by Jeff Woods
In his race for General Sessions judge, Mike Jameson is airing this happy little TV ad starring his children. As proof of what makes their dad a fair and tough judge, the ad says, the kids boast of his "22 years of experience" and claim he deserves thanks for "cutting the crime rate 37 percent [in his council district]."
That's great, isn't it? There's only one problem. It's misleading.
A judge for 22 years? Jameson has been wearing a black robe for all of three months. Cutting the crime rate? Please.
Jameson was appointed to replace the late General Sessions Judge Leon Ruben in November by his friends on the Metro Council, where he represented East Nashville for eight years. Now, he's running for the job in next week's election against two other Democrats — Jack Byrd and Rachel Bell.
Most lawyers in a Nashville Bar Association poll recommended Jameson over his rivals. They think he's the best qualified. So he must have at least a few good qualities to exaggerate in a TV ad. Instead, he mischaracterizes his experience — and makes his kids to do his dirty work. Kudos to Jameson and his media consultant, Bill Fletcher, for giving all the judge's supporters reason to think twice about voting for him.
Update: Over at In Session, Michael Cass ignores the misleading info in Jameson's ad to write about similarities he sees in an MTV video. What insight! This helps explain why, along with Gail Kerr, Cass is the Nashville PR world's go-to guy for puff pieces. With media watchdogs like Cass, we can all sleep peacefully.
Update: Jameson laughs off any claim that the ad misleads about his experience. The 22 years clearly refers to his legal background, he says. "The ad isn't claiming I've been a judge for 22 years. I mean, I'm not 65 years old." The same point regarding legal experience has been made in his direct mail pieces, he notes. Jameson adds that he has indeed handled "thousands of cases" — both before his appointment as well as after. Because of the nature of the General Sessions docket, it is not uncommon within a brief tenure to handle hundreds of cases a day, he notes. He further stands by the crime reduction statistics. "You only get 30 seconds in a commercial, so you can't elaborate. But again, our mail pieces spell out that I indeed worked with the police on anti-crime legislation and funding, and that crime indeed dropped 37 percent in my Council district."