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VQR debacle hits ‘Today’ show

by Hawes Spencer
published 9:36am Monday Aug 23, 2010
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news-waldotodayshow-mJaquith: “It was a toxic environment for Kevin.”

The controversial suicide of an editor at UVA’s top literary journal made it to one of America’s most high-profile news programs Monday, the Today show on NBC. Including an in-studio interview with an expert, the program devoted nearly six minutes to the topic of workplace bullying, a phenomenon allegedly on display by boss Ted Genoways that some claim led to the death of 52-year-old Kevin Morrissey.

The 7:43am broadcast marked the first public comment by Waldo Jaquith, the usually outspoken blogger and VQR employee who has maintained a relative silence on the allegations since Morrissey’s July 30 death.

“It was a toxic environment for Kevin,” Jaquith told interviewer Jeff Rossen. “Ted’s treatment of Kevin in the last two weeks of his life was egregious, and it just ate Kevin up.”

Genoways’ lawyer Lloyd Snook also appeared on the program to defend his client. “Ted Genoways was not a workplace bully,” said Snook. “When Kevin Morrissey committed suicide, it was some combination of unhappiness at work combined with his own longstanding clinical depression.”

Morrissey’s sister, Maria, who was also interviewed for the piece, was generally pleased with the coverage, but wanted to point out an important error.

“They said Kevin’s suicide note blamed Ted,” says Morrissey, who sent Today show producers a copy of the note, “but that’s not true. No where in that note does it blame Ted or anyone else.”

Interestingly, Genoways lambasted Today show reporter Jeff Rossen in an editor’s note for the fall 2004 issue of the VQR, calling him a “smarmy reporter” with an “insatiable thirst for the most vicarious thrill and an aching desire to be first, not a sense of duty to be most considered and most correct.”

with additional reporting by Dave McNair

To comment on this story, please go to the Hook’s original story: Tale of Woe: The Death of the VQR’s Kevin Morrissey.

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