It’s not often that two well-known journalists square off over what the other writes. But that’s what’s happening with Lakota writers Tim Giago and Chuck Trimble. Many of us on Facebook have been privy to some of the e-mails shared between Giago and Trimble. I was bit shocked at Giago’s recent e-mail he sent to Trimble. I’ve known Trimble to be a fact-based reporter. Giago, however, has taken issue with Trimble’s reporting. Giago, 75, told Trimble, 74, not to be surprised if he knocked him on his ass the next time he saw him. He also called Trimble an “insignificant nobody.” The vitriol is a little scary. Moreover, it’s ironic considering Giago is giving the HOPE Conference welcome Dec. 18 in Rapid City, S.D. The conference organizers are promoting the event as “healing for our people everwhere, seeking the courage to heal.”
As a journalist, I hope these two men will soon heal their differences. For now, I can’t believe what I’m reading. In time, the real man in this sad scenario will rise as the true and ethical American Indian voice in journalism. The men’s columns in response to each other can be found on Indianz.com. Or look at my previous post here on Buffalo’s Fire for links to their columns.
Here’s the full script of the e-mail and Facebook comments recently shared by Trimble:
Below is recent correspondence, via e-mail, between Tim Giago and me following publication of my column on indianz.com “Facts, Truth and Ethics in Native Journalism”. I think they speak volumes on our differences.
In my columns I have not questioned or criticized Mr. Giago out of jealousy, or hatred, or religious zeal, or any other reason he tends to accuse me of. And I have never attacked him personally, although I have poked fun at his foibles. Every column I’ve written about Tim had to do with facts that he has misstated, distorted or exaggerated, and I only write about those I see as abusive to journalistic ethics or offensive to history. If anyone would like to come to my office, I would gladly share every column I have ever written about Tim and I would show where each of my comments about him are verified, most of which are taken from his own past columns, editorials, or books.
Unlike Tim, I will not stop writing about what I see as his abuses of the powerful tools of journalism for his own glorification, vengeance, or gratification. Judge for yourselves.
The following is an e-mail I got from Mr. Giago soon after my column was published on indianz.com, and the bottom one is my response a day later. (I am the Wobbie he refers to, the name which he uses when he wants to embarrass me. It’s a nickname that many people on the reservation know me by, so I don’t mind at all. It’s usually used by close friends, which obviously is not the case in these communications from Tim).
From: Editor Native Sun Weekly <email@example.com>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Sent: Tue, Nov 24, 2009 10:07 am
“Wobbie: You are such a two-faced liar. I ignored your lying, two-faced apology after reading your email to Phyllis White Eyes and I am going to ignore your latest diatribe. Why are you so jealous of me? You could have done all of the things I did in my life, but your pettiness and lies have hogtied you. Please keep writing all of your bullshit because every where I travel in Indian country you are coming off as a real, genuine asshole. You can’t hurt me and I won’t waste the space returning any of your lying comments. So climb back into your scummy hole where the rats live because you should be real comfortable there with your peers. And if I ever run into you in person, please don’t be surprised if I knock you on your lying ass. Oops! Maybe I shouldn’t do that because to old men fighting over nothing is pretty idiotic. You are such an insignificant nobody and your attacks on me are making you even less than that in the eyes of many Indians. Wake up Wobbie. You are making a complete ass of yourself and what you say – nobody cares.”
Sent: Wed, Nov 25, 2009 8:02 am
I waited a while to answer your angry threatening e-mail because I wanted to read it over and think about it. My problem with you Tim is your failure to check facts. I think you could not name one instance of what I write about you being a lie. I am careful to have proof, and most of the proof I have is what you yourself have written. In a letter to the Teton Times, you said that I amna fanatical Catholic, not knowing that I have not been to church in a long, long time, with the exception of funerals. You made a statement but didn’t check the facts.
I had taken an early interest in your unique approach to journalism and have many files of what I consider falsehoods or inaccuracies. I have every issue of the Lakota Times and materials from the Rupert Costo archives that contradict things you write. You are a talented and intelligent person, and I don’t understand why you think you should tell so many untruths, such as the story of giving the name Crusaders to the HRM team. My name was not listed on the letter to the editors from the nine HRM alumni who disputed your claim, but as soon as I read your article I said to myself that the person who named it was Tony Brave, not Tim. That is no big issue, but it demonstrates that you will lie or exaggerate on even the simplest things. It is insulting to the many of us who know the truth. When I apologized to you for mistakenly sending you the letter I intended for Phyllis DeCory, I meant it. But I never promised you or anyone that I would not respond to things in your columns I consider lies or inaccuracies or unethical. I only said that I would refrain from what you are always calling “attacks.”
I am not surprised that some people, perhaps many, think I am jealously attacking you, and think that I am, as you put it, an “asshole.” I accept people’s right to express their opinion of me or my writing. But I will not stop writing on what I see as lies, exaggerations, inaccuracies or unethical actions on your part. I am not a self-styled police of journalistic ethics, but I think I am a serious columnist.
I tremble (no pun intended) at the thought of getting “knocked on my ass,” as Giago threatened to do. He’s 75 years old and I’m 74, and both of us have had quadruple bypass surgery in recent years. But what a fight it would be. Like the Ali-Frazier battles of the 1970s – the “Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire, and the “Thrilla in Manila” in the Philippines, perhaps this could be the “Battle of the Wheezing Geezers,” pitting Tim “the Pit Chihuahua” Giago against Wobbie “Rez Mutt” Trimble. It would be a one round match with canes or crutches, survivor-take-all, and would be broadcast nationwide on KILI-TV and KINI Radio.
Charles “Wobbie” Trimble, Oglala Lakota, was born, raised and superbly educated on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. His “insignificant nobody” life includes being principal founder of the American Indian Press Association in 1970 (forerunner of the Native American Press Association), and executive director of the National Congress of American Indians from 1972-78. He has received four Pulitzers, three H.L. Menken Awards, two Nobel Prizes, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, but requests that you please refrain from calling him nasty names or threatening him.
Thats’s all for now folks.