Archive for the ‘ Rush Limbaugh ’ Category

JESUS: “TEA PARTY PISSES ME OFF” (CAMP:CHAPTER WHATEVER, VERSE 1)

I know. Judge not lest you be judged (Matthew 7:1-3). Despite what the Bible says, I’m going to take a gamble and cast a few stones (John 8:7) at the alleged Christians who pledge their allegiance to the Tea Party and other right-wing extremist groups.

I have no idea what Bible these folks read. But it sure as hell ain’t the one I’m familiar with. And “Yes,” I’ve read the Good Book—three times from Genesis through Revelations, not that I’m especially knowledgeable. In fact I wish my Presbyterian preacher would list the pew bible page number in the bulletin of the Scriptures he is using as a basis for each Sunday sermon. Half the time, I need to ask my wife, “Where is that Chapter in the Bible?” She then makes me envious by reciting every book in order.

The so-called Values Voter Conference this week has  motivated me to rant about the hypocrisy of extreme conservative politicians and many of their cheerleaders. The conference is sponsored by the Family Research Council, a “Christian think tank” headed by Tony Perkins. I know Tony and we have been on friendly terms for years. A mutual friend has assured me that Tony is sincere in his Christian faith. That doesn’t mean he is right—an exception being his politics. And like most politically ambitious people, Tony is an opportunist. But aren’t we all? To what extent is the real question.

Anyway, back to the Tea Party, a fringe group composed mainly of a lot of malcontents, some of whom once belonged to Jerry Falwell’s Christian Coalition. Remember Jerry? He keeled over of a heart attack six years ago. But he left behind a legacy of bearing false witness that has been passed down to the Tea Party and other far-right conservative groups that will say anything to advance their selfish agendas.

I may be wrong, but is my understanding that when Jerry arrived at the Pearly Gates, Jesus summoned his disciples and instructed them to kick the shit out of the preacher for slandering His name. Since I don’t believe in Hell, except for the bed we make here on earth, I guess Falwell was banished to some faraway corner of Heaven and allowed to indulge in all the fat food that killed him in the first place.

Although Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is not a preacher, he has in the tradition of Falwell taken up the leadership of the Tea Party and  ”Christians” who have never bothered to read the New Testament and absorb a modicum of Jesus’ message about helping the poor, loving neighbors and doing unto others rather sticking it to them. For all I know, Cruz could be the antichrist. After all, he came from the strange and mysterious country of Canada, a place that has affordable health care. I guess he learn to hate it while growing up in Texas.

On the other hand, Cruz could be a secret operative of the Democrats, assigned the task of destroying the Republican party. That almost happened in 1995 when serial adulterer and then House Speaker Newt Gingrich had a hissy fit and inadvertently facilitated the eventual takeover of the House by Democrats. That was the same year that pill-popping failed disc jockey Rush Limbaugh was celebrated as a GOP guru. He has since been joined by other failed disc jockey-gurus like self-described rodeo clown Glenn Beck and child-like pundit Sean Hannity.

In the wake of the 1995 shutdown, October 7, 1996 to be precise, the Republican Propaganda Network, aka Fox “News,” made its debut. And seventeen years later, Fox has become the top-rated cable news network by giving the nations malcontents the kind of partisan spin they want—even if it’s inaccurate and distorted. But what the heck? These people are just out to make a buck. And as long as they don’t pull a gun on viewers, they are and should be protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.  Luke 23:34.

However in the case of Ted Cruz and other leaders on the fringe, ignorance is not the case. These characters exploit gullible people for the sole purpose of political gain. And in my opinion, their sins are unforgivable. At least by me.

That concludes John Camp’s Bible lesson for this week.

Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: A Saga of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…and Me. My memoir 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, 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.

FORREST GUMP NAMED TOP GOP ADVISOR

After maintaining a low profile for nearly two decades while raising a son as a single parent in a small Alabama town, Forrest Gump has been hired by the Republican Party to help save it from irrelevancy. Relying on his momma’s advice, Mr. Gump is championing a GOP mantra, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

A key factor in Mr. Gump’s decision was a statement by alleged Louisiana Governor Bobby (Smarty Pants) Jindal—the part-time exorcist and full-time frequent flyer who urged Republicans to abandon the title of “Stupid Party.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/bobby-jindal-gop_n_2121511.html 

Mr. Gump’s initial advice is to have Jindal perform a mass exorcism aimed at disabusing tea partiers and other malcontents in thirty states of the notion of seceding from the union. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/petition-to-secede-states_n_2120410.html?utm_hp_ref=politics 

Gump believes the idea of secession far exceeds the threshold of “stupid does” since several of states involved receive considerably more money from the government than the taxes they send to Washington.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-the-confederacy-of-takers/2012/11/13/d8adc7ee-2dd4-11e2-beb2-4b4cf5087636_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

Instead of secession, Mr. Gump suggests the dissidents unite and form their own nation under the leadership of billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch. They seem to have huge sums of money to waste on political campaigns. Why not own a country and declare themselves co-Kings? A third billionaire Koch brother, William, is already building his own town in Colorado and owns enough property to locate a nation.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/billionaire-bill-koch-builds-private-old-west-town-184240977.html

Mr. Gump says the possibilities of a new country are unlimited—a nation with its own Fox “News” propaganda network and and radio stations for people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and other talk show sages of the far-right to proselytize their messages of distortion and lies. A high fence around the Koch nation will keep liberals, Hispanics and other minorities out. More importantly, the fence will keep its nutty population in.

Mr. Gump believes residents can support themselves by digging for coal, refining Koch oil and polluting the air for fun and profit.  I think he  is on to something. However, I wonder if he is truly committed to the plan.

He tells neighbors, “Alabama is a shit hole, but I ain’t leaving. I’m rich enough from Bubba Gump Shrimp Company to hire security people to protect me from the “stupid-does” secessionists.”

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.

SARAH PALIN’S AGD: ATTENTION GETTING DEFICIT

A quickie (blog post you dirty old men) before I head to Florida to inspect the damage inflicted on the Republican Party by old white dudes attending the GOP convention in Tampa. At least Clint Eastwood wasn’t carrying a drool cup. Like many other folks—including a lot of non-partisan opinionators—I found his performance beyond weird.

Having reported on two national political conventions—the 1968 Democrats in Chicago and the 1972 Republicans in Miami Beach—I echo the comments of most witnesses to Dirty Harry’s strange meanderings. “What the hell was that about.” Maybe he really believed President Obama was sitting in the empty chair on the platform.

 But all sorts of odd behavior is occuring in this campaign like Democratic Senator Harry Reid’s psychic declaration that Mitt Romney paid no taxes for ten years, and the barrage of mainly GOP political ads that have overwhelmed the fact-checking industry. Shades of Sarah Palin, who was last seen outside the Fox “News” studios screaming, “Let me in, let me in.”

Sadly for wits and half-wits like me, the former GOP Vice Presidential nominee and half-term Alaskan Governor has been declared irrelevant. Shunted aside, she feeds her Attention Getting Deficit by criticizing the 2012 Republican ticket.   

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/31/sarah-palin-romney-ryan-tarp_n_1845315.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

I guess a “yellow dog” liberal Democrat such as me should be celebrating the GOP’s self-destruction. But the shame of politics nowadays is there is nothing worth celebrating. The divisiveness—especially the crap spewed by Rush, Sean and their ilk—has reduced the nation’s politics to the level of some third world country.

Anyway, its time for me to take a break and await the Democratic National Convention next week. I probably should not leak information my intrepid investigative reporting has uncovered. But I have learned the name of the Democrat’s mystery speaker. It will be Peewee Herman.

Off to Florida.

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.

POLITICIANS BELIEVE VOTERS AND MEDIA ARE STUPID: AND SOME ARE

Metaphor definition: A figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison, as in “Sea of troubles” or “All the world is a stage.”

Vice President Joe Biden needed a better metaphor than his comment to a predominately black audience that Mitt Romney’s Wall Street policies would  put folks back in chains. 

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/14/biden-romneys-wall-street-will-put-yall-back-in-chains/ 

The Biden remark followed his claim and the belief of fellow Democrats that the GOP would “unchain” Wall Street, meaning the repeal of tighter regulations on banking and other financial transactions by high rollers. But forget the context. In today’s political environment, every word and every phrase is parsed by reporters. Minor gaffes become big news. Both parties are victimized by the superficiality of contemporary political journalism.

Worse, many of the nation’s voters—especially cable news viewers and talk radio listeners—have been dumbed-down to the point that they can’t differentiate between real issues and bullshit. Forgive my language, but I’m unable think of a better word describing coverage of the 2012 presidential campaign. And for that matter, most political campaigns.

Moronic reporting is non-partisan, though Republicans seem to bare the brunt of gaffes escalating to the level of being scandalous. Having said that, I admit to rarely watching Fox “News,” aka the Republican Propaganda Network, or listening for extended periods of time to a bunch of ex-disc jockeys with names like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, et al. If Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are any indication, my guess is that Democrats are unloved in those venues,

No doubt, the right-wing media branch has conditioned a lot of people to believe the damndest politicians on God’s green earth. How else can you explain the alleged popularity of Sarah Palin, Chistine O’Donnell and, in particular, a sizeable number of members of Congress who seem to be in some bizarre  competition to win the title of the nuttiest person to ever hold a seat in those hallowed halls. I can’t decide whether to vote for latter day commie hunter Alan West or conspiracy lunatic Michele Bachmann and her Tea Party allies in the House of Representatives. Each has a shot at a Gold Medal for the seriously demented.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-modern-day-mccarthyism/2012/08/08/0c6090fc-e1a5-11e1-98e7-89d659f9c106_story.html?hpid=z3

Before conceding medals to Bachman or West, I have to concede there are other serious contenders like Texas Republican Louie Gohmert. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/louie-gohmert-aurora-shootings_n_1689099.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

But Gohmert may be disqualified because most politicians from his home state are slightly off kilter. Who can forget Texas Governor Rick Perry? What a tease Perry has become. He keeps hinting that Texas will secede from the union but never follows through on the threat. Please, Governor, do it.

Anyway, I’m home from vacation. And the Governor of my fair state has  awakened from his fantasy dream of becoming Mitt Romney’s running mate.  Delusional creationist and facilitator of exorcisms, Bobby (Smarty Pants) Jindal, now awaits the telephone call that will get him the hell out of Louisiana before citizens realize the mess he has created with his so-called school voucher program.

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/07/photos-evangelical-curricula-louisiana-tax-dollars 

The reality of what Jindal has done to Louisiana will hurt for decades to come. But maybe there is a method to his madness—the education of a generation of students more ignorant than their forebearers.

Sadly, much of the media and a lot of voters will be too stupid to realize the damage that Jindal and his fellow travelers has caused.

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.

BRIAN ROSS SHOULD KNOW BETTER

I’ve often told people I’m a muckraking idiot savant. By serendipitous circumstances, I literally staggered into investigative reporting. As I wrote in my non-best selling memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger, my entry into broadcast journalism was a result of benevolent accident.

By any measure, I seemed destined to spend my life in redneck honky-tonks, drunkenly bitching about the liberal news media, corrupt politicians and delivering Rush Limbaugh inspired commentary about the state of the nation. That’s a best case scenario. Dead is the worst.

Miraculously, sobriety intervened. I vacated my barstool, joined the liberal news media, won a bunch of prestigious journalism prizes, and eventually became Senior Investigative Correspondent for CNN.

Until I was 27 years old, though, I never once considered being a journalist—broadcast or otherwise. I wanted to be a rock and roll disc jockey. My disc jockey ambitions were unfulfilled. I never got to spin one rock and roll record. A few weeks into my first radio job at a 250-watt station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California, United Press International repossessed the station’s newswire. So to keep the lights lighting and the transmitter transmitting, somebody needed to fill two sponsored newscasts. I knew nothing about reporting. Nonetheless, I was sent forth in the small town of Sonora to gather all the news fit to broadcast. The station’s signal didn’t reach much farther than two tin cans tethered by string.

However, KVML called itself The Voice of the Mother Lode. And as the only fulltime “Voice of the Mother Lode,” I was given the task of collecting ten minutes of local news each day. I reported petty crimes, traffic accidents and funeral notices.

My only “journalism” skills until then consisted of typing and bullshit. The latter talent ultimately formed the foundation of my muckraking career―a business that is the antithesis of playing records and entertaining listeners with witty patter. 

Before my CNN tenure, I bounced around the country digging dirt in Baton Rouge, Miami, Boston and other cities. It was in Miami that Brian Ross and I became friends. In fact we each had a share of my second Peabody award. His story flirted with the edges of entrapment. One of our producers told cops she had found a billfold filled with cash. A few days later Brian showed up at the police station to determine if the wallets were returned. Some were not.

In retrospect, my “Peabody award-winning” reports pretty much amounted to shortcut journalism. Law enforcement sources leaked a document giving a short synopsis of the crimes and home addresses of mob figures who had fled New Jersey to avoid Crime Commission subpoenas—mostly guys with names that ended in vowels. Like Marlin Perkins tracking wild animals in Africa, I lurked behind bushes and hid in a spy van in order to add pictures to the leaked intelligence report.

Anyway, Brian and I went on to bigger and better things—his being much bigger and a lot better in terms of salaries. In addition to changing employers, our investigative reporting techniques also changed. At least mind did. Brian does good work. But like many journalism gunslingers, he is sometimes too fast on the draw.

His most recent gaffe was an ABC News report linking the Aurora, Colorado mass murderer to the Tea Party, an allegation based on finding a Tea Party member with the same name—James Holmes. Although the network quickly apologized, it was an unforgivable error in judgment. And Brian has been ravaged in the media, as well as by viewers on both the right and left. Comedian Jon Stewart even took shots at my friend.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/24/jon-stewart-rips-brian-ross-daily-show-video_n_1697796.html

There is no excuse for Brian’s dumbness. But there are mitigating circumstances. He is 64 years old, meaning that his shelf life for network television is nearing its expiration date. If past reports are accurate, Brian earns a high seven figure salary and ABC wants a return for its investment. Hence, he is under pressure to deliver multiple investigative stories, some of which are not ready for prime time.

In my opinion, he still relies on shortcuts—the most ancient being ambush interviews that embarrass targets of investigations without providing any useful information. ABC has a great appreciation for camera-in-the-face confrontations. So did I—40 years ago in Miami.

But as I wrote in my memoir, I had an epiphany while doing a series of reports on prominent Florida lawyer Harvey St. Jean. He was  gunned down in a Miami Beach parking lot. The attorney had taken money from a convicted drug smuggler to fix a case after promising to bribe a federal judge and facilitate the man’s release—a scheme that in reality was a rip-off. 

Showing extraordinary persistence for a man suspected of ordering the murder the lawyer, the Colombian smuggler filed a handwritten claim in Probate Court seeking restitution from the estate. The petition alluded to a bribery scheme and identified St. Jean as a conduit for a payment to an unnamed “third party,” presumably the judge. The widow took the claim seriously and agreed to meet the suspect at the Dade County jail where he was awaiting transfer to a federal penitentiary on drug charges.

In a trade-off of information, I told a homicide cop about the crudely written probate claim. In turn, he tipped me to the date and time of the jail house meeting. When Mrs. St. Jean arrived in the parking lot accompanied by her attorney, the cameraman and I leaped from a van. “Why are you meeting the man who arranged your husband’s murder?” I yelled. 

The lawyer tried to shield her. But I continued my wretched questioning. “Are you planning to return the money your husband stole?” I was embarrassed watching the film.

It would soften my approach to ambushing unsuspecting targets. Indeed, I already had qualms about the tactic. A few weeks before when I stormed the office of a St. Jean associate, lights ablaze and shouting questions as he cowered behind his desk. Viewing the film, I wondered about my reaction under similar circumstances.

This is not to suggest that I became a diffident, goody-two-shoes reporter. But private citizens have a right to refuse interviews. Public officials are different. I had no misgivings about waylaying stonewalling politicians and bureaucrats with a camera. Nor did I exempt miscreant private citizens at the vortex of important public policy issues. Since I defined what public issues were important, it was easy to abide by the new code.

I wish Brian had been more circumspect over the years in relying on ambush interviews. But in an environment such as ABC, maybe he didn’t have a choice. With a couple of million dollars a year at stake, I guess he does what he has to do. That’s the way of contemporary journalism.

The old adage of no story before its time is for old codgers like me to whine about.

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.