MEDIA SULLIVAN’S REVENGE

It’s hard to imagine how “media relations” could get much messier than the hissy little catfight currently under way between the city of Addison, The Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Tunes Herald, and former Addison police chief Rick Sullivan-to name just a few of the participants in the current legal brouhaha.

David Margulies, former Channel 8 newsman-cum-self-styled “media crisis management expert,” whom the city of Addison pays $3,000 a month for PR help, is now being sued, along with the city, for slander by Sullivan and former acting chief Jake Miller. In their suit, the two claim they were fired as part of retaliation against them for their roles as “whistle-blowers” during newspaper investigations of questionable spending practices by town officials. Sullivan maintains that Margulies libeled him by alerting the media to a district attorney’s investigation of him for allegedly stealing from the police property room.

The suit seems rather flimsy prima facie, as lawyers like to say. The DA’s office acknowledged the investigation, which would make it seem pretty libel-proof.

But never mind the validity of the suit: as any PR person will tell you, it’s not what actually happens, but how it makes you look. That’s why Margulies, whose on-camera trademark even on warm days was a detective-style trenchcoat, may finally have reason to break a sweat.

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