Mitch Perry Report 8.2.13 - Eric Deggans goes national (full time)

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There was a slew of news on Thursday: Edward Snowden finally getting out of ... wherever he's been holed up somewhere in a Moscow airport; Tony Bennett being the latest Rick Scott official to leave his post unceremoniously; Duke Energy pulling the plug on the Crystal River nuclear plant; and attorney John Fitzgibbons calling on Bob Buckhorn to have someone conduct an investigation into the Tampa Police Department's DUI dept.

But the story that means the most to this page is the announcement that Eric Deggans will be departing from the Tampa Bay Times to become NPR's full-time television critic beginning in October.

Simply put, Eric is one of the best pop culture writers and commentators in the country, and has been for years. His intelligence and style have always made him a must read, or a "must-listen," if you will, when he was commenting on TV or radio.

But what has distinguished Eric from most mainstream critics is his emphasis on writing about race in the media. One of the more interesting local panel discussions was one that he convened in St. Pete in the aftermath of the Don Imus imbroglio in 2007. Remember that? That's when the "I-man," a regular morning presence at the time on MSNBC in the morning — despite the fact that Imus and his producer Bernard McGuirk regularly made insulting comments about blacks that got little traction in mainstream media — got suspended and then fired for comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team (hardly the most egregious remarks he'd ever made, but offensive nevertheless). It was a lively and stimulating discussion, and I was glad I was there to cover it.

I contacted Eric weeks before his book Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation came out last fall to tell him I wanted to write about him and the book. (You might recall we featured that piece as a cover story last fall, and Eric told us yesterday that the Todd Bates cover shot was the one being passed around on Twitter). In my story I said that Eric had the ability to raise our consciousness, and I'd say that's what he's done on a consistent basis throughout his storied 18-year career at the Times. He'll be stellar at NPR.

Okay, now on to the news that I got around to writing about yesterday.The Tampa City Council spent considerable time acknowledging that its code enforcement department hasn't been cutting it — for years, its critics contend. The council was filled with ideas on how to improve the department going forward, but the public undoubtedly remains skeptical.

On Wednesday night, a town hall meeting/fast paced brain storming session was held in Tampa, where the topic was all about generating ideas to improve Tampa Bay.

And sort of still a big deal for me: Our beloved San Francisco Giants are in St. Petersburg to play the Rays in a weekend series for only the second time in the history of the two franchises. The Giants were honored by President Obama at the White House on Monday, despite the fact that they're in danger of having the worst record after winning the World Series since the 1998 Florida (now Miami) Marlins. The Rays continue to be one of the hottest clubs running, and should stomp all over the world champs. Right? I'm excited nevertheless for this series...

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