AJC news editor criticized for Ferguson comment

AJC news editor criticized for Ferguson comment

Everyone in Augusta by now has heard the story of the North Augusta mom who dropped the F-bomb in front of her kids at a Kroger grocery store across the river.

But this past week, George Mathis, a news editor from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution got an earful from readers of his blog, “News to Me.”

The Georgia native wrote a blog entry called, “Mom arrested for dropping ‘F-bombs’ on kids,” that discussed the recent arrest of the 22-year-old North Augusta mom, Danielle Wolf.

Mathis described how Wolf was shopping at Kroger in North Augusta when she told her kids to “stop squishing the [expletive] bread.”

“Wolf was arrested in front of her children and husband and charged with disorderly conduct,” Mathis wrote in the Aug. 14 blog. “North Augusta has a law on the books that makes it a misdemeanor to use profanity or ‘bawdy’ language where anyone else can hear it.”

He joked that many people throughout Atlanta would be arrested if it had such a law.

“If Atlanta police enforced such a law, many Braves fan at Turner Field would be arrested this season,” he wrote.

Mathis then had a few chuckles at Wolf’s expense by explaining she was interviewed by Augusta’s WJBF News Channel 6 wearing a “Sons of Anarchy” T-shirt.

Wolf reportedly explained to WJBF that she was yelling at her husband, who allegedly was throwing frozen pizzas in the shopping cart and crushing the bread, not her children.

“I didn’t harm nobody. I didn’t hurt nobody. The lady said she was having a bad day. So, because you’re having a bad day, you’re going to ruin somebody’s life?” Wolf told WJBF.

Mathis insisted that a Sept. 12 court appearance by Wolf would likely only result in a small fine.

“So, it is doubtful her life has been ruined,” Mathis joked.

But what caused all hell to break loose were the next two lines in Mathis’ blog.

“Wolf should thank her lucky stars she’s not in Missouri,” Mathis wrote. “I shudder to think what Ferguson police would do to a cussing momma.”

Needless to say, several readers took exception to Mathis’ decision to bring the shooting death of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager from Ferguson, into a blog about the cursing North Augusta mom.

Suddenly, many readers wanted to cuss him out.

“What was the author thinking with that last graph?” one reader commented. “Very inappropriate and lame attempt at humor.”

“Way to play the race card, George,” another wrote. “Saw nothing in the article about race.”

Another reader personally attacked Mathis.

“Wow. Are you serious?  What does Ferguson have to do with this story?” the reader wrote. “I guess Georgey boy was mad that he had to write about local Georgia news rather than come up with his own ‘provocative’ piece about what’s going on in Missouri.

Based on his little passive provocative dig above, I would say that the AJC made the right choice by leaving the ‘real’ reporting for the big league boys.”

Other readers tried to make a connection between the Ferguson situation and the North Augusta mom.

“When Officer Darren Wilson drove up beside Michael Brown and said ‘Get the F out of the street’ he used ‘fighting words’ and unprofessional demeanor,” one reader commented. “He suggested to Brown that he was an inferior person who could be spoken to in a derogatory manner without consequences. That is called assault in a court of law.”

As the comments continued, people were criticizing Mathis from every angle.

“Why would you compare the two incidents?” one reader wrote. “First of all,

that police officer in Ferguson hasn’t even had a chance to defend himself.  The details aren’t in… Why would you stoke more racial bias and put another dart in the

the American way of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’”

The reader went on for several paragraph criticizing Mathis.

“You are doing more harm than good to our society by stoking this kind of behavior,” the reader wrote. “You’re helping to create a virtual race war here in America.”

Apparently, Mathis reached out to this particular reader to explain his column because a few minutes later the reader posted the following:

“I just got an email from George Mathis. I apologized because I ‘mis-read’ what he was trying to say in his article,” the reader wrote. “He was comparing the cussing woman’s problems with the families and cops problems in Ferguson. It wasn’t clear what he was trying to do, but sorry, George. This country is at a high level of anxiety over all the racial junk going on.  I’m sick of it and don’t see any end in sight. It’s way out of control.”

Who would have thought a blog about the North Augusta mom cursing in a Kroger would result in a heated debate about race?

Only in Georgia.

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