Best Newspaper Columnist

Richard Callow

Although Mayor Francis Slay's favorite poison-pen PR assassin never gets a byline, it's impossible to read a Jerry Berger column these days without stepping into item after item shoveled into the maw of Bergermeister's prime newsprint pit by none other than the Callow One. Truth is, spotting the items ghosted by Callow has become a bigger sport among the city's political cognoscenti than tallying up the bold-faced name droppings or the dings and darts der Berger throws at his critics. The learned reader knows that shamelessly one-sided and often inaccurate fawnings over the programs and policies of Mayor Francis Slay come directly from the brain of Callow, the live-in boyfriend of Barb Geisman, Slay's deputy mayor for development.

Callow's well-known position as Berger's ghostwriter is one of the prime reasons people fear him and put him on the payroll -- even if it otherwise isn't in their best interests to do so. Why this is so says more about this town's fear of the truth and its preoccupation with maintaining appearances than it does about the efficacy of Callow's Simon Bar-Sinister act. It also says a lot about a Post-Dispatch environment that allows Berger and his ghost. Callow's power hinges on perception, fear and the knowledge that he's Jerry's stringer. Apologies to Bill McClellan and a number of other top-flight pros who practice an honest craft.

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