When I worked at WUWM and WTMJ I was a member of the Milwaukee Press Club for many years. I was on the board and even served as President for two terms. I let my membership lapse after I left WTMJ and began working for the state Senate.
As a Press Club board member I was heavily involved in discussions about who should receive the club’s annual Sacred Cat award. From the club’s website:
The Sacred Cat Award is named after the club mascot Anubis, the mummified cat, and recognizes excellence in journalism at the national level. It is presented each spring at the Gridiron banquet, which also honors winners of the club’s Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism competition and a Headliner award winner. The Sacred Cat award has been given annually since 1973, with broadcast journalist Peter Arnett receiving the inaugural award and some of the country’s greatest journalists and media leaders receiving it since then. The Press Club’s board of governors and the Gridiron Committee collaborate in the selection of a Sacred Cat.
I recall being scoffed at by my colleagues when I suggested Rush Limbaugh receive the award.
Shortly after I left the club and had no say in the matter the award was given to Matt Lauer in 1998. At the time I thought it was a terrible choice because Lauer was still too new, had not established himself or a great body of substantive work, and quite frankly was just another in a long line of TV hosts. Since I certainly didn’t equate him with the likes of a previous winner like Walter Cronkite I would have noted no if I could have. I wasn’t impressed then and haven’t been since.
I’m curious to see what, if anything, the club will now do or even say about Lauer’s firing for sexual misconduct.