Monday, February 4, 2008

The Real Scott Templteton

In season five's fictional newsroom, most of David Simon's attacks on The Sun are pretty obvious: the editors' concern with Pulitzers, narrowing the scope instead of broadening it and the buyouts, particularly the firing of veteran reporter Twigg (based on Simon himself, no doubt).

And then, of course, there's newbie reporter Scott Templeton. From the onset, there was something shady about his character and, after the first few episodes, it became painfully obvious that he was fabricating stories. In between writing sensationalized pieces about 13-year-olds in wheelchairs and making up react quotes, Templeton is in cahoots with top editors.

Though Templeton himself is full of shit, his character is far from fictional. Though unconfirmed, it appears that Simon based him on former Sun reporter Jim Haner. Haner, who happened to be tight with one of Simon's foes William Marimow, specialized in urban affairs and investigative reporting. He was a three-time Pulitzer finalist, but was often criticized for his fluff pieces that didn't accurately portray the city. His "reporting" led The Sun to print numerous retractions and Simon has openly questioned his ethics.

Clearly, City Paper was the first jump all over him, with moves such as bestowing him the Best Parallel Universe award in 2000. However, the more informative piece came a month later in their department "Media Circus." The very balanced "Throwing Stones," written by Tom Chalkley, describes Haner from all sides, but leaves one thing undeniable: he is the real Scott Templeton.

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