Bob Freeman, director of the state Committee on Open Government, was fired Monday for allegedly sexually assaulting a female reporter.
Freeman had been a resource for newsrooms and local governments for years. He was a helpful resource to me.
Any time I had to make an appeal for a freedom of information law request denial, he was on the other end of the phone, giving me a quote and citing the law. It was refreshing, to say the least, when most state agencies make you go through a press office.
But that would take all of two minutes. The other 10, 15 or 20 minutes, he would tell me about a little girl he grew up with, who was also named Gwen. He would tell me about his grandchildren. He would ask me about my time in Auburn at The Citizen, where I was from, what were my plans for the weekend. He was friendly, and in the journalism world where sometimes things are too to the point, I thought it was nice to chat.
If I turned the conversation back to my open government question, I remember him telling me that I sounded sweet and charming, and that I should be able to get what I need by using that to my advantage. Then, he'd rush out a line or two of the law that I'd scramble to type.
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He had told me to stop by his office in Albany the next time I was driving home to see my parents. He scolded me once for not going to his open meetings talk, which had been held nearby Auburn.
None of this struck me as particularly strange.
I'm so sorry to hear about the experiences women have had, stories held tight that are now emerging, but I was struck by the number of journalists tweeting out how they "idolized" Freeman. I think it's dangerous to idolize anyone.
— Gwendolyn Craig