Remember the sad case of Don Rosenberg, the classical music critic for the Cleveland Plain Dealer who kept panning Franz Welser Moest until he got "reassigned" and his editor , Susan Goldberg, assigned someone else to cover the Cleveland Orchestra?
Now Rosenberg, in a sadly predictable development of the situation, has sued the newspaper and the Cleveland Orchestra.
Tim Smith, who broke the original story, spoke with Rosenberg
who says: "I was just not going to let it ride. I had to make a statement about a lot of issues."
The suit charges that the editor and orchestra officials conspired "maliciously, intentionally, willfully, unlawfully ... retalitorily ..." to remove the critic from his duties. In fascinating detail, the suit lays out a scenario that begins with an article by Don that appeared in the Plain Dealer in August 2004 reporting on an interview Cleveland Orchestra music director Franz Welser-Most had given to a Swiss magazine. In that interview, the conductor was quoted making some cutting remarks about Cleveland's provinicialism, its audience of "blue hair ladies," and the "rich widows" needed to fund the arts. Welser-Most also was quoted as favoring a system of charging money to get an audience with him (it sounds rather like something that Illinois Gov. Blagojevich might have thought up) -- more than $5,000 before the donor would get a handshake, but, for $10 million, "of course, you go to dinner."
"I was just being a dutiful reporter," Don said today. But once those comments hit the Cleveland paper, orchestra officials reacted angrily; the suit alleges that the p.r. director told Don he would suffer "consequences." The suit goes on to describe efforts over the next few years to "besmirch Plaintiff's reputation as a music critic"; various meetings held between orchestra administrators and the paper's editor to discuss critical coverage of Welser-Most; the supression of an article Don wrote and another he planned to write that would have contained negative assessments of Welser-Most's tenure at the orchestra; and, finally, in September, the demotion to arts and entertainment reporter.
In Smith's Baltimore Sun blog, Clef Notes, there's much more.