By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
We often hear, “why don’t you report on all the good things lawmakers are doing in the State?”
We do try, but with incompetence raging like a rampant black plague of stupidity, and illegal and legal corruption stories breaking every other day like a stampeding herd of rabid goats, there is little time to focus on good works.
The Governor’s ineptitude and lack of moral grounding will most likely result in his criminal indictment. Moreover, his failure as a leader has led to massive wasteful spending on technology that doesn’t work and will take millions more to fix.
“The House of Bentley” is out of control, and the foggy-stench emanating from the Capitol threatens to suffocate any well-meaning effort coming from across Union Street.
A “Bonfire of the Vanities” is needed to cleanse these sins of omission and commission, but in Alabama, the vanities of excess leaves us struggling even to rent a roll-off dumpster.
In many respects, political reporting is a bonfire upon which the excesses of the political class are scorched on timbers of facts. The founders of our Republic understood the necessity of checks on government by an outside interest. This is why freedom of the press is enshrined in our constitution.
Politicos of every stripe loathe journalists who dare expose their corruption or incompetence. This is not because of some media bias, but because politicians often live in a land of make-believe where they are special and above petty criticism of working reporters.
On a national level, it would be difficult to say which presidential candidate hates the media worse: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. At a recent Trump rally, a supporter wore a t-shirt that called for lynching journalists. “Rope. Tree. Journalist,” the shirt read. “Some assembly required.” The shirts message went viral in mere minutes, as you might expect.
Some might find the shirt’s message offensive, especially given our State’s history of “Strange Fruit” as sung about by Billie Holiday and others. Personally, I find it both troubling and grimly humorous.
Presidents and even local politicos love to blame the press for their failings, and so this Trump supporter like many others are accusing the media of bias against their guy. The Clinton campaign says the same.
So….what else is new?
The grim irony is that the rights and liberties of the young man in the t-shirt freely enjoys would have been stripped from him long ago if it were not for fearless journalists.
Journalists risk their lives and careers every day. Anger a top politico: you’re out of a job. Make an advertiser squeamish: adios. Take a dangerous assignment or cross a bad guy and it can be all over but digging the grave.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) in 2015, 50 Journalist were murdered, 17 were killed in crossfire / combat, five died on dangerous assignments for a total 72 with a motive for death confirmed. Since 1992 CPJ found 1216 journalists have been killed in the line of duty, so a lynching t-shirt is trivial in the border picture.
In our State, former Speaker and current convicted felon Mike Hubbard vilified this media outlet, even accusing me of being the Devil. He also once asked a lawmaker why I was trying to crucify him.
In a recent conversation, I learned that a lawmaker said, people should steer clear of The Alabama Political Reporter because we would write something “bad about them.”
We only write bad things when people do bad things. Informing the public of a politician’s idiocy or wrongdoing is our job. When there is an abundance of political malfeasance and simple-minded foolishness afoot in State government, there is no reason to write about much else.
There may come a time when we can report on good policy and sound procedure, but for now the criminal and brainless activities are keeping us occupied.
As I have told every politico in our State, who will listen, we are here to help, not harm. To do good, not evil. I am not the Devil, but I will give hell to any man or woman who tries to harm our State.
While the dumpster fire rages, we can do no less.
Who brought the marshmallows?