“Seriously” Elizabeth Grattan, You Should Have Known Better

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This content originally appeared on my former Chicagosphere online-media blog, hosted on the Chicago Tribune‘s ChicagoNow network.

Chicago radio talent/producer Elizabeth Grattan (tweeting as @elizabethdamaro) turned herself into a story lede over New Year’s weekend. Like me, she’s a loud-mouthed, late-30s media insider. And that means she should have known better.

On January 2, the Sun-Times reported a “highly intoxicated” Grattan got herself arrested for smashing a front window and breaking into her ex-boyfriend’s Old Town apartment during a New Year’s Eve party. When the police arrived, Grattan made matters worse by holding them at bay and refusing to be removed. Now she has a January 25th date in Misdemeanor Court. But wait, because that’s so not all…

Once sober, Grattan took to her personal blog to rail on her ex-boyfriend, the Chicago police–and most importantly, any members of the public trying to learn her side of the story. According to a recent blog post entitled, “Seriously?”, Grattan says she was only doing what any recently jilted, former live-in girlfriend would do when invited to a New Year’s party at the home she used to share with her ex and finding him in bed with another woman. (Did you get all that?) That is, she got drunk and threw a drink in his face–at which point he threw her out the door. Of course she smashed and climbed through the window, Grattan says–how else was she supposed to get her coat back? (Apology? Doorbell? Perhaps calling the police, herself?)

Oh, and by the way, you and the media are stupid for bothering to have an interest in the story. As Grattan wrote in the same post:

“…you have got to be kidding? I discovered earlier today that the Sun Times picked up this story and claimed it as their online front page news. Without fact checking, mind you. The ‘journalists’ apparently didn’t take the time to realize that this was a ‘non story’ from most regards. THey could have covered the treatment of those being held by the Chicago PD. They could have contacted me directly. The way I’ve seen the media pick this up is just – disgusting…

This blog has not seen trffic like this, ever. In fact, even when I was mass marketing my company, I never got traffic as this. Over 1000 hits in less than an hour at one point. And they are still pouring in. Now, I know that is still small potatoes, but seriously?…We aren’t talking about anything more than a scorned lover, a betrayal of friend, a broken window, and police force and daunting. That’s about it.

It’s a ‘non story’ folks. Written by myself because I share even my ‘non stories’ – because life is interesting…If I’d thought for one second that I’d be gaining this kind of publicity, I’d have overhauled all of it before I found you here looking. Come on.”

Come on? Come now, Elizabeth.

As a self-professed media and marketing professional with multiple personal and professional websites crowing all about her, Grattan made herself into a public figure, minor in stature though she may be. When a public figure–much less a member of the media–gets drunk and breaks into an apartment, that’s news. In fact, breaking and entering generally is newsworthy, period, no matter who’s doing it.

And though Grattan may be a “scorned lover”, there’s really nothing acceptable about bloodying yourself (as the Sun-Times reported you managed to do) by smashing and climbing through a window to stumble, drunken, back into a private home where you don’t live and from which you’ve just been ejected–due to battery, no less.

Attempting to portray that kind of incident as a normal, everyday occurrence is pure spin–and not convincing spin, either. For anyone to believe Grattan, behavior like hers would have to be a far more common occurrence, not to mention acceptable. I could be wrong. If anyone out there has a.) ever had an ex-lover break in through a window, and if so b.) didn’t call the police, feel free to inform my perspective on this.

While those crickets chirp in response to my above query, I wonder what, exactly, Grattan is blaming news reporters for here? For simply doing their job? Or for uncovering her apparently enormous misunderstanding of how her own industry works?

Worst of all, in Grattan’s zeal to prove how right she was and how wrong everyone else was, she told the public-at-large–this means you, dear reader–they should be ashamed of themselves for even following the story at all.

Hello? Is this thing on? Any communications strategist would say when faced with an embarrassingly public crisis like this, be open, be honest, be apologetic, and for heaven’s sake, don’t piss off the public. And considering how bad Grattan’s actions have made her look already, she could probably use some public support right now. She’s not going to help make that happen by insulting innocent onlookers.

That, however, is exactly what Grattan did with her ill-conceived, obviously quickly authored blog post. Too bad. In fact, Grattan’s is a great story–because it exemplifies lots of actions public figures and media mavens should best avoid in order not to turn themselves into a headline. Or a punch line, for that matter.

So Elizabeth, next time (and why do I think there will be a next time?) you might want to keep a few pointers in mind: Don’t drink to excess in public. Keep your liquor in your own glass and off the face of your ex. Avoid burglary. Don’t backtalk your arresting officers. Don’t try to justify actions taken in public when drunk off your ass.

Don’t call the media stupid just for doing their jobs. (This is an important one, since your actions and mouth helped the story go viral. Nationally.)

And above all, when you have your very own soapbox from which to help undo all the damage you’ve done to your personal life and potentially to your career, don’t use it instead to tell John and Jane Q. Public–your potential allies and supporters–that there’s something wrong with them for trying to learn your side of the story.

Seriously, oh self-professed media professional Elizabeth. You should have known better.

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