2010-03-08 18:33:36 UTC
Association who was a key figure in gaining approval of the
controversial $585 million convention center, sent the kind of "joke"
email last night -- comparing First Lady Michelle Obama to Tarzan's
Cheeta -- that might stop even Michael Richards in his tracks.
Here is the Email:
Quoting Larry the Cable Guy...I don't care who you are, this is
I was at the store yesterday, and I ran into Tarzan! I asked him how
it was going and if he was into anymore movies.??
He told me that he could no longer make any more movies as he had
severe arthritis in both shoulders and could no longer swing from vine
??I asked how Jane was doing, he told me she was in bad shape, in a
nursing home, has Alzheimer's and no longer recognizes anyone, how
sad. I asked about Boy, and he told me that Boy had gone to the big
city, got hooked up with bad women, drugs, alcohol, and the only time
he heard from him was if he was in trouble or needed something.?
I asked about Cheeta, he beamed and said she was doing good, had
married a Lawyer and now lived in the White House!!!
(In the Tarzan movies Cheeta is chimp.)
Baker forwarded the racist missive -- introduced with this: "Quoting
Larry the Cable Guy ... I don't care who you are, this is funny" -- to
12 prominent Nashvillians, including mayoral legislative aide Toby
Compton, Nashville Convention & Visitors' Bureau head Butch Spyridon,
lobbyists Joe Hall and Peter Heidenreich, former Scene editor and
publisher, respectively, Bruce Dobie and Albie Del Favero, and
Nashville Post reporter Ken Whitehouse.
Coming from a hospitality czar, the post didn't strike recipients as
LATEST UPDATE, 3/6: Baker sent a one-word follow-up email to the
original recipients Friday afternoon. It read only, "Sorry."
And today, the publicly funded CVB announced it's canceling its
$50,000 marketing contract with Baker's company. Here's the statement
today from CVB president Butch Spyridon:
"On behalf of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, I apologize
for the offensive email sent yesterday by Tennessee Hospitality
Association CEO Walt Baker. As a recipient of the email, I am
embarrassed for my organization and myself. The content is deeply
hurtful to all Nashvillians and beyond. The attitudes expressed in the
email are both appalling and unacceptable, and are not shared or
condoned in anyway by the NCVB or by me personally.
Nashville's hospitality industry has worked tirelessly to create a
welcoming environment for our visitors and this behavior discredits
the work done by so many. After serious consideration, the NCVB has
terminated its contract with Mr. Baker's marketing agency, Mercatus
Communications. I have communicated this action and my deep regrets
about the email to the Mayor's Office and other hospitality industry