Monday, September 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Nutter rips Philly mag race story, calls for "rebuke"

At Mayor Nutter's request, the city Human Relations Commission will conduct an "inquiry" into race relations in the city, following Philadelphia magazine's widely criticized cover story, "Being White in Philly."

Nutter rips Philly mag race story, calls for "rebuke"

At Mayor Nutter's request, the city Human Relations Commission will conduct an "inquiry" into race relations in the city, following Philadelphia magazine's widely criticized cover story, "Being White in Philly."

In a letter, Nutter tore into the magazine and the story, which quoted anonymous white Philadelphians about their view on race and has been attacked for promoting negative stereotypes and not including the views of minorities.

"This month Philadelphia Magazine has sunk to a new low even for a publication that has long pretended that its suburban readers were the only citizens civically engaged and socially active in the Philadelphia area," Nutter wrote. He called the piece "pathetic" and said it didn't rise "to the level of journalism."

He also called for a "rebuke" of the magazine and writer, Bob Huber, saying that while he recognizes the 1st Amendement protects "the media from censorship by the government," free speech is "not an unfettered right."

"I ask the Commission to evaluate whether the 'speech' employed in this essay is not the reckless equivalent of 'shouting, "fire!" in a crowded theater,' its prejudiced, fact-challenged generalizations an incitement to extreme reaction," Nutter wrote.

Is the mayor questioning whether this story should be protected by the 1st Amendment? And if so ... what does that mean for the magazine?

The Mayor's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The commission said it will go ahead with Nutter's requests.

Tom McGrath, the editor of the magazine story, responded to Nutter's letter in a statement:

"I applaud the mayor for asking for an inquiry into the state of racial issues in Philadelphia. The need to have a deeper discussion about race in our city is exactly why we ran our story in the first place.

"Like any reader, the mayor is entitled to think and say what he wants about the story. That said, his sophomoric statements about the magazine and mischaracterization of the piece make me wonder if he's more interested in scoring political points than having a serious conversation about the issues. Furthermore, his call for a "rebuke" of the magazine by the PHRC is rich with irony. This is the same mayor who just yesterday was shouted down by an unruly mob in City Council; now he himself wants shut down conversation about an important issue in our city. In short, the mayor loves the First Amendment - as long as he and the government can control what gets said."

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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