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Publisher Bans Talk Show Host from Commenting on Tallahassee.com

Posted on August 25, 2016

Publisher Bans Talk Show Host from Commenting on Tallahassee.com

At the New York Times you get banned from commenting if you threaten violence. Here in Tallahassee, it appears a “business decision” can get you banned from Tallahassee.com

If you tuned into 100.7 WFLA this morning you heard Preston Scott, the host of the Morning Show with Preston Scott, tell his audience that the publisher of the Tallahassee Democrat, Skip Foster, banned him from posting comments on Tallahassee.com.

Foster informed Scott by writing in an email, “We are going to permanently ban you from commenting on our site. I say “we” but really, it’s me.”

Foster, who has been the publisher of the Gannett owned Tallahassee Democrat for just under two years, went on to explain his decision in a 380 word email.

Foster said,

I understand the role you play in this community and don’t begrudge it one bit. Everybody has their “schtick” – yours is to be one of the conservative talk show hosts in town. You have chosen to align with Tallahassee Reports, presumably for ideological and/or business reasons. I’m fine with that.

Foster went on to minimize Mr. Scott’s show, which recently expanded to the Panama City market, and took a shot at Tallahassee Reports:

 I’m privy to the same data (Scarborough, Nielsen, Comscore, etc.) you undoubtedly see, so I’m aware of the size of your audience and where you rank among radio stations in this market.  Armed with data, I can say that it really doesn’t matter to me what you say about the Democrat and Tallahassee.com on your show or what Steve Stewart says on his web site.

And then Foster got to the heart of the issue by saying “what you are NOT free to do, is to promote other information sources on our site, which you have done.”

This is the part of Foster’s email that is confusing.

TR reviewed the last 14 comments posted by Mr. Scott since August 1st.  The comments made by Scott were focused on his opinion of issues and/or citing additional facts related to stories. Not one comment promoted other information sources as Mr. Foster implies.

Samples of the Mr. Scott’s comments are shown below:

August 21st
Clark: Is Henry going to wind up just another cautionary tale?
Great column, Corey.

August 18th
TPD, LCSO report drop in violent crime
Karl…who said the funding came from the property tax increase, the City? That’s nonsense. That’s what the City wanted you to report. The funding came from a decision to better fund police. They could have funded it anytime staff and Commissioners wanted to fund it properly. They have hundreds of millions in revenue streams. It is a primary function of government to provide for the safety of citizens and should be a first priority. Do you guys ever question a thing?

August 16th
Tallahassee ranked No. 6 ‘Best College Town’
I wish it were true. Amazing how there can be so many great opportunities when the community has lost jobs according to state numbers (more than 3,000 in the last three months), there are 500 fewer businesses than there were five years ago, we have the highest violent crime rate in the state, and Tallahassee leads the nation in income disparity. Of course, these facts – easily obtainable would tarnish the story a little, thus the reporter likely chose obligated to not include them, if he even bothered to look. This paper is so in the tank for City leadership it is nauseating.

August 15th
A tale of two Nancys
That this is a story is hilarious. Sen. Montford always takes anyone who runs against him “seriously.” You have to wonder with reporters, repeat reporters not columnists, calling winners in local races (didn’t Skip Foster pledge the Democrat would no longer offer endorsements) it is clear the Democrat is all in for insiders.

August 2nd
Hougland calls on Richardson to return vendor contributions
Isn’t this the exact same issue where the Democrat excoriated LCS Superintendent Jackie Pons? Accepting donations from vendors who do work for the school system? Of course, the obvious difference is Pons has no vote in the school projects – the school board does. I would think we see much, much more of this story if the Democrat is consistent.
_________________________________________

So why the ban?

Mr. Scott’s last comment, about two days ago, addressed an article about “geo-fencing” and hit the Tallahassee Democrat hard on business practices.

“The decline continues. Last time it was the Demmy’s…oops, whatever they were called where businesses had to pay money to be listed on the ballot. This just in: The Democrat must be desperate for cash and it is no wonder with the reporting which has not been going. Good reports leave because “the community” (ie: Insiders) meddle in what gets covered or published. As Brian properly notes below – this is flat wrong.”

Another comment posted by a different reader also took the Democrat to task over the same article :

“I question the integrity of the Democrat for publishing such an advertisement meant to look like it was objective reporting. It is basically advertising for advertising with Democrat staff renamed as Tallahassee Media Group. Why not mention salesforce.com and simpli.fi as well as other geofencing services? Misleading has become the new “reporting”.”

The article, written by Leslie Smith, the Tallahassee Democrat’s Marketing Director, addressed the Democrat’s roll out of a marketing product call geo-fencing.

The article detailed how the Tallahassee Democrat could “geo-fence” a business competitor for a fee and report back to their client with information about people visiting their competitors by using tracking technology. This type of marketing service is extremely controversial and as the article pointed out it was “Big Brother-ish.” We will have more on the practice in a future report.

Was Mr. Foster offended by the harsh review of the Tallahassee Democrat business practices? Was this the comment that got Scott banned?

Mr. Scott does not know and Mr. Foster did not provide any additional insight when queried.

Mr. Foster took one last shot at Scott’s show by saying “as a competitor (albeit a very minor one) I’m not going to allow you to use our much, much, much larger platform to consistently attack us.”

And he closed with “Preston, I hold no ill will toward you at all – this is strictly a business decision.”

The “business decision” closing is again confusing given prior comments. However, whatever his reason, one thing is clear, Mr. Foster, the publisher of the Gannett owned Tallahassee Democrat banned a dissenting view from the pages of the paper of record in the state capital of the third largest state.

Disclosure: Tallahassee Reports has a business relationship with two local radio stations that include WFLA 100.7 and Freedom 93.3.

42 Responses to Publisher Bans Talk Show Host from Commenting on Tallahassee.com

  1. Geoff Reply

    August 25, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    At one time the Democrat was a decent paper, albeit many years ago. I will occasionally purchase one and, after about a 5 minute perusal, wonder why. Well, no more. Hard to believe there still in business.

    • george fergusson Reply

      September 10, 2016 at 7:58 am

      The Tallahassee Democrat is to newspapers what MSNBC is to television journalism. Well I take that back; MSNBC does have Joe
      Scarborough, who I find refreshing occasionally, like a cold shower during the recent power outage.

  2. Renee Miller Reply

    August 25, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    na na na na na. You can’t play in my sandbox anymore.
    Wow. Grow up.

  3. Vic Aderhold Reply

    August 25, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    It seems as if each publisher Gannet foisters on Tallahassee is worse than the one before. Methinks Steve and Preston are getting under the Democrat ‘s skin. Keep up the good work fellas.

  4. Tina Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 12:33 am

    Mr. Foster needs a reality check if he thinks censorship of this nature is acceptable business practice. I have been in Tallahassee 20 years and the only thing I ever found the Democrat to be useful for was potty training the family dog.
    The Democrat has always been referred to as a joke among the locals. Their incompetence and unprofessional business practices are hysterical. I am grateful to Mr.Scott’s honest and informative radio program and to Mr. Stewart for finally bringing a shining beacon of good journalism to Tallahassee.

  5. james d irwin Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 12:40 am

    Fingers in the ears. LaLaLaLa…I can’t hear it, so it’s not really there. There is a reason people refer to it as “The Dummycrat” and “The Mullet Wrapper”. They are always careful not to let truth get in the way of their biased agenda.

  6. Tom Derzypolski Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 6:00 am

    Oh my. Careful now. I am a conservative, small business owner and listener of the Preston Scott show and I read Tallahassee Reports (and the Democrat and Capital Outlook). But, being a free thinking kinda person, I had differences of opinion from time to time with Tallahassee Reports. I would comment on Tallahassee Reports Facebook page (not as a business or media personality…just as a small business owner / parent / veteran) and I was blocked from future posts. The reason given to me was: “All you do is defend the people in our stories.” (paraphrased quote) To this day, I am unable to comment on stories.

    I voted for Steve Stewart, know him to be a good father and business man. Preston brings up interesting subjects for us all to consider. But I think if we are going to play in the public eye (be a news outlet) – we all must be open to differences of opinion.

    May I be “reinstated” to comment on the Tallahassee Reports Facebook page? Please know in advance that I may not always agree with you – and I may comment to that fact. But I will perhaps bring perspective and thoughts many of your readers agree with. As a newspaper, I hope would welcome the thoughts of your readers. In light of your story above regarding the Democrat blocking critical comments on their page, I trust you agree with me.

    Respectfully submitted.

    • Steve

      Steve Reply

      August 26, 2016 at 7:28 am

      Hi Tom, our review of our facebook settings show that no one is blocked from posting on our page. Have you tried to post recently? Please let me know.

      • Tom Derzypolski Reply

        August 26, 2016 at 4:12 pm

        Steve – try this: go to the page, then click Settings > People and Other Pages. Then choose “Banned People and Pages” from the drop-down.

        • Steve

          Steve Reply

          August 26, 2016 at 5:36 pm

          We have reviewed the settings and there have never been any banned users on our facebook page.

          • Tom Derzypolski

            August 28, 2016 at 12:29 pm

            ok – not sure about the settings. I’m just recalling our conversation where you and I spoke about this. No worries. You guys have a great week. Keep up the good work.

        • News_Maven Reply

          August 26, 2016 at 11:22 pm

          Tom: Are you sure Facecrook itself didn’t ban you?

  7. Lee Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 7:54 am

    Bullying at it’s finest…. Glad I don’t waste my money on this crap of a paper.

  8. R. Day Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 8:03 am

    Problem is Gannett and their anti-competion stance, they fear any kind if competition and will use any means nessary. They have been sued many times and lost twice, once was due to them “renting” free spaces for publications and charging their print competition stupid high rates. Gannett is a loser, scared of it own shadow. Crappy paper, crappy people as I found when trying to place an add in the mullet wrapper. Never again.

  9. Mike White Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 8:03 am

    Desperate act of a paper in its, albeit very slow, death throws. I was in a convenience store one morning when the delivery guy brought in thug day’s paper. He posted a sign that the paper was going up another $.75. I said to him,”so few read your rag that now so you have to raise the price?”
    “Yes” He answered.
    “And now, even fewer will read it?”
    “Yep”

  10. Everett Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Just the removal of another mask of pretentious and supposedly unbiased reporting that the Democrat and so many other MSM outlets have been hiding behind. Amazing to see how rapid these organizations are self-destructing by showing their true colors and no longer pretend to be unbiased.

    The Democrat’s faux “business decision” (aka ideology decision)is the primary reason they are spiraling down the drain hole.

  11. Charles Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 8:30 am

    I have lived in several cities, two in Texas, one in Alabama and now Tallahassee. I have visited family here in Tallahassee for about 15 years. I have never seen a newspaper with fewer classified ads and especially ads for employment, than in the Tallahassee Democrat. We moved here just over two years ago. During that time I have purchased one issue of the Tallahassee Democrat and it was this April 1st. I do occasionally read the funnies when visiting our family.

    • Dean Reply

      August 26, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      We don’t waste money on employment ads in the Democrat any longer. We received the worst applicants than any other place. It is clear they won’t or can’t even read the ad as most of the applicants were barely qualified to flip burgers. We have had much better luck with craigslist and that is free.

      I love Tallahassee Reports, keep up the good work Steve!

      • News_Maven Reply

        August 26, 2016 at 11:27 pm

        Tallahassee Democrat readers are TR advertisers’ shoplifters.

  12. James Daniels Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 8:36 am

    What about freedom of press? This is how the erosion of our rights has taken place over the years: baby steps. A good reporter should back their work and be willing to take heat for their work. This is disgusting and highlights the bias that has been portrayed by the mullet wrapper for years. The city government is full of poor decisions. The reporting should be backed by facts. If the powers of the Tallahassee Democrat want to act like children when their reporting is questioned, it should make you weary of what they are reporting.

  13. Stanley Sims Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Whitevoicesmatter!!! I’m just saying…

    • BEC Reply

      August 26, 2016 at 10:20 am

      Allvoicesmatter!!

  14. Julia Keen Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Well another blow for our freedom of speech. as one fellow put i use the paper for my kitty box cause that is all it is good for. thank you steve and preston for giving us a fair and balance report.
    may god bless you.

  15. Luther Lee Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 10:34 am

    I can understand that there are legitimate reasons for blocking/banning people from commenting, but I fail to see any real reason based on the comments shared in this article. I thought newspapers were the epitome of freedom of speech?

  16. jon Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Sounds like sour grapes to me. TDO routinely puts out biased news and opinion (or just ignores the truth), and then gets upset when it happens to them. It wont change until people stop hitting their page.

  17. Uncle Ed Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    I’m no big fan of the Democrat, but it seems to me the guy has a point. Why would the newspaper continue to host negative comments on its website about its honesty, competence, etc. Would Mr. Scott put on the air callers who would call him a blowhard, a bore or an egotist? Would he just sit there while somebody goes on and on, questioning his honesty and competence? The newspaper has ALWAYS looked down on its broadcast competitors, particularly radio.

    • Dean Reply

      August 26, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      Preston has allowed people to do just that, especially on Friday between 8:00 and 8:30. Check it out and call in sometime. He has always been a professional and welcomes other opinions.

      To do otherwise like the Democrat has done is a sign of weakness. They have no argument and have to run to their safe space.

    • Ed's crazy uncle Reply

      August 26, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Silly Ed, don’t you know liberal conspiracy when you see it? Uh, what’s that? The Democrat opposed all the city’s recent tax increases? And supported a biz tax cut? oh. Nothing to see here.

  18. Larry Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    I’m glad that I cancelled my subscription. Not much of value to read anyway.

  19. Rob Reply

    August 26, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    I haven’t listened to Preston in a couple of years; his show declined after Eric Eggers left. I didn’t realize how much Eric kept Preston’s mouth in check. Of course, I haven’t subscribed to the Democrat in over eight years (but did just renew my TR subscription – thanks, Steve!).

    All that said, there both far to concerned about their self-importance to see what’s going on around them, but the paper is the perfect representation of liberals – make up your own facts, ignore the voice of others, repeat false facts, think you’re the greatest thing since oxygen.

  20. Hope Reply

    August 27, 2016 at 7:14 am

    Preston is an unprofessional bully who endorses incompetence himself. He never looks any further than trashing the city. He ignores problems in the county. He is a spinner himself. Kudos to Mr. Foster for shutting the immaturity and unprofessionalism down! The Tallahassee Democrat has had its issues also (Gabordi), but I have seen vast marked improvements since the new management. I too thought the Morning Show declined since Eric Eggers left. When you are given much real estate to voice your opinions to the masses Preston would do well to attend the entry level 101 class on decorum and basic reporting skills. I have never ever seen Mr. Stewart be unprofessional when delivering news, facts, and opinions in public or in print. Perhaps, a mature respectable relationship will evolve between Mr. Stewart and Mr. Foster. Preston is obsolete in my opinion.

    • Preston Scott

      Preston Scott Reply

      August 27, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Wow…Hope, such kind words. Of course, you are wrong on many levels so I will correct you. First, we are a locally originated program and as Tip O’Neil once said, “All politics is local.” I am not a reporter, though on rare occasions we do “break” a story. I offer opinion radio. You need to come to grips with the difference. It is why I have Steve on as integral part of the program. He is a reporter. However, Steve does on occasion write opinions inside the pages of TR. However, he is a professional and holds those apart from articles. Vast improvements, huh? You are simply wrong, again. The paper prints stories knowing, repeat KNOWING, what they were told by a siting elected official was and outright lie. The video recordings of City meetings and public record proves it time and again. I point those things out. When a reporter writes Forbes Magazine ranks FAMU one of the top schools in the south when the ranking of Forbes shows it 625 out of 660 I point it out. To circle back to your closing points – Eric was a valuable part of the show. But, becoming married and then a father brings new demands and producing my show is not easy for a family man. I am thrilled for his success with GAI and treasure our friendship. As for decline – certainly, you are entitled to your opinion. Thankfully, God’s grace has smiled on our efforts and my show is not only heard nation-wide on iHeart Radio and the company has seen fit to give me my own channel (a rare thing for local talk), but my show has expanded into other parts of the panhandle to the point where it is now heard from east of Tallahassee to Destin, from the Gulf to south Georgia and parts of Alabama (I’m told). Again, that is God’s grace. Sadly, you really do not understand the role I play compared to Steve and that’s fine – you are not in the business we are in. Be well.

      • Craig Reply

        August 30, 2016 at 2:46 pm

        What’s sad is choosing between Skip Foster and Preston Scott is like picking between Trump and Hillary.

        I thought the show got better when Eric left because he was replaced with Will Dance, whose show you can hear every day on 93.3 FM from 6-9a.

        As for Preston’s point that his show is better because he can be heard in a different city, well, didn’t Bob Gabordi get a job in a bigger city too? Guess that means he got better as a newspaper man…

    • DavidB Reply

      August 29, 2016 at 8:16 am

      Hope, which/what problems in the county are being ignored? I’m very curious as to what they are.

      As for Preston, I only have one real problem with his show. The volume and type of commercials. Now, it’s a sign of success to be able to run that many commercials. Vendors feel the are reaching a large audience (do you hear that, Democrat?), but personalizing of those commercials? ARGH!. Sorry Preston, drives me up a wall! Personal taste, I realize that, but I punch the radio button when they come on.

      I do come back after a few minutes though.

  21. Tony ODonnell Reply

    August 27, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Great job Mr Scott!! The Truth hurts some it seems.

  22. Thomas C. Hooker Reply

    August 29, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I was banned from the newspapers facebook page, and I am a subscriber. The question that go me banned was asking when they were going to cover the waste in city government, the insider deals, the relatives being hired, and the unfair taxation and fees.

    Of course I kept asking these questions for about 90 days. that was enough for TDO.

  23. Becky Tatum Reply

    September 8, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    So happy we have The Morning Show With Preston Scott. That show and its listeners prove not everybody drank the cool-aid .

  24. Chad Reply

    September 8, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    Well, Preston Scott blocked me after I tried to correct his grammar. So I can’t feel too sorry for him.
    (PRS, if read this, PLEASE, PLEASE look up the definition of “ironic”. You use it often. Incorectly.)

    • Joe Tucker Reply

      October 18, 2016 at 1:27 pm

      He blocked me too when I questioned his reasoning. I think he’s a buffoon, a constant bore, overemphasizes his point too much that you have to turn him off.

  25. Paul Forshay Reply

    September 11, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Preston Scott was the ONLY one on air that actually gave residence information during our recent “hurricane”. No city official, no other station, or Skip Foster was was providing up-to-the-minute news, telling us where to go to get supplies. where there where gas stations open, where we could get food or water, and other very important information. Since when does a media outlet “Ban” someone for stating their opinions. Shame on you Mr. Foster, for attmping to “silence the opposition”.

  26. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot Reply

    October 11, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    I heard Mr. Scott’s show once a few years back because I was up earlier than usual due to a Doc appointment. I haven’t listened since.
    Subsequently, I heard him speak at a public meeting and thought his speaking style was similar to a hand grenade, show up, blast his opinion without thought of the consequences, and leave without any interest in opposing opinions. His demeanor is, “if you don’t agree with me you are either uninformed, misinformed, or stupid.” He shows no tolerance or respect for anyone who disagrees with him. It is an intolerance of philosophical or political discourse except his own.
    I am an American and I oppose discrimination in any form directed at anyone.
    I am a Republican and I oppose intolerance.
    We need strong conservatives with bright minds who possess diplomatic skills, not just attack dog instincts.
    I condemn the action taken by Mr. Foster. If a local newspaper is to survive, it must be a place where different opinions roam freely, not just a collection of citizens who agree with the political choices of the editorial staff.

  27. Judith Branch Reply

    July 3, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Please, why would anyone listen to the TD, I cut them off years ago. terrible newspaper. Love P. Scott.

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