was supposed to have left for Cuba
two days after I fell-so I did not get to go harass Fidel.
C: Did it frustrate you not to be there when the governor was having this sit-in?
M: No, in a sense, because I was almost there. I had a reporter in the middle of it,
and I was directing his operations by cell phone, by his cell phone, my home
phone. Up until midnight that night, I was getting calls from the governor's staff
begging me to take my reporter out, and I was insisting that he remain. So I felt
like I was a part of it, since I was directing the coverage from my bed and, you
know, having a good time. I wrote a column about it from my bed and did things
like that. As long as I can talk and type and answer the phone, I can do
C: So what's here in your bedroom that allows you to do your job?
M: I have my trusty laptop computer and a phone and a line I can pull from the
phone and attach into my computer. I have a series of files that I am working on.
I am working on a legislative project where I am looking at the
conflicts-of-interests that legislators have. So, in the files that surround me, I
have a file on each legislator and their various conflicts-of-interest. I have a daily
mailbag my husband runs to the office with and picks up the mail for me and
leaves stuff I am sending to people. I get the paper brought here daily, and I keep
whatever I need in pads and pens to answer the phone. I talk daily to my own
staff, to the staff in St. Pete, and to various lobbyists and public officials who call
me at home or whom I call for some reason. I have managed to pretty well stay
in touch, by telephone. It is not as good as being there. I would much rather be
there to see what is going on, but because I have been there so much, it is easy
for me to visualize what is going on from my bedside. I hope not to be here much
longer. Surely, by session, I will be back, stumbling around the Capitol.
C: How many sessions have you covered now?
M: I came up for partial sessions back in the late 1960s, when I first worked for
Ocala. At the time, the leaders of the two houses were from the area I covered,
E. C. Rowell from Sumter County, and Nick Connor was president of the Senate
from Citrus County. So, I came up from time to time and did profiles on them and
on some of the other legislators. Off and on through the 1970s, I came up to do,
usually, particular stories or profiles. Then, when I started working for special
projects in the 1980s, I came up to do, sometimes, some issues and to interview
people throughout the session. So I was familiar with the process and had been
in Tallahassee a lot before I took over the bureau in 1986, and I have been here
for every session since then.
C: Can you think of anything that having a journalism degree or a bachelor's or
master's degree in something or a law degree would have added to your
capability doing this job?
M: I am sure it would have made me better educated. Most of my education has
come from the two-year degree and the reading I have done, probably far above
that, but I would have liked to have had it. I think that it gives you credibility that
you do not have without it. I guess I have a Pulitzer instead of a degree. That
gives me some credibility. But I think a basic education is now a requirement. I
probably could not get a job at the St. Petersburg Times with my basic
credentials now. The competition for jobs, for good jobs, is so high that I think
you have to have that basic degree to have the credibility to go beyond it.
C: You seem to have come from a family of strong women.
M: Yes. In fact, my mother was one of two children, and her father died when she
was three and my aunt was a year and a half. My grandmother was notified of his
death when they brought the body to the doorstep and laid it down and said, Ms.
Sanders, your husband George died in a train wreck today. She raised two
daughters, both of whom were very strong women. My mother died in 1994, after
years of strokes and other physical problems. I have a ninety-four-year-old aunt
who lives on and who is in better shape than I am at the moment. But, yes, very
strong women who believed deeply in education. My grandmother was a college
professor, and my mother was dean of women at a college at one time. All of the
women in my family--in fact, I am the only uneducated one. My sister has a Ph.D
C: And she is a psychologist?
M: Yes. She has now just retired this year, but she is twelve years older than I am.
She is seventy-one, I guess, now, and she has just retired, lives in Kansas as a
clinical psychologist. She was at the Menninger Foundation for years practicing
and in private practice out there.
C: Are you going to retire?
M: When I am sixty-five, yes.
C: How far away are you?
M: Five and a half years from it. I am fifty-nine now. I am going to retire and not work
a regular full-time job, which is not to say I might not write something or do
something. But I have a lot of other interests. I plan to live part of the summers in
North Carolina, at a place we have there, and part in Tallahassee, as long as our
health holds out to do as much of that as we can. I might write. I have thought
about doing something more formal in the way of talking to newsrooms and
reporters, maybe do something for the Poynter Institute, but do something to help
the journalism industry. I do not expect to go to work in somebody's public
relations job. Somehow, I do not think I would work out. I do not say, yes sir,
good enough to be anybody's flak, so I doubt that I will do anything like that.
C: Has it been helpful to have an understanding spouse who understands this
business, as a colleague from the business?
M: Yes, I think there is an immense amount of help in it. Like most high-pressured
careers, there is a lot of divorce in the newspaper business, and I think it is very
important to have a spouse who came out of the business, who understands that
when the phone rings at three a.m. with a major news story, you have to go at
three a.m.; you cannot wait until nine o'clock in the morning for that news story to
develop, that you have to go. You have to get to have a good stable private life to
be able to do the kind of work that I do. If you do not and you cannot lay it aside,
you are always in trouble at work. So, having an understanding spouse becomes
the essential element. My husband is ten years older than I am. I thought that
when he retired, I would have trouble, that he would not be as understanding of a
wife who shows up at nine o'clock some nights, seven o'clock other nights, and
ten o'clock some other nights, but he has been great about understanding it and
finding something to do. He sometimes wonders when he had time to work now
because he has so many other things to do. But, yes, I think it is a big element. I
do not think necessarily that you have to be so incestuous as to have every
journalist marry another journalist to be successful, but I think whatever your
spouse does, if you are married, it ought to be something that is as consuming as
this. If he is a lawyer, he ought to be really engaged in the practice of law, or a
doctor or whatever, and he needs to understand the immediacy of the news
profession, in the same way that a policeman's spouse has to understand that
when there is a crime committed and they are there, they have to go, or if there is
somebody ill and you are a doctor, you have to go deal with it. In journalism, it is
the same. If somebody shoots the governor in the middle of the night, I have to
get up and go deal with it.
C: Let's close with the Chiles story, because I thought that was a very impressive
story for you to cover, with the sudden death. At the time it happened, people
seemed to have forgotten about the earlier illnesses of Lawton Chiles, and it just
struck people so suddenly.
M: Yes. He died two weeks before he was to leave office. People had sort of
assumed he was going to fade off into history, and all of sudden he died as a
sitting governor. It was a Saturday afternoon, and the first day of my vacation,
first and last. He died at the mansion. His death was not discovered until about
four in the afternoon, although he had died earlier in the day. I got a call right
about the time that the body was discovered, from a source who told me he was
dead, and I went to the mansion directly. I got the other staff I had out and
working. Fortunately, we had in-house a piece that was almost finished that our
political editor was doing, summarizing his years in office, which we were able to
quickly convert over into a day-after-death piece. I wrote a column about it, and
we had a news story about it. I think we were the only ones that [understood] that
he had to have been dead all day. First of all, knowing anybody's habits, this was
not a man who exercised in the middle of the afternoon. That is a morning thing,
and when they told us that he died on the exercise bike, I was pretty sure that it
had not just happened, and no one would answer my questions about how long
he had been dead. The fact that nobody would answer it added to my
speculation. On that night at about ten o'clock, I was able to get Dexter Douglas,
his old friend and general counsel, to confirm that he had been dead at least
since early morning. But we got a lot into that first-day coverage out of it, and a
lot of it was working the same sources we had been working all along with the
administration. It was an interesting end. I think Lawton Chiles went out in the
way he would have wanted to, as governor with a lot of fanfare around it.
C: What have we not talked about that is of interest about Lucy Morgan?
M: It may be clear, but I think that reporting becomes a highly personalized thing,
whether you want it to or not. There are lots of people in the Capitol who will tell
their secrets to me but not to my staff. So I think reporters most of all need to be
nice to people, need to develop that line of contact so people feel free to talk to
them. If I fail to teach that to people I speak to, I have failed at everything. I do
not think there is any need for the arrogance I see among some reporters and
journalists, who come into a situation almost saying, I am important; I am the
journalist here; you need to tell me what I know. I think we need to be nice to
people, respectful of them, and ask them for information rather than demand it.
Only in that way can we be successful in getting to the bottom of what we are
doing and finding all the information. Nothing turns off the average person who
possesses information like the arrogance of a reporter who comes in demanding
something. So I would urge an end to the arrogance I see among many reporters
out there who think that is the way to go about getting news.
[End of the interview.]