Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘TV News’ Category

It’s been a long time since an election in Louisiana has featured the level of accusations and misleading ads.

Like four years.

It was in 2015 when then State Rep. John Bel Edwards rolled out his “Prostitutes over Patriots” ad to taint U.S. Sen. David Vitter in the latter’s attempt to succeed the controversial Bobby Jindal to the state’s governor’s mansion next to Capitol Lake.

That ad was a reminder of Vitter’s embarrassing scandal over his skipping a vote to honor 28 soldiers killed in action in favor of taking a call from a PROSTITUTES.

That ad eclipsed Vitter’s attempt to smear Edwards for his visit to a black nightclub that featured semi-nude dancers.

In an ugly sidebar, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, a Republican who succeeded the colorful—and controversial—Harry Lee, got involved in the race, first by endorsing Edwards and then by collaring an apparent campaign mole attempting to record a session of Edwards supporters at a coffee claque.

Ugly indeed. Worthy of Earl Long.

Fast forward to 2019 and little has changed.

Both candidates, incumbent Gov. Edwards, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Eddie Rispone have unloaded a spate of attack ads against each other that have Louisiana voters suffering severe cases of campaign fatigue. If possible, the barrage is worse even than the avalanche of lawyer ads that seem to obscure local newscasts.

Edwards convinced black leaders in New Orleans to remove an ad comparing Rispone to David Duke, prompting Rispone to accuse Edwards of playing the race card, accusing Edwards’ family of racism because his ancestors were slave owners.

Ugly.

Even Donald Trump has inserted himself into the governor’s race, appearing at rallies over the state and charging that Edwards is pro-abortion and anti-2nd Amendment.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Edwards broke with his own party to support and sign into law one of the harshest anti-abortion laws in the nation—the constitutionality of which will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. And Edwards, himself a hunter, is a strong advocate of the 2nd Amendment.

Rispone has fashioned himself as a “jobs creator,” but Edwards ads point out that he has a record of outsourcing jobs to foreign workers who subsequently sued him over benefits. And as for the jobs Rispone says he “created,” Edwards has noted that Rispone’s company has received millions of dollars in tax exemptions for businesses that created precious few jobs.

Rispone has an ad attacking Edwards as being “too liberal for Louisiana” that inserts Edwards responding to the hypothetical “how liberal is John Bel Edwards,” saying “That’s a stupid question.”

Problem is, the Edwards comment is taken out of context. The remark was in response to Rispone’s debate question about New Orleans being a sanctuary city—which, in fact, was an uninformed question, much like Rispone’s claim that the State Constitution contained 400 pages just on the state tax code.

Ugly.

The Edwards campaign features an ad that shows Rispone introducing then-Gov. Bobby Jindal at some function (we don’t know what, but it does appear authentic). His introduction is interspersed with negative news headlines about major budget cuts and budgetary shortfalls that occurred during Jindal’s eight years. Rispone can be heard congratulating Jindal on “a great job.”

The end concludes with a warning that we can’t go back to the Jindal years.

Recently, Secretary of State KYLE ARDOIN apparently violated a state prohibition against him (or any secretary of state) from participating in any partisan election other than his own—because as secretary of state, he is in charge of impartially overseeing all elections in the state—when he appeared in a Trump rally in Monroe and endorsed Rispone.

Ugly.

A Rispone ad inaccurately accused one of Edwards’ supporters, a West Point roommate, of landing a STATE CONTRACT worth up to $65 million. The facts revealed that while Murray Starkel did bid on the coastal restoration contract, neither his firm nor any of the other three bidders received the contract. The ad was subsequently pulled.

A Rispone ad attacking Edwards’ MILITARY RECORD was particularly ugly, especially in light of the fact that Rispone’s primary benefactor, Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigsby, DROPPED OUT of West Point.

And while Rispone appears satisfied to attack Edwards vis TV ads, he seems reluctant to face Edwards face to face, one on one, other than the formal debates to which he committed earlier. But he was a NO SHOW at a Baton Rouge Area Chamber forum as well as a Baton Rouge Press Club debate, prompting one observer to speculate that he didn’t get Grigsby’s permission to attend.

And while Rispone offers no hard solutions to any of the state’s problems other than to say he is a “jobs creator,” Edwards can—and does—boast that he took over a state wallowing in eight consecutive years of budgetary deficits of the Jindal administration to produce a $300 million budget surplus.

Rispone’s most effective ad features his daughter Dena extolling his family values, his faith and the fact that he is not only a wonderful father, but a “good man.” It’s easily the least offensive ad that either candidate has rolled out, even more effective than the image of Edwards driving down the road in his pickup truck with his arm draped around his wife’s shoulder. That ad may have been genuine, but I couldn’t help but feel it appeared contrived, posed. Rispone’s daughter, by contrast, was about as sincere as any ad in the entire festering campaign and, looking directly into the camera, she comes across as a truly loving daughter. Nothing about it seems rehearsed.

Rispone, however, all but negates that ad with another in which he opens by saying Louisiana is the best state in the nation but immediately clicks off a multitude of poor rankings that causes one to question his claim of our being the “best” state.

There can be no denying there are lingering problems that are so entrenched from decades of back room politics that put lawmakers’ personal gain of the state’s best interests.

In 2018, Louisiana had an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent, fourth-highest in the nation, and a poverty rate of 18.6 percent, the nation’s third-highest.

There are those who are not as enamored as Rispone’s daughter. And the skeptics include at least two elected Republicans.

One, a state senator, cautioned, “If you think Jindal was bad, just wait until you see what happens if Rispone is elected.”

Another, a parish official, said Rispone would bring back former commissioners of administration Kristi Nichols and Angelle Davis from “political oblivion” to work in his administration.

Those two, and others Republicans with similar opinions, will be targeted by the State Republican Party as RINOs (Republicans in Name Only).

Regardless, the citizens of Louisiana will breathe a sigh of relief when this circus is over.

Political campaigns in Louisiana can wear even the most resilient observer down to his or her last nerve.

Ugly.

Read Full Post »

For those who prefer the fast-paced action of James Patterson, John Grisham or James Lee Burke, In Sullivan’s Shadow isn’t for you.

But if you are a political junkie with an eye for a scholarly work about a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that was key to the simultaneous support of the First Amendment and the American civil rights movement, then you will definitely fine In Sullivan’s Shadow riveting reading.

Author Aimee Edmondson, a native of East Carroll Parish, never really appreciated the stark reality of having grown up sheltered from exposure to blacks, attending as she did, an all-white private school, until she bumped into an African-American student from her home town her freshman year at LSU. Only then did she realize that even in a small town like Lake Providence, they had grown up worlds apart. When she innocently observed that she didn’t attend public school back home, he simply shook his head and said, “No s**t.”

Edmondson, who teaches journalism at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, has crawled back through the legal archives of civil rights litigation to give us a long-awaited examination of SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) lawsuits used as weapons against national publications like Time, The New York Times, Look, Life, The Saturday Evening Post, and even The Ladies’ Home Journal and bold local editors who saw resistance to the civil rights movement for what it was: a desperate attempt to keep blacks “in their place” while preserving the comfortable—and separate—lifestyles of whites.

While local television stations in the South would display “Technical Difficulties” on viewers’ screens whenever their networks would air footage of blacks being beaten in Southern bus stations, the national publications—and to a lesser extent, courageous small town editors like Hodding Carter, Buford Boone and Hazel Brannon Smith—were providing graphic coverage that left people like Lester Sullivan, Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Connor, Lawrence A. Rainey, and retired Army Gen. Edwin Walker in a litigious mood.

Sullivan was Commissioner of the Police and Fire Department of Montgomery, Alabama, Connor was Birmingham Police Commissioner, and Rainey was Sheriff of Neshoba County, Mississippi.

In a series of separate SLAPP filings, they launched a full-scale attack on the national publications, CBS News, CBS reporter Howard K. Smith, himself a native of Ferriday, Louisiana, and local newspapers that dared to take a stand against arrests, beatings, arson, and even murders. And of course, black newspapers and civil rights leaders were not exempt from the costly litigation.

Edmondson calls up some familiar names when she describes how the struggle for equality made its way to Baton Rouge. Names like Police Chief Wingate White, U.S. District Court Judge E. Gordon West, 19th Judicial District Court Judge Fred LeBlanc, and District Attorney Sargent Pitcher, Jr., Mayor John Christian, and Rev. Arthur L Jelks surface in her recounting of the volatile struggle.

She even manages to provide us with a brief account of the ongoing battles between blacks and Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal.

But more than just a rehashing of police dogs, fire hoses and clubs, Edmondson’s book focuses more on the legal struggles that came out of the multitude of SLAPP actions brought by Sullivan, Connor, Rainey, and Walker.

In frightening detail, she shows how these lawsuits bullied CBS into a public apology for Smith’s reporting and how editors at The New York Times genuinely feared for the financial existence of the publication should it lose its landmark case brought by Sullivan.

But then, in 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that even if a publication had factual errors in its reporting on a public official, that public official must show that the publication new its story was false and published it anyway, with malice and reckless disregard for the truth.

But then, when Gen. Walker sued over stories that he instigated rioting during the integration of the University of Mississippi, the Supreme Court went a bit further in declaring that Sullivan protected publications from litigation not only from public officials, but from public figures, as well, thus cementing the right of freedom of the press.

In Sullivan’s Shadow is a must-read for political junkies, especially in a time when the adversarial relationship between the media and public officials–particularly on the national stage—is more acrimonious than it’s been since Montgomery, Birmingham and Neshoba County.

 

Read Full Post »

I watched the movie everyone was talking about this past weekend just to see what all the fuss was about. You know the one: The Avengers Endgame.

I’m not so much a fan of action movies, but after several years of watching local television newscasts, it did give me an idea for a sequel.

I have long contended that the only purpose of local TV news is to keep the lawyer ads from bumping together but hell, they don’t even make an attempt at separating them anymore. We get an ad for Attorney A, followed immediately by an ad for Attorney B, followed by some ad for some medication for some illness I didn’t even know I had, followed by the disclaimer that’s longer than the ad for the medication.

In one recent ad, I learned that the side effects for one medication can be both constipation and diarrhea, insomnia and drowsiness, depression and exhilaration—all in a single pill.

My neighbor was telling me the other day that his baby’s first words were: “Ask your doctor about…,” Other symptoms may include…,” One call, that’s all,” and “I want to be your lawyer for life.”

It’s a good thing the kid can’t answer the phone yet or he’d be saying, “Don’t hang up til you’ve heard this exciting offer,” “We can reduce your credit card interest rate,” “Your student loan application is approved,” or “Congratulations, you’ve won a free cruise.”

The glut of lawyer and prescription medication ads reminds me of one of my favorite sitcoms, WKRP in Cincinnati, where the radio station’s sole source of income seemed to come from its “Red Wiggler Worms” fish bait ads.

If you’re like me, you don’t care to hear any of that crap and you damned sure you don’t want your afternoon nap interrupted by some robo or push poll call.

And let’s face it, I’m sure a certain attorney is proud of his daughter’s going off to college and that he wants his son to get a haircut. But seriously, are we that eager to have them foisted off on us when we’re trying to watch the news to see who got shot last night in Baton Rouge?

I mean, we have our own families to fuss over. After all, I have a grandson who needs a haircut and a granddaughter in college, but so what? Do you really need to know that Every. Single. Noon. and. Night. On. The. Local. News? Get the cotton pickin’ haircut already and quit badgering us about it.

And do we really want a “paid actor” pretending to be a satisfied client of the attorney who “got me $700,000” blaring into our living rooms uninvited when the graphic beneath his/her image is telling us (in oh, such small lettering) that he/she is fake, a fraud, a shill? I think you can check that box “no.”

So, here’s my idea for the plot to the sequel:

Recruit Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Falcon and any of the others, the names of whom escape me for the moment.

Their mission is twofold:

One team, we’ll call it Team A, is to infiltrate every local TV station in Louisiana, find, and destroy all those mind-numbing medication ads and those goofy attorney commercials—and I mean ALL of them (except for that one Baton Rouge lawyer whose ads make fun of other lawyers, especially the one about a rival lawyer falling off the top of an 18-wheeler—those I like). It seems there’re more personal injury attorneys advertising today than Trump tweets. And your doctor is sick of being asked about all those medications. Zap all their ads. It would probably take only one or two superheroes to carry out that task what with all the TV stations being in Louisiana.

The second team, Team B, has a little more difficult assignment: Find the boiler rooms whence all those robo calls are emanating. Many of them are offshore, so it may take a few days, but it needs to be done as expeditiously as possible and with as much fanfare, forcefulness, crashes, fire, and explosions as in a real action movie.

Once located, a two-man team would be all that would be necessary to carry out wanton destruction: Thor and the Hulk. On second thought, maybe Spider Man could also have a role here.

With Thor’s hammer and the Hulk’s gigantic fists, they would crash through the doors of the boiler rooms and set about wreaking havoc on computers, phones, stolen IDs, and any other electronic equipment while Spider Man could secure all the “representatives” (I prefer to call them scam artists) in a giant web to be delivered to a hungry South Louisiana alligator.

I think that would be a great sequel, but I’m open to any ideas from others to improve on my concept.

Read Full Post »

On Thursday, WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge posted a story that was welcome news to the August 2016 flood victims, yours truly included.

The gist of the story was that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had waived the duplication of benefits provisions, clearing the way for flood victims who had to settle for SBA loans to rebuild their homes to receive compensation from FEMA through Restore Louisiana.

Until that provision was waived, anyone who did not receive FEMA funding was forced to accept the SBA loans. In some cases, as with me, victims were directed by FEMA reps to the SBA table to apply for loans. This was done without FEMA’s bothering to tell flood victims that if they accepted—or if they were even offered and declined—an SBA loan, they were automatically ineligible for other federal assistance.

So, as you might surmise, news of the waiver of the duplication of benefits stipulation was welcome news.

That story by WAFB-TV was posted at 8:41 a.m.

At 5:57 p.m., a scant eight hours later, I received my first scam call about my eligibility for federal assistance.

The call from Morgan City, my caller ID said. I know no one in Morgan City, but I answered anyway, thinking perhaps it may be someone with a tip for a story for LouisianaVoice.

Instead, it was a woman asking for me by name, although it took me about three or four tries to understand whom she was asking for. Then she launched into her spiel about my application, saying she need to confirm certain information. It took several times for that information to get through, which was just as well as it gave me time to wonder why someone would be calling from Morgan City about my FEMA application.

After asking her to repeat herself several times, the call was suddenly disconnected. When I tried to call back, I got the usual message on robo calls that the call could not be completed.

So, there you have it, folks. The scam artists are already busily scheming to prey on flood victims, some of whom still are not back in their homes and some, like me who, at 75, is saddled with a brand-new 30-year $125,000 mortgage.

The purpose of this is not to whine about my misfortune because to be honest, we fared better than many flood victims: we got an excellent general contractor who did everything he promised to do at the price he quoted—and he did excellent work.

The purposed of this is to put other victims on notice that the scammers are actively trying to steal your identity to bilk you out of anything you may have coming to you. You need to be alert to these people and NEVER divulge any personal information, including your Restore Louisiana application number, your social security number or anything else.

And just because my call showed up on caller ID as being from Morgan City (Area Code 985), that doesn’t mean diddly. They steal numbers so that it appears you are getting a local call. Your call may be from Hammond, Lafayette or anywhere, and from any area code.

DO NOT BE A VICTIM!

 

Read Full Post »

LSU basketball coach Will Wade has been REINSTATED and all those Tiger Athletic Foundation (TAF) supporters can breathe a sigh of relief.

But does anyone even remember the shabby treatment of STEVEN HATFIELD by LSU? Did anyone ever protest the disgraceful manner in which he was shown the door? Well, a handful of SCIENTISTS did protest Hatfield’s firing, but who listens to scientists anyway? Certainly not Donald Trump.

Hatfield, for those who may not remember, was an expert on biological warfare who, along with about 30 others, found themselves on the FBI’s list of “persons of interest” in connection with its investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks. Apparently, this honor was bestowed upon him because he had once passed through Fredrick, Maryland, where the anthrax envelopes were mailed from. Actually, he worked as a biodefense researcher for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick—enough to make him a “person of interest.”

Even though the FBI repeatedly said that Hatfill was not a suspect in the case, it nevertheless directed the university to prohibit Hatfill from participating in any projects financed by the Justice Department.

LSU meekly complied without asking the FBI for a shred of evidence. The university denied that its decision was influenced by the fact that LSU received substantial funds from the Justice Department for programs that trained law-enforcement and public health officials to handle bioterrorism attacks and similar crises.

Not satisfied with firing Hatfield, LSU went a step further in firing his boss, STEPHEN GUILLOT, director of the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training and the Academy for Counter-Terrorist Education.

And our legislators wonder why so many professors are looking at Louisiana in their rear-view mirrors.

Can you say “extortion”?

Hatfill had the last laugh, however, settling his LAWSUIT against LSU and the federal government for $4.6 million.

The odyssey of a former LSU BAND DIRECTOR got more ink than the injustices inflicted upon Hatfield.

The Baton Rouge SUNDAY ADVOCATE was liberally PEPPERED with stories SPECULATING with breathless anticipation the next steps for Wade and LSU. The gnashing of hands and wringing of teeth even carried over to Monday with yet another story that DICK VITALE had returned to a Baton Rouge radio show to discuss the monumental ongoing saga that, to rabid LSU fans at least, carries all the weight of say, the selection of a new Pope.

Yet, only minimal coverage was given to the manner in which LSU canned hurricane scientist IVOR VAN HEERDEN following his criticism of the U.S. Corps of Engineers because his public statements were “hurting LSU’s quest for federal funding across the board.”

Now that’s the humanitarian approach: go right for the bottom line.

The fact that van Heerden’s criticism was vindicated when tests of steel pilings revealed the very deficiencies, he had described that led to the levee breaches during Hurricane Katrina did nothing to prompt LSU to rush to reinstatement.

So, he did the obvious: he FILED SUIT filed suit against LSU in 2010 for wrongful termination.

LSU, if nothing else, is consistent. It doggedly defended the lawsuit, even after losing one key ruling after another until Jed Horne, a columnist for THE LENS, a New Orleans online news service, wrote:

Journalists and members of the LSU community who are aware of the ongoing persecution are disgusted and somewhat mystified that the university has chosen to go after van Heerden, rather than quietly settle this shameful case. It seems especially odd in light of the state’s increasing vulnerability to catastrophic storms and van Heerden’s proven expertise in anticipating their wrath—not to mention the high cost of protracted litigation as Gov. Bobby Jindal makes devastating cuts to the university’s budget.

Finally, after throwing $435,000 of taxpayer funds down a rat hole to defend the suit (benefiting no one but the state’s defense attorneys) LSU finally decided to settle in February 2013 for an undisclosed amount. Again, taxpayer dollars but this time the court concealed from public view the amount of the settlement, itself a disturbing trend when public dollars are involved.

While the local media in Baton Rouge have given extensive coverage to the travails of poor Will Wade (six-year, $15 million contract), not a nano-second of air time nor a single sentence has been devoted to the manner in which the LSU Dental School swept a multi-million-dollar scandal under the rug by firing the whistleblower who revealed that a joint replacement device developed by Dr. John Kent, head of the LSU School of Dentistry’s Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department, was defective. That the deficiencies resulted in excruciating pain and at least eight suicides wasn’t enough to prevent the department from ruining the career of DR. RANDALL SCHAFFER.

But thank God Will Wade has been reinstated.

Following drastic budget cuts to higher education in general and LSU in particular by the Bobby Jindal administration and his lap dog legislators, it was decided that LSU President JOHN LOMBARDI  John Lombardi had to go for his failure of leading LSU to its “true vision and leadership.” Lombardi had opposed some of Jindal’s PROPOSALS, a cardinal sin, it turned out.

One of the things that sealed Lombardi’s fate was his hesitancy to endorse the surrender of the LSU Medical Center via a contract containing 55 blank pages. The beneficiary of Jindal’s generosity, by the way, was a sitting member of the LSU Board of Supervisors who headed the outfit that took over University Medical Center in Shreveport. But no conflict there, apparently.

Also loath to approve the giveaway of one of the finest teaching hospital systems in America were LSU Health Care System head Dr. Fred Cerise and Interim Louisiana Public Hospital CEO Dr. Roxanne Townsend. On July 17, 2013, there was a meeting at which the privatization of the state’s system of LSU medical centers was pitched.

Both Cerise and Townsend were present at that meeting and both EXPRESSED THEIR RESERVATIONS. Members of the Board of Supervisors who were at the meeting “indicated they want LSU’s management to pursue this strategy,” according to a two-page summary of the meeting prepared by Cerise.

With days, two of the most respected members of the LSU medical community were gone. Fired.

But LSU has Will Wade back in the fold and all is well.

Following drastic budget cuts to higher education in general and LSU in particular by the Bobby Jindal administration and his lap dog legislators, it was decided that LSU President JOHN LOMBARDI had to go for his failure of leading LSU to its “true vision and leadership.” Lombardi had opposed some of Jindal’s PROPOSALS, a cardinal sin, it turned out.

And who could ever forget the humiliation the LSU Board heaped upon legendary football coach Charles McClendon by making the man wait in his car back in 1979 while the board decided his fate? He was canned because he couldn’t beat Bear Bryant. Well, guess what? No one else was beating the Bear either. If that is the barometer for a coach’s survival at LSU, then no coach’s job is safe as long at Nick what’s-his-name is at ‘Bama.

And the ham-fisted manner in which Athletic Director Joe (Duke lacrosse death angel) Alleva handled the LES MILES firing had all the delicacy and subtlety of Jack the Ripper.

But Will Wade is back and that makes everything okay.

Until the other shoe drops from the ongoing FBI investigation, as it almost surely will.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: