Cincinnati's hate affair with its artistic directors

March 23, 2009 at 02:29 AM ·

Is it any wonder that professional news agencies are failing everywhere? But the award goes to the Cincinnati Enquirer: to publish someone's sobriety test on the Internet is a new low. The guy passed out  at an intersection. If he's guilty of drunken driving, he should be punished as according to law. And no doubt, it's something that the paper will write about. But to use police videos for public humiliation is crass sensationalism, designed to make an arts leader look bad.

Then again, this is the city that arrested its modern art museum director.

Replies (40)

March 23, 2009 at 02:53 AM ·

“There are lives at stake; you could kill someone...."

Sorry Laurie, I don't know how someone could protest the story (the fact that it appears on the Internet is irrelevant because all news now does). As the quote from the article says, he could easily have killed someone. Surely you're aware that half of all traffic fatalities in the US are caused by drunk drivers.

Do you know anyone who's been killed by a drunk driver? If you did, I think you would change your tune. It seems that around here, it happens all the time. Some jerk takes out a family or all of his buddies crammed in his car. 

People who drive drunk should do jail time.


March 23, 2009 at 03:05 AM ·

Sure, but since when are people's sobriety tests put on public display? I'm not saying the guy shouldn't have been arrested or put through what trial/punishment he'll be put through.

March 23, 2009 at 12:34 PM ·

L, you are standing in defense of the indefensible.

New low? What on earth are you talking about? When people are accused, the papers write about it. My little town puts all sorts of stuff in the "Police Blotter" and the juicier pieces find their way in to the NY Times.

In case you hadn't noticed, we live in a democratic country. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law--and all are subject to exposure by the Free Press. I don't feel sorry for the guy. He screwed up and as he is not my friend, I don't even have any sympathy. I don't sympathize with drunk drivers.

Sensationalism. Humiliation? Sorry, he *did a bad thing* and so he gets exposed.

I am buying a subscription to that paper. Seems like a good one to me.

March 23, 2009 at 04:29 AM ·

My Mom was whacked by a drunk driver 20 years ago.  It was awful.  She lived, thank goodness.  I have strong personal feelings about drunk driving, obviously. 

I don't think putting the field test on the internet is crass sensationalism.  DUI is a very serious crime, with thousands of people dead or maimed every year.  Newspapers have been publishing breathalyzer counts for decades. 

What a shame for the CSO. 

March 23, 2009 at 04:42 AM ·

March 23, 2009 at 05:31 AM ·

It's how my grandfather died, actually, a head-on collision with a drunk driver on a two-lane highway. I don't drink. I certainly don't advocate drunken driving. In my experience, people are complete hypocrites about this.

March 23, 2009 at 05:22 AM ·

"If you're driving drunk you shouldn't be entitled to any civil liberties in my opinion."

That is the scariest thing I've read today.

March 23, 2009 at 12:54 PM ·

So then what, drunk drivers should not go to jail? They should have liberty?

13,000  people die each year due to drunk driving.

Each year.

And why should drunk drivers be "protected" from public "humiliation" when all that is done is publication of the incident and the facts? We have a fundamental right to a *public* hearing in this country--it is a fundamental part of our jurisprudence. Drunk drivers should have that same right--even if it is embarrassing--it is far preferable to some sort of closed door jurisprudence which would be unconstitutional!

March 23, 2009 at 12:47 PM ·

Bill, respecting civil liberty doesn't mean you never go to jail.  It just means you are given your constitutional protections before you are sent to jail:)

March 23, 2009 at 12:59 PM ·

Uh, Laurie, not everyone is a hypocrite about drunk driving. 

This reminds me of when Bob Huggins got busted for DUI.  His arrest video was also made public.  And he was canned by UC.

March 23, 2009 at 12:59 PM ·

Somehow I don't think Nate was speaking of removing constitutional protections; but Laurie was suggesting that we give accused drunk drivers special privacy when accused--which would be unconstitutional.

March 23, 2009 at 01:07 PM ·

I agree with Mitchell...

Locally, the newspaper did an ongoing beratement of a medical doctor who was accused of being a pill shoppers dream...every day the basically same info was plastered on the front page, complete with photos. When it came to trial the doctor not only won but proved the person who was behind the bad press wanted the real estate where his office was... the newspaper did not report ANYTHING about the innocent verdict whatsoever.

It appears that newspapers are doing whatever they can to sell papers now that the internet and cable TV have taken the market

March 23, 2009 at 03:10 PM ·

March 23, 2009 at 04:30 PM ·

Make no mistake: trial by an international Internet jury of millions is special humiliation.

March 23, 2009 at 04:33 PM ·

The American rule is innocent until proven guilty. I am not in favor of "perp walks", releasing mug shot photos of people who are arrested but not convicted or release of other evidence until a person has his day in court.

I am willing  to apply this rule across the board. I wonder how many people that decry this incident in Cincinatti the same regard for say Rush Limbaugh?

March 23, 2009 at 05:01 PM ·

We'd probably all draw the line on what's appropriate or inappropriate to disclose a little differently.  I don't think  that this case involves excesses in publishing information on the internet.  (This type of reporting about pro athletes is an everyday occurrence).  But even if it does involve excesses, Laurie, isn't that just a small price to pay for the freedom of expression we all enjoy?


March 23, 2009 at 09:57 PM ·

I think all sides have valid points here. The press sells scandal, the more the merrier. Yes, they can and do over do it. Does this violate the accused rights because he hasn't been found guilty yet? Would the paper have done the same thing with Joe the Plummer? Does doing this discourage anyone else from driving drunk? I doubt it. I just wish drunk drivers were slammed in jail automatically for a year after their blood tests came back as over the limit. if you kill someone driving drunk then throw away the key.

Here in St. Louis the baseball Cardinals manager had a similar thing happen to him a few years ago with similar results. Same with a famous St. Louis Rams player who, while driving drunk, killed a young mother. He was caught again and got probation. Their records and tests were plastered all over the media.

Just yesterday, a local female police officer allegedly killed four people when she allegedly drove the wrong way on an interstate colliding with a car coming the other way head on. She allegedly was drunk at the wheel. There, did I use allegedly enough to cover myself?

March 24, 2009 at 12:04 AM ·

Well, drunk driving is in my opinion a very stupid thing to do. You would hope that a person in such high standing would have more common sense than that. 

It is normal that his story will get more coverage than usual, because he is a more well known and respected person than the average Joe. If Joe the Plumber got arrested for drunk driving, well, the general public could probably care less.

March 24, 2009 at 01:02 AM ·

Why shoot the messenger?  What specific law did this Cincinnati newspaper break? 

March 24, 2009 at 01:49 AM ·


Can I point out that on one hand you don't like dirty laundry aired on the Internet for all to see, yet you're perfectly willing to use the Internet and your site to broadcast your own views, even if the topic has nothing to do with violin. You can't have it both ways.


March 24, 2009 at 02:04 AM ·

I don't think that the Cincinnati paper was trying to humiliate Paavo Jarvi because he is in the arts or that their mission is to impune artists reputations.  Any well known figure in that community would face the same scrutiny.  That kind of public humiliation perhaps is a better deterent than a fine or sentence.  I have little respect for someone that drinks so much that he is found passed out in the middle of an intersection.  He reeked of alcohol, slurred his speech, failed a sobriety test and refused a breath test.  In reality Jarvi made a spectacle of himself by acting the way he did in public. So far there is no sign of  contrition on his part.  He is getting what he deserves.  It doesn't matter how he makes his living.

March 24, 2009 at 07:32 AM ·

I don't like this kind of voyeuristic journalism and I don't understand how publicizing the event in this manner adds to the storyline. We all know what a drunk looks like.

March 24, 2009 at 10:25 AM ·

I believe that Laurie is making a good point.   Yes, drunk driving is a serious crime and one which often costs innocent lives, BUT - there's a due process to go through before any alleged drunk driver receives whatever punishment the laws in that country set down for the offence.

That sobriety test video appeared in the press before the individual had even had his first appearance in court.  We don't know the full background to the case, he might have mixed medication with a drink, he might have been sick or he may well turn out to be just another DUI idiot.  However, that's for the police and legal teams to argue in court.  For the newspaper to publish the video beforehand could - well, at least under English law as far as I know - be seen as highly prejudicial to the guy receiving a fair trial...

Any American based attorneys able to comment on this aspect?


March 24, 2009 at 10:35 PM ·

I don't understand how the journalism in this case was voyeuristic.  There was no spying, Jarvi was in a public intersection.  The camaras were there for his protection as well as the protection of the police.  Driving is a privilege and  Jarvi relinquished his privilege when he refused a breath test.  I think it is a legitamate story when a prominant person is found sleeping in his car in the middle of an intersection and voluntarily revokes his right to drive by refusing a breath test. 

March 24, 2009 at 12:19 PM ·

fascinating to see how we look at the incident so differently.

can't help wondering...if the person involved happens to be a patron of the police dept or the newspaper,  would this video ever make it to the public so readily?  there is probably a buddy system between the 2 organizations, thus this win win situation: police looks good doing its job and newspaper catches the sensation.

with highway speeding limit of 65mph where i live, most of the time, i drive over that, at around 75 mph,  pretty much like everyone else.  theoritically, that is a traffic violation and to some, a crime and the nature of which is not much unlike drunk driving, if the implication is that it can kill or raises the probability of doing harm.

hmm, what would i do in a similar situation if i am involved?  with things on tape that cannot be adequately explained by just listening to music, would i hide behind my lawyers and let them spin or would i come out immediately and admit my fault in public before the court date?  


March 24, 2009 at 12:27 PM ·

The video is very disturbing, and Rosalind has some good points. I can't get past my horror that someone could be so out of it (for whatever reason) that he could fall asleep behind the wheel at an intersection. This hits a raw nerve because the person in question is a cherished leader of a cultural institution, and it is painful to see him disgraced. 

March 24, 2009 at 02:12 PM ·

I think the arts aspect is beside the point.

What is most outstanding about this case is the level of support for drunk driving there is! Even from people who lost loved ones to them (Laurie).

Here is a quote from someone who responded to the newspaper article:

"“How many people drink and drive? I mean, everybody. I don’t see it as a big deal."

To me, that is just absurd. First of all, *not* everybody drives after drinking! I certainly don't. I take it seriously. I don't see how we will ever get rid of drunk driving, if we are so fatalistic about it. It isn't about religion, it is about responsible behavior. If you goof off at work, you get fired. If you drive a car drunk, you lose your license. And yet, and yet, there appear to be an awful lot of enablers of utterly reckless behavior out there.

Many beloved artists have been drunks or addicts. Many. I love their music. But that doesn't mean that I would be lenient one iota for them in drunk driving. This country was founded on the premise that we are all *equal* under the law. Period.

March 24, 2009 at 02:40 PM ·

i don't really drink alcohol unless it is the holiday functions so i can't speak for other habitual drinkers. still,  it is OK to drink and drive but not ok to get drunk and drive.  the challenge is, however, right after a party, that distinction may not be easy or convenient to make. couple drinks over a long evening over a meal may not have triggered the threshold of legality, but couple drinks downed into an empty stomach of a tired body in no time can lead to impairment.  if one has gone to the party by oneself, feeling buzzed, it may be a dilemma whether to ask for help to drive home, esp for guys i would think :)

 or, often, it is a matter of being simply too impaired to realize the dilemma.  

March 24, 2009 at 06:01 PM ·

Could I remind everyone that there is only one force in society counteracting corruption, secrecy, and the abuse of power? It's the press. 


While some would call this "voyeurism," I would call it an essential part of a healthy democracy. While some reportage is indeed lurid and without merit, like which stars have the worst beach bodies, who shall be the judge? Does anyone on this forum want less transparency in society? Does anyone want someone else judging for us what we should know?


I remember standing in line at a license bureau behind a guy that had had 3 DIUs and was renewing his license. What amazes me about society is our incredible miscalculations about risk. We wring our hands about terrorists 5000 miles away, yet we allow our fellow citizens to drive while chatting on the phone, and we allow people to drive drunk.

March 24, 2009 at 07:10 PM ·

Very true, Scott.  It will be a sad day if the US ever has government controlled media.  Although without getting overly political, that is beginning to happen.

March 24, 2009 at 11:16 PM ·


>Could I remind everyone that there is only one force in society counteracting corruption, secrecy, and the abuse of power? It's the press. 

Actually I would beg to differ.  There are innumerble NGOs,  pressure groups,  watchdogs, actvists,  writers,  courageous individuals,   and the odd politician who are performing that function.  Often with greater integrity than the media,  which in general is actually more responsive to financial /corporate interests than governments,  since a) they are also corporations and b) having long recognized that the latter are relativley powerless in manipulating what they say and do.



March 25, 2009 at 02:52 AM ·


You're right about the existence of watchdog groups, whistle-blowers, and other non-press entities, but how does the public find out what they have to say? Through the press. How many people actually visit their websites, and read their blogs and position papers? Probably only other specialists. It's the mainstream papers and media outlets that most people are attuned to.


March 25, 2009 at 03:34 AM ·

I in no way said that I support drunk driving! Sheeesh! I just think this extra-special public humiliation is over the top. And I also think that people should be able to serve their time and mend their ways, yes, I suppose I believe in redemption, not locking people away and throwing away the keys. Does that really serve society?

But I'm clearly in the minority! Just don't say I didn't let you have your say.

March 25, 2009 at 04:07 AM ·


Scott,  I think very often the public does not find out from the mainstream press or the verison presented is utterly distorted.  An inter4sting case in the news right now is the focus on the iniquituous publically funded bonuses.  The mainstream media is highlighting these and conveniently not looking at where most of thta huge bailout went and why. 

Hence the existence of alternative media which I think a surprisingly large number of people access.  Another example might be the widespread dissemination of Michael Moores films.   Actually he is rather conservative and non contraversial in my book,  but even the kidn of akward questions he psoes are ignored by the mainstream and yet have achieved global distribution of an extraordinary level.  His movies are watched,  discussed and front shelved at popular rental shops in Japan for example. The Interent has chnaged things a greta deal.

As far as the issue in question is cocnerned I have no sympathy for drunk drivers whatsoever.  There is never any excuse.  The issues of rightsd and justice prior to trial are however crucial and should not be swept under the carpet becuas eof the ignorant stupidity of the crime,  presupposing that was the case.   I also think it ironic that noone has mentioned  one ofthe most widely watched and therefore influential TV programs in the US,  (the one with live police car chases) .  This is a program that has done a great disservice in reinforcing deeply held racial  fears and divides.  Made me wonder if the incident Laurie highlights hasnt served to redress the balance  a tad;)



March 25, 2009 at 04:53 AM ·

Buri, true. I know a heck of a lot of middle- to upper-class folks who seem to think drunk driving laws don't apply to them, and they'll get in the driver's seat without hesitation after a few glasses of wine, or after way, way more. When someone says, "I'd expect this of Britney Spears, not a conductor," that's just ridiculous. Driving home after a quiet, civilized three-martini lunch or dinner is driving drunk, as much as driving home from a raucous party after drinking tequila shots is driving drunk.

Nor do I think it should be illegal to post public video. I just think it's in low taste, whomever it is on film.


March 25, 2009 at 05:49 AM ·


Laurie, this threa dmade me speculate on a related issue that I think is going to crop up more an dmore.    Musicans are at the bottom of the economic spectrum and, as recent articles have noted,  are suffering from depression ,  experiencing severe financial difficulties and so forth.  What do you do when you can`t feed your family?  Beg,  or steal.   I am afraid we are going to be seeing a lot more musicans on the edge resorting to petty crime out of desperation or abusing all the various forms of drugs.  Not necessraily going to be a media splash issue but its a worrying thought.



March 26, 2009 at 01:26 AM ·

I think the public would be willing to forgive Paavo Jarvi if he would show any contritioin.  If Jarvi  makes amends and excepts responsibility for what he did he will find redemption.  The fact that he refused a breath test, flunked a sobriety test, and still maintains his inocence will not bode well for him in the court of public oppinion.  Unless some  evidence comes to light that  explains his behavior and exonerates him I am afraid he might be only adding to his not asking for forgiveness.  Stephen, are you indicating that  Paavo Jarvi did what he did because of economic  desperation?  I doubt he is in dire economic straits.  I also think most musicians are bright and resourceful enough to find ways to survive in this economy without resorting to crime and drugs.  I worry more for the uneducated, unskilled, and disenfranchised. 

March 27, 2009 at 12:01 PM ·

I'm playing with the Cincinnati Symphony this year. (I have no special information here!) But I still read everyday, as my wife and I are returning to New Orleans in the summer. This week they have the video from a city official's traffic stop on the Causeway. He wasn't drunk, but he was using special lights on his car to pass other cars, which evidently he wasn't allowed to do.

The point is, I think this video is an example of how the world changes with new technology. Not a case of singling out a conductor. (Which I'd have nothing agaist anyway, btw ;)  )

Haven't they made entire tv shows out of the video from police stops? (and of people who aren't well-known)


March 27, 2009 at 09:48 PM ·

Scott - contrats.  That's a great orchestra, one of the first orchestras I heard in fact.  I had designs on it myself at one time...

This is no different than other sensational journalism.  I didn't read the story, but entertainers are given a harder time about this sort of thing - they're portrayed and perceived as having it all and a failure gets big air time, and that humiliation feels great to a viewer, like revenge.  Any famous actress, musician, or etc. 

In my state, they're contemplating keeping 911 call recordings away from the media.  Some woman screaming on the phone about her husband just getting his head blown off.  That's as good as it gets for a news show producer.  Someone once complained to me the media was "liberal", but no in fact they're just not especially competent in general. These days it looks like it's progressing from incompetence to malfeasance, given what comes across as love affairs with certain politicians.  It's bad news.  :)


March 27, 2009 at 09:58 PM ·

Technology is a double-edged sword. If it serves justice, it is probably a good thing:

The same technology; but a different celebrity, a different city, and a different outcome. Somehow this situation justifies whatever abuses may have occurred  in the other.

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