Last week was a busy week in the courtroom for the age discrimination lawsuit by Plain Dealer critic Donald Rosenberg against the Plain Dealer and the Cleveland Orchestra. Susan Goldberg testified that her decision to reassign Rosenberg was not a “knee-jerk reaction”, but was carefully considered over fourteen months. In response to questions about an alleged personal vendetta on the part of Rosenberg against Franz Welser-Möst, Goldberg replied:
“Mr. Sindell, this is not a music problem, this is a journalism problem,” said Goldberg, who acknowledged that she did not have classical music training. “And I’m well qualified to make that decision, as are other editors in my office.”
Goldberg was asked by Sindell: “Why do you think my client had a personal vendetta against Franz Welser-Most?”
Goldberg answered that Rosenberg “had become just too wrapped up in the orchestra and did not have the professional distance that we ask everyone to have — whether covering baseball or architecture.”
She also told the jury that Rosenberg had begun approaching concerts conducted by Welser-Most with a closed mind.
“It would be like a restaurant reviewer deciding the steak is tough before he even goes to the restaurant,” Goldberg said. “He puts Welser-Most into a hole before a note is even played.”
An article published on the Plain Dealer web site on July 23, summarizes what has gone on, including the testimony by former Washington Post music critic Tim Page about Rosenberg’s national reputation as a music critic. The article also contains the rather sensational allegation of “reporter shopping” on the part of Cleveland Orchestra officials to get the Plain Dealer to send reporter Zachary Lewis (who was eventually assigned to review the Orchestra concerts after Rosenberg was deposed) to a news conference announcing coming season programs, instead of Rosenberg. Susan Goldberg characterizes the practice as “icky” and “sleazy” but “not uncommon.”
It appears that the trial will be winding down in the next week or so.