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Flyer Flashback

To mark the Flyer's 20th anniversary, we're looking back at stories from our first two decades.

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In contrast to the currently shining star of newly inaugurated president Barack Obama, his predecessor as Democratic presidential nominee, Massachusetts senator John Kerry, has faded into relative obscurity. But in the first week of February 2004, Kerry was all the rage in political circles, having just won the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

The Flyer, having documented Kerry's wins with front-row coverage from both places, was on the case here locally as the Democrats' new hope prepared to head south for the coming week's Tennessee primary. Freshly endorsed by state senator Steve Cohen, Kerry would turn up for a late-week rally in the company of 9th District congressman Harold Ford Jr. Meanwhile, Kerry rivals John Edwards and Wesley Clark already had touched down in Memphis for personal appearances, making their pitch for what was expected to be a heavy Democratic vote in Memphis.

Nor were local politics being overlooked. In the Flyer's issue for that first week in February was a Q&A with various Memphis civic and political figures, who were queried about what Mayor Willie Herenton, who had verbally all but declared war on his City Council at the mayor's traditional New Year's Day Prayer Breakfast, might do to mend fences with the council.

Former mayor Wyeth Chandler gave advice which was destined to be ignored: "He should say he regrets anything he said that demeans [the council members'] activities as members of a legislative body, and that he considers their rank equal to the executive branch and he intends to deal with them."

But not all of the Flyer's focus was on the public sector. In a foreshadowing of an issue that has become ever more prominent in the intervening five years, former Commercial Appeal music critic Larry Nager filed suit against his former employers at the Cincinnati Enquirer, charging their firing of him was an instance of a "concerted effort to replace older reporters and columnists." — Jackson Baker

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