|Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell|
Andrew Kreig, a D.C.-based lawyer and journalist, takes the MSM to task for its coverage of the Bentley scandal, in a new column at the Justice-Integrity Project. The piece is titled "Alabama blogger, not mainstream media, exposed state house scandal."
We appreciate Kreig's recognition that the Bentley scandal broke here at Legal Schnauzer, not al.com or any other mainstream outlet. In fact, we broke the story almost seven months before the MSM hopped on the train, and during those intervening months, al.com reporters John Archibald, Chuck Dean (yes, he of Ashley Madison fame), and Leada Gore mostly tried to debunk the story and attack my reporting.
I'm never surprised when al.com -- a consortium of Alabama right-wing rags -- sinks to lazy, dishonest, or underhanded reporting. But it is disappointing when even progressive journalists, like Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC, can't get it right about the origins of the Bentley scandal.
I'm a fan of both Maddow and O'Donnell, and I appreciate that Maddow has been, by far, the most prominent journalist to cover the story; she has devoted segments to it on at least a half dozen occasions, giving it the kind of probing, insightful treatment her viewers have come to expect.
But she repeatedly has gotten it wrong about who broke the story. (Rachel, it was me, dammit!!!) On multiple occasions, she has credited al.com and John Archibald with breaking the story. That's not even close to being accurate; they tried to squelch the story and trash the reporter who did break it.
MSNBC took it a step further after her report Monday night, after Bentley had resigned. During the talky transition from one show to another, O'Donnell gave Maddow credit for being out front on the story, before everyone. (Cough . . . hack . . . snort!) Maddow did not say anything that indicated she disagreed with that assessment.
Two cable news stars broadcast a repulsive but revealing display of self-promotion Aug. 10 when MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell credited fellow anchor Rachel Maddow for coverage prompting the resignation of Alabama's scandal-ridden governor earlier in the day. "You alone," he told her, covered the scandal.
But credit belongs not to the heavily promoted Maddow . . . but to the courageous Alabama blogger Roger Shuler. He has been financially ruined, beaten and jailed for his relentless investigations of top state officials, including the just-departed GOP Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley.
Shuler broke the story of the scandals arising from Bentley's affair with a highly paid state aide, Rebekah Mason Caldwell. . . . Shuler began with a column Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley engaged in extramarital affair that prompted First Lady's divorce complaint on Aug. 31, 2015. He followed with two more such columns over the next two days.
Kreig goes on describe the heavy price my wife, Carol, and I have paid for my progressive journalism in a Deep Red state -- and he shows that real journalism can start at the grassroots level, not necessarily in a New York-based newsroom or studio:
The story of his scoop is particularly apt now because of the awful price that Shuler and his wife Carol have paid for such work. Also, the mainstream media are waging a heavy-handed public relations campaign against bloggers, alternative media and those falling under the smear of "fake news" and "conspiracy theory."
This is the first of several columns we plan about those developments, which are prominent this week in part because of the annual annual announcement of Pulitzer Prizes. The Pulitzers were dominated as usual by winners from the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal in major categories. . . .
But there's much more to journalism than the big outlets. Grassroots practitioners like Shuler across the country do not and cannot spend their scarce income much on application fees to compete in such contests, even in the unlikely event their work would receive serious consideration from the corporate-controlled media that control such recognition.
So, we focus for now on the brave and largely unreported tale of how Shuler, an impoverished blogger in flight with his wife from autocratic Alabama judges managed to bring down his state's governor in the kind of mind-boggling sex, legal and financial scandal whose revelation has become commonplace recently in that state.
Kreig provides extensive details on how the story was broken -- and the environment in which it was broken: (Hint: It did not involve Rachel Maddow or John Archibald.)
Bentley's resignation means the leadership of all three branches of Alabama's state government has been ousted in less than a year because of scandal, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (permanently suspended for refusing to follow U.S. Supreme Court precedent on gay rights that conflict with his understanding of The Bible) and House Speaker Mike Hubbard, arguably the most powerful state official and convicted last June of 12 felonies involving massive graft. . . .
The irony is that Shuler gets virtually nothing for it — hardly any money and very little recognition, and probably many more legal hassles to come — whereas the MSNBC anchors are reported to receive multi-million-dollar annual salaries.
|John Archibald discusses Bentley scandal on MSNBC|
What's most important about this, however, is not who gets the credit for this particular story. The vital point instead should be greater public awareness that a healthy society depends on the different strengths that independent blogging and mainstream news bring to civic awareness.
Are Maddow and O'Donnell intentionally trying to deceive their viewers about the origins of the Bentley scandal? I don't think so. They are based in New York -- a long way from the heart of the story -- and they probably assume that any major story in Alabama must have been broken by one of the state's major news outlets. They probably have no idea that al.com -- known mainly for decades as The Birmingham News -- has long been little more than a GOP house organ, supporting the likes of knuckle-draggers like U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby and former U.S. Sen. (now Trump attorney general) Jeff Sessions.
Maddow certainly deserves credit for her coverage of the Bentley scandal, and I suspect both she and O'Donnell have their hearts in the right place. Any of their journalistic sins likely have been of omission, not commission.
As for genuine deceit, it has been present in other MSM quarters, and I discussed that -- and other Bentley-related issues -- earlier this week with one of the nation's most knowledgeable progressive radio hosts.
A post on that is coming right up.