Patterico's Pontifications

2/18/2012

Greg Packer’s Biggest Win Ever

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:29 am

Today is a very special day, friends. It is the day when two historical themes of this blog finally intersect.

Theme 1: This blog has diligently chronicled the intrepid quest of Greg Packer to become America’s Man on the Street. He is the man of whom Mickey Kaus once said: “Greg Packer will not be not quoted.” Packer’s indomitable spirit — and his knack for coming up with exactly what the lazy reporter wants to hear, even if it’s not always precisely, well, true — are an inspiration to all of us here at Patterico.com.

Theme 2: This blog has also made something of a career out of being a watchdog over the Los Angeles Times.

Today, for the very first time, my friends . . . these two worlds collide.

The setting, although it really doesn’t matter, is Newark, N.J., the scene of Whitney Houston’s funeral. I will turn it over to Tina Susman of the L.A. Times:

But fans, like Greg Packer — who woke up before dawn and drove about an hour from his home in Huntington, N.Y., to Newark — were kept far away from the church.

Packer, who arrived at the public-spectator area at 7:30 a.m., was among the first there.

“It’s important to be out here with the fans, amongst the fans,” said Packer, who was dismayed that no public service had been arranged.

At least, he said, the city could have offered a big screen somewhere for people to watch the proceedings. “They should have allowed everyone to see it.”

You tell ‘em, Greg!

Greg also scored with AFP, although that encounter does not hold the same attraction for me:

Saturday’s private service is meant to be a homecoming and celebration of Houston’s astonishing career, though some fans had hoped for a large public memorial event at a nearby stadium and were angry at being held back.

“It’s a disgrace,” said Greg Packer. “All the streets have been blocked, it is very difficult to come here. The family should have done a public memorial, something.”

Always the right quote; always at the right time — and always, always at the right place.

Greg Packer, you are indeed the man. On the street.

High five!

UPDATE: Our own Bradley J. Fikes speaks up for the reporter in this comment.

66 Responses to “Greg Packer’s Biggest Win Ever”

  1. At the risk of sounding like I am exaggerating, I just have to say: this is the greatest day in the history of the world.

    Patterico (13e9ba)

  2. The quintessential Hollywood story is addicts and their enablers.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  3. Is this Greg Packer? Video interview while waiting 4 days for first Iphone.

    It is amazing that he generates all of these quotes. Not somebody who stands out in a crowed (unless he is one of two people in line).

    BfC (2ebea6)

  4. sometimes when pop stars die I feel sadness in my heart but not always

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  5. Why anyone would get up early on a nonwork day and drive across the NY metro area to dreary Newark(Welcome to Newark-making East New York and Bed Stuy look hospitable for over a century!) on a quiet beautiful spring-like morning to stare at a funeral procession of someone they neither knew nor loved escapes me. And then bitch when “they” block the streets.

    Packer could go for a jog or a bike ride.

    Packer could go get bagels for himself and his family(though I dobubt any decent companionship would have anything to do with him).

    Packer could simply sleep in.

    Pathos, thy name is Greg Packer.

    Bugg (34ad0e)

  6. Is it possible that, like the chimpanzees in ‘Rise Against The Planet of The Apes’, reporters like Tina Susman are getting smarter? Her article is ‘linked’, and her work will get more hits, and come time for her performance review she might get a 4% raise instead of the 2.2% average raise at LAT.

    What am I saying, who cares? I am loving me some Greg Packer!! He is the man. On the street. High five!

    TimesDisliker (d41d23)

  7. He has trophies…for his game face alone…

    He bowls…overhand…

    He’s…the most interesting man in the world…

    bobdog (166386)

  8. “Amongst” the fans? That didn’t set off warning bells in the MSM flack’s brain?

    Also, there is this thing called “Google.” And you think they would check, since my understanding is that interviewed people sign release forms…

    Thanks for a funny, funny Saturday AM post, Patterico!

    Simon Jester (99e7fb)

  9. Tina is a really dedicated reporter, who I know from my college newspaper days. So I’m really sad for her. It’s not typical of her career by any means.

    Tina survived being kidnapped by Somali militants, a serious truck accident in Pakistan and various other hazards of Middle East reporting. But her background didn’t prepare her for Greg Packer.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (1a7359)

  10. You mean, when I google “Greg Packer” and the VERY FIRST listing is:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_Packer

    Where was the fact-checking again?

    Which brings us back to the Gell-Mann Theory of Selective Amnesia (as described by the much missed Michael Crichton). We are reading the paper and come across an article on a topic about which we know a great deal. The article is dead wrong. We snort, saying to ourselves, “What do they know about it?” Then we turn the page and take the next article seriously.

    Sigh.

    Simon Jester (99e7fb)

  11. Perhaps journalists are just as thrilled to find Greg Packer at the location of their story as we are to read about him.

    Can you imagine how Tina’s heart might have skipped a beat when she spotted him in the crowd?

    MayBee (081489)

  12. Simon,
    This may be simply the result of a bonehead Tribune editor selecting the wrong reporter. It’s hard to believe Tina actually wanted that vapid assignment.

    Tina’s skill set is attuned to matters of life and death, and not avoiding being pranked. Some celebrity reporter would have been better suited to the task.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (1a7359)

  13. Bradley – Which is worse, Somali warlords or Greg Packer?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  14. daley,
    I’m better at avoiding Greg Packer than is Tina, but she’s got the advantage in dealing with the Somali warlords.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (1a7359)

  15. MayBee, that would suggest a level of humor and lack of self-importance that I sincerely doubt we will find in much of the MSM (with apologies to Bradley).

    And it is always nice to see your posts, ma’am.

    Simon Jester (99e7fb)

  16. Packer is a master at his game. And with his own Wiki page, what more is there to conquer!

    Reading Bradley’s link on Susman, & reading her bio, it would indeed appear that this assignment might be a bit of an anomaly, or maybe she just wanted something easy.

    Dana (4eca6e)

  17. Bradley, sorry to chide a friend of yours. But she should have at least Googled the name, you know? I will bet her ears are burning now.

    So maybe—just maybe—other journalists will be on the lookout.

    I know she will, but I doubt others will.

    Simon Jester (99e7fb)

  18. Dana, that is indeed ironic, that having gone through so much overseas, Tina gets tripped up by a relatively minor failing.

    Simon, I generally agree with you about the MSM; it’s just that I know that this particular reporter has real substance.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (1a7359)

  19. I’m with MayBee. Reporters know who he is. A vapid assignment deserves a quote from someone that is guaranteed to deliver vapidity.

    Icy (f0b359)

  20. Susman should be telling us about the latest taxpayer funded vacation of Mrs. Obama – ski trip to the winter playground of the rich and famous, Aspen, instead of getting punked by Packer.

    Dana (4eca6e)

  21. Icy,
    Most American reporters know who Greg Packer is, I think, because of periodic warnings from editors. Packer is one of those quirks of American celebrity culture. A reporter who has lived for years outside this country as a foreign correspondent may not know.

    I know about Packer because I follow this blog. Other reporters aren’t so fortunate. ;)

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (1a7359)

  22. You’d think a guy who seems to spend every waking minute plotting to get his face in front of a microphone would at least try to come up with something worth saying.

    Wait, no, keep it simple Greg. It’s better that way.

    Ghost (6f9de7)

  23. Awww, thank you Simon.

    Icy- you know what would be amazing? To fabricate a Greg Packer quote.

    MayBee (081489)

  24. Or have other “Greg Packer”s interviewed across the country.

    To borrow from Glenn Reynolds: “A Nation of Packers.”

    Um.

    Simon Jester (99e7fb)

  25. No disrespect to Tina, Brother Brad. I’m just saying that regardless of whether or not she knew who he was she probably took his comment in stride because the fourth person in line most likely said something equally inane.

    Icy (f0b359)

  26. Wonder what the over/under would be on Packer standing, on-line, at his own funeral?

    Colonel Haiku (4e6137)

  27. Icy,
    No worries. I just wanted to give some perspective on her background. She’s probably groaning in embarrassment over her lapse.

    And more perspective: Being Packered is far less serious than being deliberately misleading.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (1a7359)

  28. Bradley,

    I don’t blame the reporter, either, when it comes to newspapers that are supposed to have editors. It’s great if the reporter can see through every glory-seeker they encounter, but in today’s world too many people want their moment of fame.

    I could certainly be wrong because I’ve never worked for a newspaper, but my impression is reporters gather information and write stories and editors review them. I assume editors focus on grammar, spelling, making each article a tight story, avoiding defamation, etc., but aren’t they also supposed to catch people like Packer?

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  29. Jason Blair was able to give them what they want too.

    [note: fished from spam filter. --Stashiu]

    AZ Bob (1c9631)

  30. DRJ,
    You are absolutely right, editors are supposed to catch such things. I regularly make mistakes that my editors fix. We have one copy editor in particular who is a true goalie. He reads for content and context, not just to make sure the spelling, grammar and style are correct.

    So in this case, the editing system broke down. I would guess this is because there are fewer editors at the Tribune Co., so they have less time to examine each story.

    But with the LA Times, even when they had those four layers of editors, blatant inaccuracies got past them. That’s what happens when journalists are more concerned with making stories fit their lefty worldview than being accurate.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (1a7359)

  31. Back in 2008, Patterico had a post where he said he was going to try to get Greg Packer to be a part of his blog, to get is take on current events. I guess that didn’t happen.

    Mr. Patterico, were you able to contact him? Can you tell that story?

    Pious Agnostic (40011c)

  32. The next holiday will be-” dead users day”.

    sickofrinos (44de53)

  33. Picture of Tina

    Paul A'Barge (b0bfce)

  34. Good to see that notoriety has not stopped reporters from quoting Greg Packer!

    Bruce (e40484)

  35. Here’s a deceptive and/or ignorant story, this one from the Wall Street Journal. Much worse than being taken in by Greg Packer.

    Vegetarian Doctors Go Whole Hog to Burn Bacon in Iowa
    Festival to Serve Up 3 Tons of Fatty Strips; ‘Baconpocolypse Now’

    By JEANNETTE NEUMANN
    On Saturday, pork aficionados will meet up in Des Moines, Iowa, for the fifth annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival, billed as America’s “premier” bacon celebration.

    The event, which sold out all 4,000 tickets in 25 minutes, offers something to make every swine lover swoon: unlimited bacon samples, a bacon-eating contest, educational lectures, a bacon-themed songwriting contest and crowning of a new bacon queen. Organizers plan to serve up about three tons of the fatty strips.

    They’re also prepared for a bit of oinking from outsiders.

    A group of vegetarian doctors has been skewering Iowans over the event for months. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, says he wants to publicize the flip side of bacon.

    He says the PCRM plans to hand out fliers with warnings about how bacon “rotting in your mouth” potentially has various health risks, including cancer and diabetes. . .

    PCRM is not a “vegetarian” outfit, it’s vegan. And it’s no more a group of doctors than the Union of Concerned Scientists is a group of scientists. PCRM is an offshoot of PETA, and its real agenda is PETA’s animal rights agenda, not the pretended one of human health.

    Dr. Barnard, btw, is a psychiatrist, so brandishing his medical credentials is misleading.

    None of that is in the WSJ article.

    I debunked some of Neal Barnard’s PETA propaganda several years ago.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (1a7359)

  36. I’m changing my fake name from “John Galt” to “Greg Packer”.

    Woody (dbeb00)

  37. What a selfish twat. The family should have provided big screen TVs to show the “masses”?

    He could have stayed home and watched it on Fox News. In the comfort of his own home. In his easy chair with a beer even.

    As I didn’t want to watch it, I stayed off Fox and watched movies instead. Hangover II and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

    kimsch (2a7c0d)

  38. Yes, DRJ and Brother Bradley, editors are not only supposed to be proofreaders on grammar and punctuation, but also ask questions or correct content.

    If Tina was out of the country for a time, it IS understandable that she would not have known.

    Nonetheless, it’s pretty darn funny that the worlds collided. A good day for Patterico, indeed.

    Anita Busch (a025dd)

  39. There’s no place left to go. It’s the perfect joke.

    PatAZ (2c3538)

  40. I agree, Anita. This isn’t about one reporter or person getting scammed: Who hasn’t had that happen at some point in life? This is about the newspaper world’s most notorious “man on the street” vs a big-city newspaper that holds itself out as one of America’s best … and look who won.

    That Patterico has been warning about them both for years makes this karma that much sweeter.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  41. Patterico gets cred from LA Observed.

    Los Angeles Times watcher Patrick Frey, who blogs as Patterico, has been waiting years for America’s most-quoted so-called “man on the street” to finally break into the pages of his favorite (not) newspaper . . . In Times staff writer Tina Susman’s report today from the Whitney Houston funeral in New Jersey, Packer conquers another. . .

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (1a7359)

  42. Perhaps it is time to elevate this guy to a verb.
    “to packer”–and of the reporter victim, we would say he/she has “been packered”.

    It is rather surprising that Greg seems to have no competitors. You’d think that other people might be seeking to get his celebrity. Or maybe he’s managed to fend off all competitors in his quest to become the MSM’s go-to guy for idiotic observations.

    JBS (827a72)

  43. Jason Blair gave the NY Times what it wanted.

    [note: fished from spam filter. --Stashiu]

    AZ Bob (1c9631)

  44. Jason Blair was Greg Packer.

    [note: fished from spam filter. --Stashiu]

    AZ Bob (1c9631)

  45. This harmonic convergence is kind of like the day Ace’s longrunning “but mostlY” terrorist-mocking jokes finally paid off big time (warning: strong NSFW language in headline). Pretty funny stuff.

    no one you know (577ce5)

  46. In defense of the LAT reporter, how many reporters does the LAT have on the east coast? One to three would be my guess. It may be that Tina drew the short straw and was happy to run into someone who was quotable.

    I have to admit it is pretty funny that he keeps getting quoted. Rock on Greg Packer!!!!

    Ipso Fatso (7434b9)

  47. Tina is a really dedicated reporter

    Yeah. “I know this reporter, but hey… Don’t look at me like that. she’s not like all the others!”

    Brett Kimberlin (5138a0)

  48. Oops. Had my sockpuppet thread costume on. Sorry.

    Kevin R.C. O'Brien (5138a0)

  49. ______________________________________________

    But with the LA Times, even when they had those four layers of editors, blatant inaccuracies got past them.

    But now with the financial condition of businesses like the LA Times being what it is, I wonder how much more stressed out is the accuracy of news coverage. Not to mention most editors, including at the LA Times, undoubtedly favor the idea that folks like “Greg Packer” are wonderful, tolerant, humane, generous, sophisticated liberals who always have been and always will be happily affiliated with the Democrat Party. So media people therefore are forced — FORCED! — against their will to shape their articles accordingly.

    But, of course, the MSM is not necessarily slanted to the left because much of it is owned by (drum roll, please!) big, wealthy Republicans!

    Mark (411533)

  50. _______________________________________________

    the scene of Whitney Houston’s funeral.

    FWIW, a story involving a death that possibly wasn’t even due to an accident but was intentional on the part of the deceased. The nature of the story is interesting because of how it probably combines people’s (or a community’s) ideology, sociology and theology, including the off-shoots of human sexuality (certainly in this age of same-sex marriage and GLBT!), race and economics.

    Mark (31bbb6)

  51. That’s what happens when journalists are more concerned with making stories fit their lefty worldview than being accurate.

    Comment by Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. — 2/18/2012 @ 1:10 pm

    Just like Jayson Blair gave the NY Times stories that fit their world view.

    [note: fished from spam filter. --Stashiu]

    AZ Bob (1c9631)

  52. That’s what happens when journalists are more concerned with making stories fit their lefty worldview than being accurate.

    Comment by Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. — 2/18/2012 @ 1:10 pm

    Yes.

    AZ Bob (1c9631)

  53. Like Jayson Blair.

    [note: fished from spam filter. --Stashiu]

    AZ Bob (1c9631)

  54. Mark,
    Greg Packer is not a political manifestation of the media’s left-wing biases. He’s an example of how reporters can be conned by taking advantage of how they operate.

    Packer is media-savvy to which events will bring out the journalists, he positions himself so they’ll see him, and satisfies them with innocuous Everyman quotes so they can make their deadlines.

    I admire Packer’s skill in getting quoted, and it’s something reporters need to heed.

    Thankfully for reporters on the Left Coast, Packer appears to be an East Coast phenomenon. If Houston had been buried in California, Tina probably wouldn’t have encountered Packer.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (e1892b)

  55. Journalists are easy to con because they have been conned from the very beginnings of their education. They are taught that they are 1)”special” because only journalists can be
    2)”objective” and report the news without bias. Pure bullshit right from the start.

    This breeds an elistist mindset along with a herd mentality…an astonishingly poor combination.

    bill (d8a39b)

  56. The LAT’s Packering made Romenesko! Post includes a linky here.

    “I’d never heard of the guy,” reporter Susman tells Romenesko readers in an email, “and apparently none of my editors out in LA (where I’ve never worked myself) have heard of him either — or at least he’s not high enough on their radar to flag his name … I’ve been overseas most of my career so probably a bit out of the loop on the guy.”

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (a18ddc)

  57. Ridiculous. I’m on the East Coast, and had heard of this guy only vaguely. Tina Susman was out of the country until 2009. There was no reason she should have been on the lookout for his name.

    I’m embarrassed by the twits commenting here. It’s not standard practice for reporters to Google the names of people on the street that they quote. Nor do reporters get “releases” from people they interview.

    anon (984cb5)

  58. 1 – get awesome quote from man on street.
    2 – google his name.

    Really, is that so hard?

    carlitos (49ef9f)

  59. Really, are you a working reporter, or just a moron who likes to take potshots from the sidelines?

    anon (984cb5)

  60. carlitos,
    Ideally, a reporter would Google and establish the identities of all interviewed. But on a deadline story, which most stories are, you’re not going to have time for that in all cases. You look for obvious signs of deception, and potentially libelous material. And the kind of MOS quotes Packer gives are pretty mundane.

    Being Packered is pretty minor in the grand scheme of journalistic failings. When the grosser abuses are mostly cleared up, then we can get worked up about being Packered.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (a18ddc)

  61. I realize that she was a great singer and died in tragic circumstances, but I was a little surprised to see the funeral telecast live on a cable television channel.

    In Canada.

    carlitos (49ef9f)

  62. “anon,” I won’t be responding to you.

    Fair points, Bradley. Obviously, he knows how to give mundane points in such a way that he’s been quoted so much. It’s just that there is a prominent West Coast blogger who for years has published “the year in review” about the LA Times, blogs specifically about media bias, and posts every example of Packering that pops up. As noted above, he was even seeking Packer to do a column here.

    Given all that, I was a tiny bit surprised that LA Times editors wouldn’t be aware of the guy.

    carlitos (49ef9f)

  63. Not googling the names of their interviewees is what leads to reporters using “random concerned voter” quotes that come from partisans, campaign workers and union bosses. That’s a little more serious than the Packering of a funeral story.

    carlitos (49ef9f)

  64. quotes that come from partisans, campaign workers and union bosses. That’s a little more serious

    I agree. Those stories matter, and letting someone insert propaganda into them is bad journalism. But what the line outside Houston’s funeral is not very important. It makes no difference if Greg Packer offers the man on the street view of something like this.

    I guess my observation here comes from a lifetime of seeing journalism become less and less important, in and of itself. To someone who thinks this is a serious field these days, perhaps it makes sense to verify even these less important stories, but to me… I had no such expectations.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  65. Given all that, I was a tiny bit surprised that LA Times editors wouldn’t be aware of the guy.

    I agree. Tina has the excuse of being out of the country for much of the last two decades; the LAT editors do not.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (a18ddc)

  66. I’m sure the reporter is very nice.

    But if the engineering firm I work for tolerated the slipshod editing, unverified facts, distortion, and downright fabrication that this one does, bridges would be dropping all over the country.

    There simply is no excuse for this.

    Amphipolis (e01538)


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