Frommer responds to criticism of ‘Good Morning America’ interview about Asheville

Pauline Frommer on Good Morning America

Responding to a torrent of local criticism over comments she made recently on “Good Morning America” about Asheville, Pauline Frommer says the TV segment was a matter of good intentions gone awry.

“Doing live TV is difficult and I, unfortunately, accidentally conflated some developments,” says Frommer, who serves as the popular travel guide’s editorial director. “I never meant to say that the riverside area was recently sketchy or that it’s sketchy right now.”

During the Jan. 1 live national television broadcast, Frommer touted Asheville as this year’s top travel destination “because the sketchy riverside area has been totally redone thanks to the New Belgium Brewery, which has poured millions of dollars into this area, making new parks, artists collectives, farmers markets, bike paths.” Subsequent local media reports and commenters noted that New Belgium Brewing is nearly a year away from opening and the river area was a tourist and artist haven long before the brewery chose to build there.

New Belgium’s local spokeswoman Susanne Hacket told Asheville Blog: “It’s absolutely inaccurate for Frommer’s to credit New Belgium for the awesomeness of the River Arts District. We did not source this story and were not contacted by anyone regarding our inclusion in it or to fact check.”

The live interview aside, Frommer points to a corresponding article on the travel guide’s website that she says is a more accurate report. Frommer also says that she’s been to Asheville a couple of times herself and loves it. “It’s one of the most beautiful cities in America. It’s rich in arts and culture and a wonderful place to go,” she says. “We’re huge fans of Asheville at Frommers and really wanted to shine a positive light on the city. That was our only intention. I would hope that this publicity would help more people discover the beauties of Asheville and how wonderfully, culturally rich it is.”

Still Sketchy
Image 420 Screenprinting created this graphic in response to Frommer’s ‘Good Morning America’ interview.

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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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27 thoughts on “Frommer responds to criticism of ‘Good Morning America’ interview about Asheville

  1. cliff

    Thank you, Jake, for being such a responsible journalist and asking Frommer to clarify her remarks. It was a poorly written story. Sometimes that happens. Hopefully by her taking the time to respond to you and acknowledging her team’s error some of the vitriol that has been unleashed in the comments of this site and others will die down. In a perfect world we would see those accusers of wrongdoing take the same high road and admit their errors.

  2. Jonathan Wainscott

    Spin it and make it all about the “sketchy” comment. Don’t mention that the thing you told everyone to go see isn’t there at all. Boy, she really took a lot of time to “clarify” things. Poor little lady got all flustered on national teeveee.

    Oh, BTW Rich, I mean, “Cliff”, I believe you had a call in to Frommer’s. What did Pauline tell you when she called you back?

  3. Jonathan Wainscott

    Oh, and little tidbit, Susanne Hackett, New Belgium’s community liaison here in Asehville, was the Secretary of the River Arts District Business Association when she first landed her gig at New Belgium. Again, this wasn’t a piece done by journalists as Pauline Frommer said in the intro. It was a PR driven piece. Even the original write up of Asheville by Frommer’s was 25% about New Belgium.

    So, watch this video of Pauline Frommer and go to time marker 3:45 and listen to the next 30 seconds or so. Frommer’s guide is all about the use of real journalism by local reporters to really get the best information to their customers. The GMA thing wasn’t just getting a fact or two mixed up. This whole report was completely off base and it has nothing to do with calling the “old” riverside sketchy. It was sketchy. Remember the ice storage building and the murder there? All the arson that occurred there over the years? Kyle Wilson? I went out and filmed the area the day after this crap came out ant there are homeless people camping right below New Belgium’s construction. Hell, the use of the word “sketchy” was the most accurate thing that came out of Pauline’s beer hole.

      • LMH

        Waiting patiently for Mr Wainscott to find another outlet for his hostility and boastful rantings. I just knew he would have negative comment about this topic. Can the Mountain Express moderators PLEASE RESTRICT the frequency of his posts?

        • Rob formerly known as "guest"

          The man didn’t say anything out of line. Isn’t AVL supposed to be all enlightened, liberal, and tolerant? Where is your tolerance today? So ready are the youth of AVL to protest but then want to shut someone down when they don’t like what is being said! Asheville is in America right?

          • Jim

            Bahahaha, a bunch of pseudo commies is what the progressive loons are. Free speech? LOL. You got the tools trying to ban smoking cigs in public much less ban anything and everything they don’t subscribe to. Figures that the Riverlink tax money leeches would be entrenched in the here.

          • Left AVL

            Asheville is a pool of debt, hiding behind tons of hype about being a beautiful city. People are stoned, drunk and poor – not broke – POOR. Their egos are so inflated about being badass, while they’re defending something that’s not worth defending. They are all ALWAYS defensive, rude and crude. Behind all the prettiness of AVL is a larger seediness, that has spread like a cancer. It’s a sad place to visit and live. Not an opinion, a fact: One of the biggest homeless populations in the US. The biggest industry over their medicine and hospitality communitues, is BREWERIES, haha!

          • Rob formerly known as "guest"

            Left AVL, it IS sad. I was just having such a conversation with my wife in the last couple of weeks. We love AVL as the land. We do not love its politics, we do not love the high cost of living. AVL cost 8% more than living in CLT yet on average pays 5% less than CLT. AVL cost of living index is 115%, that is 15% higher than the national average, that being the baseline at 100%.

            I am not an economist, I learned this while researching other places to live as we prepare our family for a possible move.

            I have seen enough in the news to believe the city of avl government is corrupt to the end that it has damaged our community as it is today.

        • Dionysis

          You do know that no one is compelled to read anyone’s post, right? And calling for restrictions on what people can write is not a good idea. Moderators should deal with abusive or other inappropriate comments, but otherwise, everyone should be free to believe and express whatever they want. It’s called the ‘marketplace of ideas’. Not a new concept, but one that keeps getting targeted by those who just don’t like whatever the message might be.

          • Rob formerly known as "guest"

            Thank you! Yes but more importantly its our right as guaranteed by the Firtst Ammendment!

  4. TH

    Ok to be fair, I would never feel comfortable trolling the riverside area alone, after dark. In fact when I took some night classes at AB Tech I would sometimes go that way during the day if traffic was backed up on the interstate but I would not consider it an option after dark because I simply would not be comfortable there if my car broke down. So to me, it IS sketchy. Just as are parts of downtown are. Just as are parts of any sizeable town are. Granted that’s not something you necessarily blurb about on National TV because it certainly wouldn’t help our tourism but as far as I am concerned, it is true…

    • alive

      if you’re scared after dark in avl, i can’t imagine how you’d react to the rest of the world after dark

      • th

        I have walked the streets of europe after dark just fine thank you very much. And put me in a rural community or in the woods after dark and I am good. Put me walking alongside a bunch of rundown abandoned buildings next to a littered road. No thanks.

      • Jim

        Tell that to the victim of the beatdown and rape at the bus terminal in downtown several weeks ago. At 1AM in the morning with plenty of people around.

  5. Joe Minicozzi

    “Among cities with no particular recreational appeal, those that have preserved their past continue to enjoy tourism. Those that haven’t receive almost no tourism at all. Tourism simply doesn’t go to a city that has lost its soul.” – Arthur Frommer

    • Agreed, Joe. I’d go even further to say that the sketchy element is part of Asheville’s soul. If we keep whitewashing the flavor of our city away by driving the local characters and artists further out of town with tony skyscrapers and skyrocketing rents, we’ll just be another spot on the map of the United States of Generica.

  6. Sam

    Asheville has been my home for many years, I was even naturalized in Asheville. Asheville is and always has been my home, and I never felt more secure in any other city. Asheville has it’s own charme and it’s soul. If Asheville had more jobs to offer in my line of work, I would never have left Asheville. And I agree 100% with David Lynch, it’s near impossible nowadays to make a decent living in Asheville, with low income but high expenses. :(

    • Rob formerly known as "guest"

      NO KIDDING!!! This is not sustainable. Some of us have to work 2 jobs to make ends meet. The cost of living in Asheville is 8% higher than Charlotte and Charlotte pays 15% more than Asheville…driving out the middle class…

  7. Jay

    I enjoy the publicity to a degree – definitely have mixed feelings.
    Biggest positive- helps our local economy.
    Biggest negative – infrastructure (read I-26, and, increasingly 191 and 25) is having lots of trouble keeping up.


  8. #Privilege of the Pretty People. We see it happen in local Government all the time. Waving a fee for Biltmore with a slap on the back. They separate and divide as if to deny the dark actions of their doings. Shedding light on their ways will bring that composted land to growth.

  9. Dionysis

    “Thank you! Yes but more importantly its our right as guaranteed by the Firtst Ammendment!”

    The First Amendment is the most important Amendment. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the Bill of Rights applies only to ‘government’, which “shall not infringe” upon these rights. As a private entity, the publication can do as it wishes. The first Ten Amendments do not apply to private organizations.

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