Train Wreck of a Meal…



From Jeff Cox

When I took the job as restaurant reviewer for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat in 1993, one of my first reviews was of a restaurant called La Gare [located in Railroad Square], a supposedly French restaurant with execrable food, and I gave the place a royal pan [titled “Train Wreck of a Meal”]. Turned out that it was Sonoma County’s long-standing favorite restaurant—the kind of place you went to with your parents and then your kids. The community flew into a rage. I was vilified. I was pilloried. The phones at the newspaper rang off the hook. They told me they hadn’t had so many critical letters to the editor ever. People threatened to cancel their subscriptions.

A few days later I was in the editorial offices and met Mike Parman, the editor-in-chief, now deceased. He looked at me in that hard-boiled way of editors-in-chief and said, “You only got one thing wrong, Cox. The service sucks, too.”

I was elated to know that the editor stood behind me, and that emboldened me to tell the truth as I saw it for the next 1000+ restaurants I reviewed over the next 22 years, until the paper finally fired me from the position. Hey, it was a good run.

But it makes me sad for the hack reportage that passes for journalism in re Donald Trump. If, as an editor once said, it’s the job of the journalist to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, I see an abject failure to put Mr. Trump into the proper context. This buffoon should have his feet held to the fire of truth and justice. To be objective about Donald Trump is to see his faults for what they are: deep psychological, personal, and social flaws that exhibit chicanery not leadership.

Why are our media letting us down? I could theorize, but I won’t. I’ll just say that the principles of journalism that drew me into my life’s work seem to have stopped operating.


I read a story once, years ago, about an investigative reporter. He was at the records office looking up material for a story and saw something odd that caught his interest. He followed up, found more, and the story he wrote was about something different from what he was originally working on.
It seems that a lot of government grants were going into a small town and it just seemed odd. When he went to the “town” it turned out to be and intersection of two dirt roads out in the Boonies and that’s all. There wasn’t even a sign at the corner. The Mayor of a nearby small town and his cronies were found responsible for a scam that had been ongoing for about a decade. If it hadn’t been for one investigative reporter, it might still be going strong.
We don’t have many real reporters anymore, and those we have run the risk of being discounted as “Conspiracy Theorists”.

Jeff, I have faithfully followed your column, up until the time they “let you go.” I agree, Journalistic standards have fallen by the wayside, and since ALL of the major networks are controlled by Big Biz, I don’t see an end to this sloppy, erroneous, and often cavalier attitude towards what counts as today’s “News.”
Bernie Sanders repeatedly draws tens of thousands to his rallies, while Hillary attracts dismally-sized crowds, but who gets all the attention? Trump!
It’s so revenue-driven that it makes me want to puke, as if I had gotten Ptomaine poisoning from a lousy meal at one of our most-celebrated restaurants. Which I have, BTW…
Well, enough vitriol, I hope you made a happy landing at some other journalistic enterprise, but I definitely bemoan the lack of SERIOUS Journalism, on the MSM, most daily papers, and especially “talk radio.”