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The Houston Chronicle: We don’t Care if The Houston Ballet Does Business with a Convicted Serial Fraudster Who has Access to Thousands of Credit Cards.

The Houston Chronicle has informed The Ink that it is not amused by or in favor of covering a story about DCM employing convicted serial fraudster Jacqueline Berkaw to raise money for the Houston Ballet. The reasons given: because they didn’t like the way we described her and because she doesn’t work directly for the ballet.

Writing to the Ink the Houston Chronicle said that derogatory descriptions of Berkaw’s appearance were not something “a newspaper would be interested in” and …that because Berkaw is employed by a vendor working for the Ballet and not the ballet directly, they do not have any interest in informing the greater Houston community that a woman who served 2 years in a federal prison for credit card and bank fraud was running the fundraising office for the ballet. They have no interest in reporting that DCM Telefundraising, the vendor in question, is facing allegations of participating in a nationwide fraud scheme, may be guilty of antitrust violations and collusion, and that Berkaw was removed from her position at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra precisely because of her criminal background and because her access to thousands of donor’s credit cards posed a significant risk.

Thus we have a media failure hiding behind politically correct outrage and splitting hairs. While it is true that DCM employs Berkaw and DCM is a vendor of the ballet the fact remains that Berkaw, who was charged and convicted on multiple counts for fraud, served over 2 years in a federal prison for it. Additionally she was removed from her position at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and transferred to the Houston Ballet where she has access to thousands of credit cards. It is also worth noting that Berkaw may be in violation of her parole and is wanted by federal authorities for fleeing the jurisdiction where she committed her crimes.

The “it’s the vendor not the nonprofit” excuse will no doubt warm the hearts of people in and around Houston when their credit is ruined, and their cash is stolen. And when the lawsuits come the Houston Chronicle can tell everyone they were under no obligation to tell the public they were in any danger.

The Ink believes that the politically correct outrage is genuine – that is The Houston Chronicle is genuinely offended because they believe the way someone looks should have no bearing on how they are judged. Except that years of drug use, alcohol abuse, being described by hundreds of people in court as a sociopath and possessing the personality of an escapee from a defunct roach motel has left Berkaw looking like the moral equivalent of an ambulatory dumpster fire. It is our opinion that her morality (or lack of) is tattooed on her face.

We also made it clear to the Houston Chronicle that The Violent Ink is an opinion blog and not journalism.

That Berkaw is employed by DCM CEO Phil Miller a man so crooked it requires (to borrow a phrase) a team of gymnasts to screw him into his pants every morning is also apparently of no concern to the Houston Chronicle. The Houston Chronicle ended their missive by saying that they had looked at the Violent Ink and that it seemed like it contained personal attacks and that was not of interest to a newspaper.

The Houston Chronicle forgot to add that attacks were not of interest to a newspaper…unless it was the newspaper conducting the attacks. And that journalist and author Kathleen Sharp’s profile of Berkaw for LA Magazine contained detailed descriptions of Berkaw’s looks and her seductive drug fueled personality.

The Ink is certain that the Houston Chronicle is a bastion of contemporary journalistic integrity and that we would be shocked to learn that there was a connection between members of the Houston Ballet board and the Houston Chronicle, and that its significant donors were involved with the owners of the Houston Chronicle board or ownership group and we would be shocked to discover that advertising revenue from the Houston Ballet to the Houston Chronicle played a role in editorial decisions. No doubt the Houston Chronicle is as honest as the day is long. No doubt the Houston Chronicle is committed to exposing corruption wherever it occurs and if a convicted serial fraudster like Berkaw was stealing credit cards and money from Houston Ballet patrons, either as an employee of a vendor or as a direct employee of the ballet they would be all over it.

Except, apparently not so much.

Once again: Profiles in courage.

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