Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell: Rude, radical and unprofessional

Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell

Reports that Koch Industries is exploring a bid to buy the Tribune Co.’s newspapers has Orlando’s far left in a lather over the prospect of losing “its” paper.

The Orlando Sentinel is one of several Tribune newspapers, which also include the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun and the Sun Sentinel.

Florida Watch Action organized a rally Thursday in front of the Orlando Sentinel’s offices to “fight back” against the dastardly billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, arch enemies of all things progressive.

Florida Watch Action is best known for its “Pink Slip Rick” campaign, which stalks Republican Gov. Rick Scott at public appearances. The progressive organization was founded by former ACORN political director Susannah Randolph, and is currently headed up by her protégé, Amy Ritter.

Having far-left activists rally on behalf of the local newspaper seemed to be a story worth covering, so I made the trip downtown.

Upon arriving, I saw Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell, who was mingling outside with the protesters, and I was interested in hearing his comments on the potential sale.

Maxwell, in background w/shades on top of his head

Maxwell and I have had minimal interaction via the Web, but I had never met him in person. To be fair, I have been a critic of some of his past efforts. He was standing among a group of individuals, including Ritter, and when there was a pause in conversation, I leaned in, addressed him as “Mr. Maxwell” — which I now regret — and politely asked if he’d be interested in an interview.

I suppose I made the mistake of expecting professional courtesy, but Maxwell was in no mood for such good graces. He quickly launched an all-out assault on me for failing to identify myself, although he is well aware that I am a local writer.

Of course, my intention was to extend a formal introduction once he accepted my interview request and we separated from the group.

Instead, hell-bent on establishing his superiority over me and perhaps impressing his far-left following, Maxwell chose to insult me for being “cowardly” because I didn’t offer my name upfront.

I was a little taken aback, surprised that he felt so threatened by me, but I tried to maintain a certain decorum of professionalism. I tried to be lighthearted, but he ranted on, even going so far as to question my “moral compass” over my sin of not stating my name upfront.

In the end, Maxwell chose not to go on the record with me. Interestingly, neither would any of the protesters who were there to be heard. Apparently, Ritter had warned them about talking to me. So much for diversity.

I understand the newspaper business is struggling, but as a representative of the Orlando Sentinel, Maxwell’s actions were inappropriate, to say the least. Clearly, he doesn’t agree with my conservative politics, but that is no excuse for his rude, unprofessional behavior.

I suspect he may have been upset to see me there, since he knew then that his decision to stand outside and socialize with radical activists he’s grown very comfortable with was now public record.

At the start of the year, Maxwell named Stephanie Porta, head of the ACORN Florida successor group Organize Now, as one of the 25 most powerful people in Central Florida, trumpeting her success with the union-led mandatory sick leave issue.

It’s not surprising that Maxwell touts the “power” of progressive activists when the Sentinel offers them a public platform anytime they wish to get a message out. The paper even ran an article advertising Thursday’s protest on its own steps.

Perhaps it was fate that I had just watched a sneak preview of “Hating Breitbart” on Wednesday. The movie chronicles Andrew Breitbart’s quest to change the media paradigm in America by upending the traditional press and changing the ground rules of political journalism.

Breitbart opened the floodgates to an army of citizen journalists like me, who use new media to rewrite the political narrative long controlled by individuals like Maxwell.

We are in a new age, whether traditional journalists like it or not, and it seems some on the left are content to go down with the sinking ship. But the real cowardly act is to go down while hiding behind material gains instead of having the courage to stand by one’s true convictions. Mazel tov!


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Tom Tillison


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