Dueling statements: Is this really necessary?

The sniping-via-statements heated up again on Tuesday as AMPTP prexy Nick Counter responded to a report on the WGA’s Strike Rules Committee urging  members to inform the guild if they have suspicions about scab writing taking place.

“The WGA is using fear and intimidation to control its membership,” Counter said in a statement emailed to reporters Tuesday afternoon. “Asking members to inform on each other and creating a blacklist of those who question the tactics of the WGA leadership is as unacceptable today as it was when the WGA opposed these tactics in the 1950s.”

Not surprisingly, the WGA West later returned fire:

“Mr. Counter’s charge is as offensive as it is untrue,” guild said in a statement. “To accuse the Writers Guild of America of blacklisting, when it was we who suffered the most from it in the past, is simply Mr. Counter’s desperate attempt to divert attention from the fact that it was he who walked out of the negotiations, and it is he who refuses every day to return to the table. The WGA has an offer on the table and is ready and willing to meet with the AMPTP any day, anywhere.”

Without wading into the issue of how the WGA should, or should not, seek to enforce its strike rules, it is clear to us sideline observers that this is not the kind of talking the sides need to be doing.

From my conversations Tuesday, it seems neither side has much hope that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be able to do much to defuse this volatile situation now that he’s reaching out to both camps. The one hopeful bit of rumbling that’s been consistent in recent days is that a handful of the town’s top tenpercenters, who have much at stake, are working overtime, and stealthily, to get the sides back to the bargaining table. Let’s hope their collective powers of persuasion can do some good.

–Cynthia Littleton

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