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  Contra Costa Times - Eye on the East Bay: Richmond Councilman Turns Media Critic
January 20, 2013

Contra Costa Times

Eye on the East Bay: Richmond Councilman Turns Media Critic

Contra Costa Times
Posted:   01/20/2013 12:00:00 AM PST
COUNCILMAN TURNS MEDIA CRITIC: Tom Butt is a lot of things to a lot of people in Richmond. A goat herder. An architect. A veteran. A powerful councilman. Some even call him a "gangsta," a playful moniker some use in describing Butt's perceived skill in besting his political rivals in the race for power and resources.
But now the irrepressible 68-year-old is donning a new hat: trenchant media critic.
On his wildly popular E-forum -- Butt says he has 2,000 subscribers and more than 3,000 page views daily -- the councilman with the rapier pen has been carving newspaper reports like Thanksgiving turkeys.
Now, the Eye knows that politicians criticizing media is not exactly a new trick, but Butt does it with it particular pluck.
When The New York Times in early January published a surface overview of the city's tribulations with Chevron, Butt pounced.
"This is an interesting article but has a number of factual errors and erroneous embellishments," Butt wrote, opening a multipart dissection of all the reporter's missteps. The post was received with delight by Butt's readers, some of whom praised him for his clinical approach toward taking the elite out-of-town paper behind the proverbial woodshed.
Butt doesn't discriminate in his criticism. He comes after local news as well, including newspapers and even student-run blogs. On Jan. 9, Butt took issue with the Times for characterizing City Councilman-elect Gary Bell's platform as "pro-business."
"I am taking on this overused, misused and erroneous characterization of council members' attitude toward business as one of my missions of 2013," Butt wrote.
When one resident sent Butt a chippy reply to a post, calling Butt's writing "self-serving," the Arkansas native wrote back and put his standard disclaimer at the bottom: "Of course my E-FORUM is self-serving. One of the reasons I do it is to express my opinions, as noted below."