Archive for the ‘ President Barack Obama ’ Category

THE “60 MINUTES” FIASCO: BEEN THERE, SEEN THAT

The news media enjoys nothing more than beating up its own. And Sixty Minutes is no exception. Joining in the gang bang is unfair. But anyone who has read my blog knows I’m unfair. So I’ll join the fray.

Since 60 Minutes’ debut 46-plus years ago in September 1968, I’ve missed very few segments. My affinity for the program is enhanced by the fact  that several friends and acquaintances have worked with the show. Currently, two former colleagues during my ten year tenure as Senior Correspondent in CNN’s 50-member investigative unit are now award-winning 60 Minutes producers.

In the late 1980’s when I was Baton Rouge’s mini-Mike Wallace, the show’s then Executive Producer Don Hewitt opted not to hire me. Instead, I was recruited by CNN—the equivalent of the obscurity found in the federal Witness Protection Program. Don Hewitt, Mike Wallace and other 60 Minutes pioneers have since gone to the big network in the sky and the Sunday night staple has pretty much gone to hell.

An exception are segments produced by my friends, Graham Messick and Henry Schuster. Admittedly, I’m prejudice. But their journalism prizes supports my judgment. I only wish they were involved in producing Lara Logan’s Benghazi segment that was retracted because the principle source lied. The story apparently was not adequately fact-checked before airing.

Worse, Logan previously criticized the Obama Administration’s handling of Benghazi while speaking before a group in Chicago in October 2012 (a month after the terrorist attack).  ”When I look at what’s happening in Libya, there’s a big song and dance about whether this was a terrorist attack or a protest. And you just want to scream, ‘for God’s sake, are you kidding me?’” In other words, she had a strong point of view before producing the segment—a no, no in responsible investigative reporting.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/cbs-news-and-reporter-lara-logan-face-brutal-criticism-on-flawed-benghazi-report/2013/11/11/b2f55d8c-4b1f-11e3-ac54-aa84301ced81_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

No doubt, many right-wingers share Lara Logan’s point of view—the most prominent being California GOP congressman Darrell Issa who has taken on the job of Republican ‘hit man” while obsessively trying to do in President Obama with endless investigations, including Benghazi.

Until he gained prominence in Congress, Issa was best known for beating criminal raps including multiple allegations of  Grand Theft auto and an accusation of torching a factory he owned to collect a fire insurance policy that had been increased by more than 400 percent three weeks prior to the blaze. Issa is not the kind of guy you trust to buy a cup of coffee with your Platinum American Express card.

Neither do I trust 60 Minutes now, and certainly not Lara Logan. But my faith in the granddaddy of television news magazine shows has been deteriorating for years. It’s selection of stories has become predictable. A hard news piece, a softer story and a profile.

The investigative prowess of 60 Minutes has always been overrated. The show often steals the work of other reporters and tells the story better than the original version. In some instances, especially books being promoted by CBS-owned publishers, the authors will be interviewed as part of segments.

Such was the case in the retracted Benghazi story. The main interview and principle source, Dylan Davies, is author of The Embassy House, an account of the tale he related to Lara Logan. Though not disclosed in the segment, the book was published by Simon & Schuster, a CBS subsidiary. So much for full disclosure. The publisher has recalled the book from stores.

The question now is what happens to those responsible for the 60 Minutes debacle? Hopefully not the fate of 60 Minutes 2, the weekday spin-off that was abandoned after airing the true story of military malingering by George W. Bush while protecting the U.S. from an invasion by Mexico when he served as a pilot in in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

Turned out that CBS anchor Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes were suckered by a counterfeit document purportedly outlining details of Bush’s misdeeds. Sloppy reporting. Overreaction by CBS which was under pressure from Republican bigwigs. And according to Mapes, the network is still trying to cozy up to the right-wing.

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Former-60-Minutes-Producer-by-Media-Matters-Benghazi-Attack_Conservative_Media_New

And that brings me to the headline of this post—my own experience with news magazine blunders. In 1998, our Special Assignment Unit produced a segment titled Valley of Death, more widely known as the Tailwind story. It was the premier piece on our new magazine program, NewsStand: CNN and Time on Assignment. The story accused the American military of using the nerve chemical Sarin during an evacuation in Laos of  a super-secret army unit from that was overrun by North Vietnamese soldiers.

I was not involved in producing or reporting the Tailwind segment. But our boss assigned me the task of trying to save it after CNN came under attack from the Pentagon and national news media, which piled on the network in the same manner as happened to CBS following the Bush story and the Benghazi report. Unfortunately, our segment was beyond salvation.

However, my reporting uncovered information suggesting that the story may actually have been accurate in some respects, but inaccurate in identifying the secret military unit involved and the place where the nerve chemical was used—Cambodia, not Laos. But CNN wanted no part in following the story. I was told to forget it—a prelude to my early retirement five months later.

As I related in my memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger, an epidemic of shrunken testicles spread through CNN’s executive suites in the wake of Tailwind resulting in the firing of two producers of the segment, the resignation our boss, Pamela Hill,  and the early exit of on-air correspondent Peter Arnett.

For those of you who have read this far, a couple of minutes later shouldn’t make much difference so I will include an excerpt of the book about the tiny balls of the folks running CNN at the time.

Twenty-five days after NewsStand’s disastrous debut, CNN President Tom Johnson fired April Oliver and Jack Smith. He also announced the resignation of Pamela Hill. The reasons were stated in a Tailwind critique.

“A decision was made by CNN to broadcast accusations of the gravest sort   without sufficient justification and in the face of substantial persuasive information to the contrary.”

The report was co-authored by CNN General Counsel David Kohler and Floyd Abrams, one of the nation’s leading First Amendment lawyers. It was released so hastily, a speed typist may have been recruited to put it in final form. Kohler was an anomalous critic. He gave final legal clearance for the segment.

I agree there were serious flaws in the “exposé.” But April Oliver, Jack Smith, Dave Kohler and others reviewing the supporting material believed the story to be accurate. Sources were considered reliable, particularly Admiral Moorer. But faith in sources can be perilous. Oftentimes, journalists unconsciously discount exculpatory inconsistencies. A firing offense? In the imperfect craft of investigative reporting, mistakes happen. Indeed, CNN’s post mortem admitted as much on its first page.

“Our central conclusion is that although the broadcast was prepared after exhaustive research, was rooted in considerable supportive data, and reflected the deeply held beliefs of the CNN journalists who prepared it, the central thesis of the broadcast could not be sustained at the time of the broadcast itself and cannot be sustained now.”

“Now” was a Monday morning meeting of quarterbacks. The admission that April and Jack did their best but reached the wrong conclusions isn’t reason sufficient to ruin careers and reputations. They were casualties of an inordinate level of journalistic cowardice. Rather than retract and apologize for imperfect reporting, April and Jack were hauled to a sacrificial altar. It was a rush to judgment to protect the network’s image.

Peter Arnett, the on-camera face of Tailwind, survived the initial cleansing. But not without insult. His minimal involvement resulted in a sharp public rebuke from Tom Johnson, who said it was unconscionable for a reporter to front a story that he failed to research. The statement was remarkable in its ignorance. TV correspondents consistently parrot the work of producers. If all news personalities did their own reporting, 60 Minutes would be on the air about once a year.

Nobody knew this better than Tom’s co-executioner, Rick Kaplan. As a former Executive Producer of ABC’s Prime Time and other personality-driven news programs, Kaplan supervised high-profile journalists who were often parachuted into stories at the last minute. Yet, he made no effort to defend Arnett. Nor did he defend producer Jack Smith―the man who years before, gave him one of his first television jobs. Worse, Jack found out he was fired in a Special Assignment conference call. Despite a promise by Tom Johnson that Jack and April would have a chance to review the critique, the hatchet fell without so much as a courtesy call.

For all intents and purposes, NewsStand was history after the Tailwind episode. It continued on for a few months, but lacked any substantive investigative reporting. Presumably, 60 Minutes will survive the current scandal. That is good news. Even at its worst, it is still better than other magazine shows.

The bad news is 60 Minutes is now what it is.

John Camp’s critically praised memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me, is available at amazon.com in either book or Kindle format, and at independent bookstores. It offers plenty of laughs, inside secrets of TV “journalism” and  brutal honesty about his battles with alcohol. The book is an account of a 30 year prize-winning investigative reporting career and the characters he encountered during the heyday of TV muckraking.

SEARCHING FOR OBAMACARE ANECDOTES

Let me say up front, I don’t have a clue whether the Affordable Care Act—aka Obamacare—will succeed or fail. Neither does anyone else. But on both sides of the aisle in Congress, there is hope. Most Democrats hope President Obama’s signature legislation succeeds. Most Republicans hope it fails. 

With the Administration’s website failures, the GOP is taking every opportunity to discredit a program designed to provide health care to millions of uninsured and/or under-insured Americans. That brings me to the role of the mainstream and not so mainstream media, both of which love conflict no matter the issue.

In college journalism classes—so I’m told since my only visit to these classes has been to lecture—budding reporters are encouraged to use anecdotes to explain complicated issues. ”Real life” yarns humanize stories making them easier to understand. But there is supposed to be context. That’s where the media fails, especially faux news organizations like Fox “News.”

A case in point is the recruitment of interview guests like a woman invited on several Fox programs to tell how she is losing her private coverage, causing her health insurance premiums will skyrocket if forced to enroll in the government program. It’s a true story. To a point.

The woman’s current insurance is virtually worthless, covering fifty dollar visits to doctors, generic prescriptions and not much else.  

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2013/10/28/three-fox-news-shows-called-fla-obamacare-detractor/?tid=hpModule_6c539b02-b270-11e2-bbf2-a6f9e9d79e19&hpid=z10

If this outspoken critic  of Obamacare falls and breaks her arm on the way to be interviewed by Fox and Friends, how friendly will the embecilic co-hosts be? Will they pay her bills? Her insurance company certainly won’t. It’s not part of the coverage.

Nor is fairness part of the Fox “News” coverage. That’s why the Republican Propaganda Network is viewed by folks who have never seen a half-full glass.

CNN makes an effort to be fair. But for the most part, it only manages to be stupid. As I’ve said many times before, I regularly feel the need to deny that I spent a decade with CNN as the network’s Senior Investigative Correspondent. Those were the days, my friend. But no more. CNN now devotes itself to being fodder for comic commentators like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/30/jon-stewart-cnn-good-or-bad_n_4177084.html

For the past couple of years, I’ve conducted classes for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, an LSU continuing education program known as OLLI. The subject of my classes is television news. Or what’s left of it. In the early minutes of my first class every semester I explain that we will be discussing “context,” the most important element in news reporting. Yet, it’s the missing link in contemporary television “journalism.”

Instead of context, TV viewers and to a lesser extent, newspaper readers are subjected to superficiality. There are two words that are a tip-off of lazy reporting, “could” and “may.” In reporting on the uncertainty about the success or failure of  Obamacare, we see the words often, mainly in speculative stories that are short on corroborating evidence to support the speculation.

I will therefore use the words in proper context. Obamacare “may” fail. Or it “could” succeed. Who knows? Certainly not the journalists, pundits and politicians, most of whom can’t wait to say, “told you so.”

While we wait for the end result months down the line, people on both sides of the health care issue rattle on, each offering individual anecdotes that in the broader context tell us nothing.

Although I’m covered by Medicare, Obamacare has added to my knowledge. I’ve come believe the greatest invention in all of mankind is the television mute button.

John Camp’s critically praised memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me, is available at amazon.com in either book or Kindle, and at independent bookstores. It offers plenty of laughs, inside secrets of TV “journalism” and  brutal honesty about his battles with alcohol. The book is an account of a prize-winning investigative reporting career and the characters  encountered during 30 years of muckraking.

BOBBY JINDAL PROPHESIZES GOP FATE

Bobby Jindal, allegedly the Governor of Louisiana despite spending more time collecting frequent flyer miles than governing, has gone beyond his Brown University exorcism ceremonies and become a prophet. Following the 2012 presidential election, Governor Smarty-Pants predicted the Republican Party was in danger of becoming the “Stupid Party”—a prophecy that was fulfilled this week by the GOP’s decision to shutdown of government because of opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

Even though Obamacare so-called was passed by both houses of Congress four years ago and its constitutionality upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Republican Representatives continue to kick and scream while rolling in the aisle of the House, thus leading Democrats to hope that a few of their red state colleagues will turn blue. Or at least a lighter shade of red.

I don’t ordinarily recommend serial adulterer Newt Gingrich as a political guru. He has said and done enough stupid things to qualify as a leader of the Stupid Party. But the former Republican Speaker knows what happened to his party following a government shutdown in 1995 and 1996. It was a boon to Democrats, who took control of both houses of Congress. And President Bill Clinton was re-elected despite ongoing bogus scandals stemming from partisan Whitewater-related investigations.

Most remarkable about the current debacle is the influence of the Tea Party, a minority of American malcontents, loudmouths and racists who have managed to elect a few Representatives in gerrymandered congressional districts. Based on the potential fate of many moderate Republicans who support the government shutdown, the GOP is in danger of becoming not only the Stupid Party, but rather the Kamikaze Party.

Either way, Jindal’s label of Stupid Party is evolving much faster than he expected. However I can’t give him too much credit as a prophet. After all, he was elected in a state where 29-percent of the Republicans recently told pollsters that freshman U.S. Senator Barack Obama was somehow responsible for delays in providing assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Hey, neighbors, I hate to mention a little technicality. But George W. Bush was President in 2005. Details, details. Who cares? Certainly not the Republican Party.

That’s why in 2016, the GOP may need a prophet to lead them. And Bobby Jindal has volunteered again, again, again………..

Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me is available at amazon.com book or Kindle, and at independent bookstores. It offers plenty of laughs, inside secrets of TV “journalism” and  much more. It is an account of my illustrious (I choose the adjectives) prize-winning investigative reporting career and the characters I encountered during 30 years of muckraking.

BOBBY JINDAL EXPOSES MEDIA INCOMPETENCE

Because of a conflicting personal project, I’ve stayed away from my derelict gunslinger blog for a few weeks. However, I can’t resist commenting on the failure of the national media to fact check Bobby Jindal’s recent proclamations as they relate to his performance as Louisiana’s Governor.   

In criticizing fellow republicans, Governor Smarty Pants seems to have adopted Forrest Gump’s mantra, ”Stupid is as stupid does.” He exempts himself, although the word, “stupid” is appropriate in describing many of Jindal’s policies in governing his homestate—at least when he bothers to visit the capitol city of Baton Rouge. The fulltime frequent flyer and part-time exorcist seems intent on leading Louisiana back to the bad old days, which in my opinion, qualifies his governing as stupid.

During Jindal’s five years as governor, he has cut funds to education and health care, played games with the state ethics code, avoided transparency in his administration, alienated teachers and state employees, made a concerted effort to reduce the overall quality of life of the poor and elderly, and thrown up roadblocks to scrutiny by the timid local media that has been remiss in holding him accountable for his actions.

Ironically, Jindal relentlously stalks the national media. In the aftermath  of hurricanes, oil spills and other Louisiana catastrophes,  television photographers and network reporters have to hide from the governor. However, in recent days Jindal has been on a roll by getting extensive coverage for his provocative warning that the GOP must “stop being the stupid party.” And after getting considerable attention for similar remarks following the presidential election, Jindal has begun to sound like a wind-up doll by repeating himself over and over again.

His self-promotion reached a high point todayby writing a Washington Post op-ed commentary claiming that Louisiana and other states were being overwhelmed by the anticipated expense of Medicaid following the implementation of Obamacare.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bobby-jindal-to-fix-medicaid-listen-to-governors/2013/01/28/ff5c8e5e-6711-11e2-85f5-a8a9228e55e7_story.html?hpid=z2

Jindal cares so much about this issue that last July he inexplicably turned down federal funds to help Louisiana’s Medicaid program. 

http://theadvocate.com/home/3307312-125/jindal-move-causes-stir

After all, the governor is a man of principle. That is if the definition of principle is hypocrisy. The truth of his rejection is he expected Mitt Romney to win the election and end Obamacare—”on day one of presidency,” Romney regularly proclaimed.  

Jindal’s alleged principles have been a huge setback for Louisiana. In a state facing a major budget crises Jindal went so far as to reject federal stimulus funds in 2009.

http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/02/jindal_rejects_32_million_in_s.html

So far, the so-called mainstream media has given Governor Smarty Pants a free ride—notable exceptions being his embarrassing 2008 response to  President Obama’s state-of-the-union speech, and the frequent comic commentary about Jindal’s attempted exorcism of a sinful woman while he was a student at Brown University. The free ride may be ending though. Most recently, Paul Krugman made note of Jindal’s regressive proposal to abolish income tax in Louisiana and increase sales taxes, which have the greatest impact on low income folks.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/28/opinion/krugman-makers-takers-fakers-.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

Despite the low state of the state of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal continues to live under the delusion that he will one day be a viable candidate for the presidency—presumably President of the United States. But before he throws his hat into the ring, he should speak with a fellow Ivy Leaguer and Rhodes Scholar named William Jefferson Clinton. 

Unlike Jindal, Clinton was a actually a good Governor—one of the best in the history of Arkansas. However, when he sought an unlikely promotion to lead all 50 states, Clinton learned that the national media can be awful nasty. After his public policies more or less passed muster, reporters zeroed in on Clinton’s personal morals and business activies. Hello Gennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky and other alleged Bill Babes. And welcome to Whitewater Estates, the two-bit real estate development which launched a $70-million bogus investigation that amounted to nothing more than a waste of taxpayer money. Indeed, a team of closet pornagraphers led by Christian crusader Kenneth Starr were never even able to answer the lingering question of whether blow job is two words or hyphenated.  

I doubt that Governor Jindal will be vulnerable on moral issues unless they involve his failure to abide by the teachings of Jesus to help the poor. And since Jindal’s career has always been at or near the public trough, he will probably be exempt from questions about business dealings. That means he will have to answer for his failures as Governor.

Given his record in Louisiana, a serious presidential run will afford the national media an opportunity to overcome its incompetence by digging in Jindal’s record as Louisiana’s chief executive.

My memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me is available at amazon.com, soft-cover or Kindle and at independent bookstores. It offers $19.99 worth of laughs and  much more. The book is an account of my illustrious (I choose the adjectives) investigative reporting career and the characters I encountered during 30 years of muckraking. 

BOBBY JINDAL, BOY GENIUS IN HIS OWN MIND

My momma described many people during her lifetime as being “smart, but without an ounce of common sense.” No doubt, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is smart. After all, he is an Ivy League graduate and Rhodes Scholar, which suggests he has an ounce or two of common sense.

Nonetheless, he seems to jump a few steps beyond sensibility. In some respects, Governor “Smarty Pants is like a failed meat cutter who decides to take up brain surgery without bothering to attend medical school. After pushing through legislation that butchered Louisiana’s education and health care systems, as well as carving big holes in numerous other quality of life programs in the state, Jindal now proposes solutions for the nation’s “edge of the cliff” budget woes.

http://www.politico.com/story/2012/12/bobby-jindal-opinion-fiscal-cliff-diving-84647.html?hp=l1

Given Jindal’s record as Louisiana’s absentee Governor, what makes him think he has solutions for the country. Yet, he hangs on to the delusion of becoming President. Most recently, he was sucking up to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson who invested $150-million in losing Republican candidates—foremost being Mitt Romney.

http://theadvocate.com/home/4608068-125/jindal-meets-with-casino-magnate

Adelson embraced Romney to lead the country after his first choice, serial philanderer Newt Gingrich fell by the wayside as a result of his own considerable weight. Now comes Jindal begging for campaign mone. About the only thing  he has in common with Adelson is supporting losers.

Louisiana’s fulltime frequent flyer and part-time exorcist was the first prominent Republican to jump on the off-key presidential bandwagon of neighboring Texas Governor Rick Perry. Like most voters, Jindal soon discovered that Perry’s band was completely tone deaf  and when Perry departed the campaign to take more music lessons, Jindal attached himself to the former Massachusetts Governor Romney—at least until Romney lost.

Not one to defend losers, Jindal verbally dumped on Romney and other GOP candidates.

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/268633-jindal-republicans-need-to-stop-saying-stupid-things

I don’t know when Governor Jindal’s presidential delusions first took hold. Maybe they connected to the hallucinations of deranged radio ranter Rush Limbaugh—the ex-disc jockey and pillhead who is taken seriously by a venting segment of society that finds relief from their anger, fears and frustrations by listening to his hate-filled talk show. Limbaugh casually mentioned Jindal a couple of years ago, apparently causing the Louisiana Governor to become so excited he probably wet his smarty pants.

The Limbaugh plug was enough to send Jindal on a quest to set a world record for accumulating frequent flyer miles by speaking before republican gatherings far and wide—with or without invitations. His meddling in an Iowa state Supreme Court election prompted the Des Moines Register to suggest that he get his skinny ass back to Louisiana.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/charlie-mahtesian/2012/10/jindal-takes-heat-for-campaign-travel-137801.html

Sadly, Jindal’s national political ambitions have caused him to become a stalker of television cameras—except when he is asked for interviews on controversial state policies by Louisiana newspaper and television reporters. Instead of answering questions face-to-face, he puts out news releases. How he gets away with such evasions puzzles me.

In my day many years ago as Baton Rouge’s mini-Mike Wallace, I would have been following Jindal to the ends of the earth for comment. And that was not necessarily of my own choosing. The people I worked for insisted that reporters confront politicians on important public policy issues. The same was true at CNN and other venues where I worked in my thirty year muckraking career.

Times have drastically changed. Lack of accountability now feeds the fantasies of self-important politicians like Bobby Jindal, who believes his alleged genius allows him to leap from meat cutting to brain surgery with no steps in between. 

A majority of voters may not be as smart as Bobby Jindal. But fortunately, they sure as hell have more common sense.

My memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me is available at amazon.com, soft-cover or Kindle and at independent bookstores like the Cottonwood in Baton Rouge. It offers $19.99 worth of laughs and much more. The book is an account of my illustrious (I choose the adjectives) investigative reporting career.

TAKE THAT RUSH, SEAN, GLENN AND FOX “NEWS”

I promised not to gloat after the presidential election. But I can’t resist saying, “I told you so.” Actually, my prediction was conservative—290 Electoral votes compared with 303 presently and a likely total of 332 when Florida finishes its count.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been asked (not too often) about my absence from the derelictgunslinger blog. The short answer is I don’t like declaring rain is wet. Anyone viewing these posts knows my politics. So why aggravate my wing-nut family members and friends. Better to let the outcome speak for itself. And besides, this blog was mainly created to sell  my non-best selling memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger. Please buy the damn book and make me happy—though I can’t imagine being much happier than I was at 11:00 p.m. Tuesday night.

In the aftermath of the election, there is no need now to worry about  offending friends and far-right members of my family, several of whom make Ann Coulter and Michele Bachmann look like bed-wetting liberals. Most of them are already apoplectic about President Obama’s re-election. I only wish they would stop throwing out words like socialism, communism and marxism—terms they are too ignorant to define in terms of Obama’s policies. If these folks looked inward, they would discover another word that describes their attitudes toward the president. Racism.

Much of the winger post-election whining deals with minority influence on the outcome and the disproportionate number of votes they cast for the president. A coalition of African Americans, Hispanics and women (if, in fact, they are considered a minority) undoubtedly played a major role in Barack Obama’s re-election. But how about the minority class to which I belong? Angry white southern males.

Born, bred in the deep south and now living in red-state Louisiana, I’m a double minority—a liberal “yellow dog” democrat. Worse, I no longer shoot unarmed animals, cast for fish or drink whiskey straight out of the bottle—activities that are all part of my past. Nor am I angry at anyone. At least today. But as evidence of my southern heritage, I still stuff myself with gumbo, fried seafood and chicken, and in the privacy of my home, I’ve been known to loudly fart and belch—much to my wife’s chagrin.

Although my confession is slightly embarrassing, it is certainly not as disgraceful as the actions during the election of cycle of many prominent pundits, public figures and so-called journalists. Fox “News,” aka the Republican Propoganda Network, is of course in a class by itself. I don’t begrudge the First Amendment freedoms of its stable of lunatic commentators to express opinions—no matter how bizarre. However, the network reaches the level of disgrace when it tries to pass off political propoganda as news. And that happened frequently during the presidential campaign.

But no need to belabor criticism of Fox “News.” I’ve beat that issue to death ever since this blog was started. Nor will I devote many more words to ex-disc jockeys Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and others of the their ilk like “birther” Donald Trump, who is often given time on Fox to humiliate himself. All the aforementioned characters personify the failure of the nation’s mental health policies of deinstitutionalzation of the marginally nutty, a thin line these guys tend to cross on a daily basis.

In handing out disgrace plaques, Louisiana Governor Bobby (Smarty Pants) Jindal deserves special recognition. Hopeful of a high post in a Republican Administration, the part-time exorcist and fulltime frequent flyer abandoned the state he was supposed to lead to travel for days on end as a Mitt Romney surrogate. Jindal did accomplish one goal. He ensured his legacy as the worst governor in Louisiana’s history. And that is saying a lot.

I guess the one piece of bad news that comes out of the election for Louisianans is the fact that Jindal will be around for another two years to continue devastating the states education and health systems and reducing  the quality of life in taking the state to third world status. 

But despite all that happened during the election campaign, one disappointment stands out for me—the full page newspaper ads by the Billy Graham Crusade that were in effect an endorsement of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. Long ago, Billy Graham stated in an authorized biography—A Prophet with Honor—that his support of President Richard Nixon taught him to avoid becoming publicly involved in partisan politics. The book was written by Rice University sociologist Dr. William Martin, a leading expert on evangelism and a friend of mine from the days when I was doing exposés about spiritually exploitative TV preachers. 

The recent ad was allegedly signed by Billy Graham—a spiritual leader I’ve always admired. And it probably expressed his views on gay marriage and abortion accurately. Still, I have a hunch the world famous 94 year old evangelist was victimized by son, Franklin, a 60 year old hemorrhoid on his daddy’s ass. Franklin has made a career of creating discomfort for the evangelist. So my disgrace plaque goes to Franklin instead of his father.

That said, I’m just glad the campaign is finally over. Though it will take time, I hope all the sore losers will finally shut the hell up. And if we are lucky, let us hope during the president’s second term for the departure of a couple of U.S. Supreme Justices responsible for the Citizen’s United decision that put unlimited secret money into political campaigns.

Don’t you know that all these big Romney donors are experiencing PESD—Post Election Stress Disorder. That makes me happy.

My memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me is available at amazon.com, soft-cover or Kindle and at independent bookstores like the Cottonwood in Baton Rouge. It offers $19.99 worth of laughs and much more. The book is an account of my illustrious (I choose the adjectives) investigative reporting career.

RUSH LIMBAUGH SUPPORTS BAN ON HIS SHOW

Maybe Rush Limbaugh was under the influence of pills. Or perhaps he has fallen farther off his rocker, rendering him delirious. Whatever the case, Rush’s most recent act of stupendous stupidity was his potential career-ending advocacy of freedom of expression in the United States—the First Amendment protection that allows him, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and a whole host of far-right, profiteering propogandists on Fox “News” to exploit the fears, bigotry and anger of people by spreading political disinformation, distortions and outright lies.   

Earlier this week, one of Rush’s rants criticized President Obama for a speech before the United Nations defending our nation’s freedom of expression.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0912/81662.html?hp=r2_b1

According to Limbaugh’s twisted logic, the President’s mention of a controversial film that set-off Muslim riots in several countries was, in effect, a promotion of the amateurish, hate-filled video. AM radio’s most notorious hemorrhoid must have been under the influence in the days prior to Obama’s U.N. speech or he would have noticed that except for folks trapped in the wilderness without cell phones, everybody in America and even in darkest Africa already knew about the film trailer. 

I jest, of course, because Limbaugh was well-aware of his distortion. That’s his style. He believes his listeners are brain-dead. And in many instances, he is probably correct. But then again, consider his biggest fan—Louisiana Governor Bobby (Smarty Pants) Jindal, an Ivy League honors graduate and Rhodes scholar.

Limbaugh made the off-handed remark one day that Governor Smarty Pants was destined to become President. Jindal believed him and became so excited he forgot all about what state he is supposed to govern. Indeed, he was flitting about Iowa this week telling voters to vote against one of their state Supreme Court Justices who cast a ballot in favor of gay marriage. 

Not so coincidentally, Iowa is where presidential campaigns begin. And ever since Rush’s  comment, Jindal has kept busy feeding his delusions of grandeur. He has struck fear in the hearts network TV photographers by stalking every one of them within a ten mile radius.  Instead of governing Louisiana, he has devoted his efforts to accumulating frequent flyer miles while traveling around the nation on self-promotional tours. Left behind is a state facing gigantic size budget problems, serious quality of life crises and an educational voucher system that teaches Louisiana students  the earth is flat—or some sort of science nearly as ridiculous.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/08/crazy-facts-students-will_n_1758003.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

What are the motives of the Rhodes Scholar’s policies? Could his voucher system be part of a right-wing conspiracy to indoctrinate Louisiana kids to grow up and become Limbaugh listeners. After all, Governor Smarty Pants owes the pill-head talk show host bigtime.  Thanks to Rush, Jindal is about to enter into the Guinness Book of Records for collecting the largest number of frequent flyer miles in the shortest period of time on record—enough to fly him to Mars and beyond. Hopefully, he will take Rush with him.  

And that’s my freedom of expression.

My memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me is available at amazon.com, soft-cover or Kindle and at independent bookstores like the Cottonwood in Baton Rouge. It offers $19.99 worth of laughs and much more. The book is an account of my illustrious (I choose the adjectives) investigative reporting career.

PERVERSION OF POLITICS IN DIGITAL AGE

Anyone who has read my liberal rantings on this blog probably realizes I’m the last person to defend GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney—an animated paper mache department store mannequin that tilts in the wake of every breeze from blowhard right-wingers. But despite my belief that Romney is completely out of touch with anyone except fellow millionaires, I think the guy is getting a bad rap from his inarticulate comments about the 47% of voters he demeans as deadbeats.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/secret-video-romney-private-fundraiser

It doesn’t take a political genius to figure out that Romney’s comment to room full of high-rollers is consistent with the general theme of his campaign. In this case, dissing nearly half of the nation’s electorate is more direct than in his prepared remarks on the campaign trail.

More to the point, grainy undercover video gives his remarks a sinister nature. The same is true about th gaffes of other politicins, including President Obama’s 1998 remarks about redistribution of wealth and his 2008 “guns and religion” comment at a fundraiser.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZWaxjiQyFk

My point is that in unguarded moments candidates say strange things when speaking extemporaneously. Secretly recorded video—especially video lacking context—distorts the impact of their statements.

Too many years ago to count lurked around Miami, Florida secretly filming mafia characters in the wild. I caught them doing such things as talking to friends in residential driveways, going to the post office, or in the case of so-called organized crime “financial wizard”  Meyer Lansky, having a high cholesterol breakfast of bacon and eggs after avoiding grand jury subpoenas because of an alleged heart condition. But no matter how mundane the activities of these guys, the video looked sinister—so sinister in fact that the mafia series for Miami’s NBC affiliate  received the second of my four Peabody awards (a little bragging never hurts, though the mafia prize falls into the category of “What the hell was the Peabody panel thinking?”).

Anyway, I didn’t send the award back. And in retrospect I learned a lesson about the use and abuse of undercover video which is useful, but only in rare situations. I’m not big on protecting my own privacy, as indicated in Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger, a memoir that discloses all my dirty secrets. And there are plenty.

However, I recognize that not everyone feels the way I do. Especially Mitt Romney, who refuses to release past income tax returns or disclose anything about specific plans he has to change government if elected. Actually, the former Massachusetts Governor is a victim of a dread disease and needs protection. During the Republican Primary he was exposed to a foot-in-mouth virus—a malady I didn’t know existed or could be spread by GOP presidential candidates. Romney’s exposure to the epidemic became apparent after he cinched the nomination and helped make fact-checking a cottage industry.

But whether infected by foot-in-mouth or not, no candidate can escape the scrutiny of hidden cameras in the digital age. Everybody has phone cameras and like me peeking from the back of a “spy van” in the 1970’s to catch racketeers doing something sinister, thousands of folks are aiming cameras at candidates to catch them saying stupid things. In Romney’s case, the amateur spies are quite successful.

Unfortunately, the pleasure I feel from his stumbles makes me feel guilty.

My memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me is available at amazon.com, soft-cover or Kindle and at independent bookstores like the Cottonwood in Baton Rouge. It offers $19.99 worth of laughs and much more. The book is an account of my illustrious (I choose the adjectives) investigative reporting career.

But give the man a break. As Dana Milbank states in the Washington Post, the “lamestream” media can ill afford to lose Romney as a whipping boy. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-media-should-go-easy-on-mitt-romney–for-their-own-sake/2012/09/18/a274f24c-01c9-11e2-b257-e1c2b3548a4a_story.html?hpid=z2