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SaportaReport explains dismissal of Maynard Eaton

Note to readers: On Thursday, we made the painful decision to part ways with Maynard Eaton, who has been writing a column for us since last October. It was not a decision we made lightly.

After his latest column on the Fulton County Solicitor’s race, we were contacted by Shaunya Chavis-Rucker, the wife of candidate Clint Rucker. It came to our attention that Eaton contacted the campaign about providing positive communications for the campaign for a fee. They did not engage Eaton.  Afterwards, Eaton wrote a column about the race, which Chavis-Rucker felt reflected an unfounded bias against her husband.  The  column also included inaccurate information about their employment status with Fulton County.

We were so concerned about a possible violation of our ethical standards that we took down the column while we investigated the circumstances. Regrettably, we found out that Eaton has been let go from other news organizations for similar ethical lapses – the blurring of journalism with political communications consulting.

After we informed him of our decision, Eaton engaged with Chavis-Rucker on her Facebook page (posts that have since been removed), writing:

Shaunya you are a liar and kurupt professional with no portfolio no cachet a and no common sense you should be fired for profiting from The Fulton County taxpayers for campaigning for your Monster husband

The tone of that post does not reflect who we are at SaportaReport. We believe in treating every one with respect and with a sense of fairness. It was not the first time Eaton had responded unprofessionally to concerns about his reporting.

Maynard Eaton Al Bartell

Campaign advice by political pundit Eaton to Mayoral Candidate Al Bartell in 2013 (Photo from press release announcing rally)

It has come to our attention that Eaton and former Atlanta mayoral candidate Al Bartell will hold a press conference and rally protesting the dismissal. In light of that development, we felt we needed to be as transparent as possible about what happened. In the email announcing the rally, a photo of Eaton and Bartell is included with a caption that says: Campaign advice by political pundit Eaton to Mayoral Candidate Al Bartell in 2013.

During his time with us, Eaton wrote some excellent columns – bringing a needed perspective of great Atlantans from many walks of life. We pledge to do all we can to continue offering in depth stories of people and issues reflecting our multi-dimensional community.

But we will do so by maintaining our ethical standards and by treating every one with the dignity they deserve.

Thank you for being readers of SaportaReport.

Maria Saporta, founder and editor; and David Pendered, managing editor

 

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

10 replies
  1. Dargan From Dunwoody says:

    I disagree with the decision to separate from Maynard as he has brought a journalistic perspective to issues that are important to the black business community and the HBCU communities as well. As one door closes another will open. Maynard has many supporters throughout the Atlanta community and especially at Morehouse College. A quick example of what Maynard has done to promote the alumnus of Morehouse College is evident in the clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9PManZQo_I&ab_channel=ClydeBradleyReport

    Reply
  2. shelley wynter says:

    I came to the saporta report through my friend Maynard Eaton. I thought he was brought on to give the report viable access to the Black power structure of Atlanta which includes politicians, preachers and activists. He was the Black content provider. He brought some artists for cultural stories. He brought civil rights icons and their dinners of praise. But then he reached out to a story that would intrigue any 1st year journalist as a bigger local story about a current campaign, A low interest, low down the ticket Solicitor General race was shaping up to be a battle Royale and a race of big importance to the County. Rumors are swirling about Paul Howard resigning after his next term and moving Rucker in to place to succeed him. This was palace intrigue. An “outsider” raising money challenging the established order. So in to this rode Maynard and his pen. he pissed off the wife and she went after Maynard’s livelihood to silence him for she knows her husband is vulnerable due to his overcharging in the teachers case under RICO and not getting an indictment in the east point MARTA cop shooting. SO Mrs. Saporta,  this firing has nothing to do with Maynard for you knew who Maynard was before you hired him. He is a writer who works on campaigns,. Good writers do it all the time It is what is wrong with your profession. I know this because in an effort to influence your readers you have sponsored content under the heading of “Thought Leaders”. Now of course we know they are paid spots but the reader who clicks on it is reading a” thought leader”. But that would not be considered unethical? would it? 15 years ago when magazines started these “special” sections many media specialists saw them as straddling the line and bringing state to close to church. (business to editorial). Now Maynard is fired for what Jeff Dickenson and Phil Kent and Matt Towery do every month and every Sunday. But the larger issue is why an editor did not stand up to an angry candidate’s wife and ask her to write a response. Make it a discussion on your sight. and every read would have been a click, Why fire him and will you fire Baxter if he writes critically of The Mayor? You have lost credibility with me as I understand what I read here is just good PR stories for the city and the metro area, not critical discourse of the powers that be. And that is fine but don’t make it seem like Maynard did anything different than what your business plan is or did anything different than what other “thought leaders” are doing all around the city. Which is the larger bigger piece and is why only 8% of people nationally trust the media. and its largely because you cave to the special interests and sponsors and never defend the writer, the only question that should have been asked of Mrs Chavis-Rucker and her Husband was “Is it true” Are you still working for the tax payers as you campaign for your husband? If not, retract. if so, hire maynard back. Thank you.Report

    Reply
  3. CS says:

    ” Eaton contacted the campaign about providing positive communications for the campaign for a fee.”
    ” The column also included inaccurate information about their employment status with Fulton County.”
    “… we investigated the circumstances. Regrettably, we found out that Eaton
    has been let go from other news organizations for similar ethical
    lapses – the blurring of journalism with political communications
    consulting”
    “..It was not the first time Eaton had responded unprofessionally to concerns about his reporting.”
    I would expect an editorial to also present specific examples/corroboration for these statements. As a layman, I would expect that as a part of “ethical standards” in reporting by Mr. Eaton, Mr. Pendered, and Ms. SaportaReport

    Reply
  4. Burroughston Broch says:

    Maria, while you focus on this subject, what about Saba Long and Obelisk Strategies? Obelisk is not mentioned on her CV for this site or on her LinkedIn CV, but I hear Saba is involved and is advising Peter Aman.Report

    Reply
  5. RobinLigon says:

    I am very proud of my champion, award winning veteran journalist MAYNARD EATON, as well as Atlanta community leaders for coming out today to support him after he was fired from the Saporta Report last week.
    Ironically, as you may recall, Eaton wrote an article, “OSOGBO: Art and Heriitage and Controversy” in the same magazine three months ago when I left Fulton County, after successfully spearheading the new Aviation Community Cultural Center. Eaton accurately reported that I was fired unjustly from that position with no justifiable reason being offered by Fulton County administrators.
    As stated in today’s BLACK MEDIA MATTERS press conference, when people speak truth to power they get their programs or their voices shut down, and that’s exactly what has happened to both of us.
    I am forever grateful for Maynard Eaton’s passion and unyielding dedication to his craft, and to the humanity of his approach. Most of all, I admire and appreciate his integrity in telling the truth, even when it’s not the popular opinion or politically correct choice .
    The article that was written on my behalf was an excellent example and truly speaks to the quality of journalist that Maynard Eaton really is. I know that he will move on to accomplish greater things in the Atlanta market and on a national level .Report

    Reply
  6. Dargan From Dunwoody says:

    shelley wynter Now that the press conference has taken place we can hear directly from Maynard what happen. Here it its : https://youtu.be/qOxB7BIlq9AReport

    Reply
  7. maegentry says:

    I’m sorry to read this, Maria. You and David did the right thing. There are many great black journalists in Atlanta. I hope you find someone who can do the job with honesty and integrity.Report

    Reply
  8. SpaceyG says:

    OMG – I am loving this Atlanta total indie media meltdown clusterf*ck! Let it all come out; somebody’s gotta get a payment from someone. Whether it be Maynard Eaton’s outright shakedown racket of nice-words-for-pay to Maria Saporta being funded by MARTA to placements in Peach Pundit by appropriately aligned parties to Matthew Cardinale’s bold and obvious agendas. Otherwise y’all wouldn’t keep banging keyboards anywhere out there. Where you all went off the rails was when you tried to pass off your stuff as “journalism.” Please. 
    And while we’re at it, let’s all take a moment to recognize the boldly compromised leadership in these murky, transparency-deficient media matters provided for decades now by Jeff Dickerson and Phil Kent. Way to go, boys! This media mess is your legacy.Report

    Reply

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