Archive for the ‘ Sean Hannity ’ Category


Listening to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders shout his opinions like a drunk in a barroom during this week’s Democratic presidential debate on CNN brought back memories of strolling through Chicago’s Grant Park during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. I was then a radio newsman and this was the first major national story I had ever covered. And what an experience it turned out to be. Thousands of protesters had traveled from all parts to the country to demonstrate against the Vietnam War and other perceived government shortcomings.

I was dispatched to Chicago by Baton Rouge radio station WJBO. Most folks under forty years old have no clue that radio was once a reliable source of news and public affairs. This was before the medium was taken over by right-wing nuts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and other failed disc jockeys who discovered outlets for their uninformed opinions and distortion of facts.

Anyway, in 1968 there was much speculation in Baton Rouge that Louisiana’s then Governor, John McKeithen, might be selected as the running mate of Hubert Humphrey, a near cinch to become the Democrat’s Presidential nominee succeeding Lyndon Johnson under whom he served as Vice President. McKeithen’s hope was not a delusion of the magnitude of Bobby Jindal’s attempt to be taken seriously as a national candidate.

Indeed, Humphrey and McKeithen were longtime friends and post-graduate classmates at LSU. Humphrey had even dropped hints about selecting his buddy to join the ticket. But it was all a ruse designed to unite the support of Louisiana’s convention delegation, which was in discord over several issues — civil rights in particular. As it turned out, McKeithen and the Louisiana media, were fooled by the ploy.

Unlike Governor Smarty Pants Jindal, there is no evidence Bernie Sanders suffers from hallucinations of grandeur. Nor is he the subject of trickery like John McKeithen. He is a serious candidate hollering about important issues of disparities between rich and poor, and the lack of opportunities for the middle class.  But the nation doesn’t elect 74 year old curmudgeons, though Sanders has remarkable support among a lot of young voters. No matter, early support and getting the nomination are far apart. Nonetheless, he reminds of the voices I heard in Grant Park nearly a half century ago.

It was three years before I corked the bottle, but even in my alcoholic haze I remember listening to speakers in Grant Park. After a violent confrontation with police during a march down Michigan Avenue before the opening of the convention protesters ended up in the park surrounded by National Guard troops. During my walks through the park I heard the shouting rhetoric of speakers exposing different causes. Most of the young people in Grant Park were described as “hippies,” though there was a large representation of older demonstrators and civil rights activists.

As far as I know, Bernie Sanders was not present. He and his first wife were tending to 85 acres of land in Vermont. Sanders says he was never a “hippie.” But if his voice was as strong then as it is now, he would have done a helluva job espousing that issues haven’t changed much since 1968—just slightly improved in some instances.

That is disappointing. Following the convention, I recall coming away with considerable optimism about the future. I told friends that in a few years when the so-called hippie generation reached maturity they would transform society to meet many of their ideals. It didn’t happen. Now, most of the hippies are old curmudgeons like Bernie. Worse, too many of them made a few bucks and became Republicans.

So I can thank Bernie for the memories of a more hopeful time. Wish it had turned out differently.


One of my closest friends hates President Obama. The guy almost drools with anger when Obama’s name is mentioned so I avoid discussing politics with him. He is a very smart guy, a former top executive with a major company who holds a post graduate degree from a prestigious university. I have long puzzled why somebody as intelligent as my friend is unable to control his hatred. I have a partial answer. I surmise that he constantly watches Fox “News” since it is on the TV when I go to his home.

By all rights, that should be my channel of choice. I’m a redneck who grew up in the housing projects of Mobile, Alabama — a near-do-well who barely got out of high school, failed every class during one semester at the University of Alabama, got married when I was seventeen, was father of four children before I turned twenty-two, drank myself onto skid row in New Orleans at the age of thirty-five and built a record that seemingly doomed me to a life of trailer trash squalor. By all rights, I should be marching with the Tea Party, or worse yet, the Ku Klux Klan. Instead, I became an ardent liberal.

So what makes me think I’m so smart now? For one thing, I got sober 44 years ago and learned some principles that taught me how to live life on life’s terms and have consideration for other folks. Secondly, I discovered a talent that paved the road to an extraordinarily career as a prize-winning television investigative reporter. During my thirty years of muckraking that began in 1972, I received every important broadcast journalism award — most of them multiple times.

Sadly, before I retired after ten years as CNN’s Senior Investigative Correspondent in a fifty-member Special Assignment Unit, I witnessed first-hand the deterioration of responsible TV journalism. At several levels, network and local news. The worst development I witnessed was the “gotcha” mentality among reporters and a breakdown of the lines between news , commentary and punditry. The downward slide began before there was a Fox “News,” during an when Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and other former disc jockeys started gaining a foothold as public affairs experts. Incredibly, listeners believed the outrageous and distorted political views of these characters.

Which brings me to the “Clinton Rules,” a form of reporting that political terrorists are given more credibility by journalists than irrefutable evidence contradicting their partisan attacks. Coming up with the a story becomes more important than coming up with the truth. Skepticism, the best quality of good reporters, degenerates into toxic cynicism. And myths transcend logic.

The “Clinton Rules” exempts journalists from asking relevant questions and providing context that would have exposed a so-called political scandals like the Whitewater hoax in its early stages. The bogus investigation gained its momentum from Oval Office blow-jobs and  increased the influence of the extreme right-wing. The lack of journalistic integrity in failing to dig for truth ultimately led to the election of George W. Bush ― widely viewed among the worst Presidents in American history.

The country is gradually recovering from the damage done during Bush’s eight years of bumbling. But the news media has not recovered its legitimacy. The journalism principle of searching for truth has largely been abandoned, as well as the media’s obligation to report news the public needs to know—not what entertains readers, viewers and listeners.

Therefore, it is not surprising that CNN is doing quiz shows featuring anchors instead of covering important news. Nor am I surprised that NBC anchor Brian Williams was caught exaggerating his role in reporting from the battlefields of Iraq. Exaggeration and sensationalism is now the rule of mainstream news. And it is no shock that Bill O’Reilly, a blowhard who has made millions by being an asshole, lied about his role as a “war correspondent.” After all he works for Fox “News,” a Republican propaganda network that places a premium on lying and distortions. And unfortunately Fox is where my good friend, the Obama hater, gets his news.

That’s sad for him, along with millions of people who would rather be stupid than be informed.

For more insight on the death of television news, read my memoir, Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger: An Odyssey of Exposing TV Preachers, Corrupt Politicians, Right-Wing Lunatics…..and Me. Available on Amazon and at Independent bookstores.