Now the Rest of the Story….KnoxDems, Donila & Whetstone

Monday November 20, 2023 the Facebook page of the Knox County Democrat Party, presumably a post by the fleeing Chair Matt Shears taking swipes at Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and his Communications Guy Mike Donila

Now thanks to the Tuesday November 21, 2023 Compass Knox email we as Paul Harvey would say, Have the Rest of the Story.

“There were some spicy words from a Knox County spokesman in the lead-up to the ambulance contract vote. The News Sentinel reported yesterdaythat when reporters asked County Mayor Glenn Jacobs’ office about contingency plans if Commission voted down the contract, county Communications Director Mike Donila responded by questioning their professionalism and calling KNS reporter Tyler Whetstone “an asshole.””

“Donila provided email exchangesand a text message between himself and Whetstone to Compass yesterday in response to a records request. (Such exchanges between members of the media and county officials are public record.) Donila also added some context. He said that over the past two weeks, his office had responded to many requests from KNS reporters for information about the ambulance contract process, including digging up background about prior contract processes more than a decade ago and providing contacts of people who were there at the time but have since left county employment.”

“He said he was frustrated to then receive an email from Whetstone at 6:19 p.m. Friday seeking answers to questions about contingency plans, with a response deadline of noon Saturday. In reply, Donila wrote, “Always a pleasure to receive a set of questions in the 11th hour from a reporter who’s had all day to reach out. But then that would be fair and objective and we can’t have that, can we? Anyway, I’m going to forward you an email we sent to commissioners last week that should provide some insight into the process.””

“Whetstone responded with the same questions on Saturday morning, to which Donila replied, “Again your level of unprofessionalism is outstanding! Just make up something. It’s what you do best. You’re the expert.” The News Sentinel article by Whetstone and Allie Feinberg quoted those exchanges.”

“It also quoted from a subsequent text Donila sent to Whetstone’s cell phone, which we will quote in full for context (typos are in original, which Donila said was because he was using voice-to-text): “What is seriously wrong with you? Do those skinny jeans cut off the circulation to your brain? You have been emailing us questions all week and we have gone out of our way to not only find you answers but to find other sources. who are Long since gone from the county for you to interview. And then last night and this morning you email more questions with a bullshit deadline for a non-breaking story. You know I don’t get a lot of sleep and I’m up late at night so maybe I’ll start returning your calls at three or 4 AM and wake you all up. Grow up and quit being an asshole.””

“Donila said that he and Whetstone have had a longstanding “gentleman’s agreement” that text messages between the two of them are off the record unless otherwise agreed, so he said he was surprised to see the text message quoted. But he said he did not regret it, and went further in a conversation on Monday.”

“”Tyler Whetstone is the shadiest, most unethical reporter I’ve ever met,” Donila said. “Further, in my journalism career, I have never met an editor who wouldn’t have fired someone like him on the spot for the stunts he pulls. That shows you how classy the News Sentinel operation is.””

“In response, News Sentinel Executive Editor Joel Christopher said, “It’s the most basic task of journalists to ask straightforward questions about whether the county is prepared for any outcome in a process about providing a lifesaving service to residents. I’m baffled by the erratic and evasive responses from a public servant whose job it is to provide information to taxpayers, and leave it up to people to draw their own conclusions about why that’s been the mayor’s office strategy.””

“Donila was an award-winning and hardheaded reporter himself for many years before going to work for Knox County in 2017, at outlets including the News Sentinel and WBIR News. Those of us who knew him then can attest that government work hasn’t changed much about his propensity to speak his mind.”

“But he did send a follow-up statement, with a somewhat more diplomatic tone: “It’s not about answering questions. It’s about the KNS ambush tactics. For weeks, we answered every single one of their questions. It was more about their timing. Professionalism goes both ways. That said, we always welcome their questions.””

So now you have context and it seems that Donila is a normal dude.

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