Random thoughts on issues connected to Don Siegelman, justice, steroids, and more . . .
Thank God for Dan Abrams!
And while we're at it, let's thank God for MSNBC. With Abrams and Keith Olbermann on the menu, those of us to the left of Rush Limbaugh actually have something to watch on cable these days.
It was heartening to see Abrams multipart "Bush League Justice" series last week. And it ended with a bang on Thursday night, with a report on the Don Siegelman case in Alabama. Scott Horton, of Harper's.org, and U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) proved to be articulate spokesmen for the growing number of Americans who sense the case was a grotesque example of selective prosecution by the Bush Department of Justice (DOJ).
By its nature, television is a medium of time constraints, and one had the impression that Horton and Davis easily could have talked for two hours or more about key issues connected to the Siegelman case. But the 20 minutes or so that Abrams devoted to the case made for compelling viewing. And the host vowed to follow the Siegelman/DOJ closely, even noting that the days of the mainstream media pretty much ignoring the case are over. Hear, hear!
Horton has a report on the Abrams segment, and notes that at least three major news organizations are working on stories that will break new leads in the Siegelman matter. It's only a matter of nailing down corroborative accounts, and Horton expects to see major news coming by the end of the year. Also, at least one of the developing stories is expected to break ground on close ties between Karl Rove and Alabama Governor Bob Riley related to the Siegelman matter. Can't wait for that.
Pravda of the South at it again
A fairly important national story, with connections to Alabama, broke last week. But you never would know it from reading The Birmingham News, which Harper's Scott Horton has so aptly called "The Pravda of the South."
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee found former presidential adviser Karl Rove and current White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify and turn over documents related to the firings of nine U.S. attorneys.
This all has huge implications for Alabama and the case of former Governor Don Siegelman. But after reading my paper on Friday, I thought, "Where in the heck was the Rove contempt story?" I had already seen it on the Web, and I figured a story with such ties to Alabama would receive prominent play in our state's largest paper.
I figured wrong. After scouring the paper with an electron microscope, I found the story in the National Briefs, on page 7A.
Steroids and Perspective
I've been a baseball fan pretty much all of my life, so I've been following stories about release of the Mitchell Report on steroids and baseball.
I understand it's a big story, and I was not surprised to see The Birmingham News put it on the front page of the paper, with blanket coverage in the sports section.
But it raises this question: Why so much attention to the issue of cheating baseball players and why so relatively little attention to the issue of cheating judges, prosecutors, and others connected to our justice system?
As Birmingham News columnist Ray Melick wrote: "Study after study suggests cheating has been on the rise in all areas of American life." Melick makes a good point. So why doesn't his newspaper cover the cheating by public officials that is going on right under its nose? And it's a form of cheating that is far more important to our society than the cheating that has been going on in baseball.
Oh, and did you see President Bush's comment about the Mitchell Report? "My hope is that this report is a part of putting the steroid era of baseball behind us," he said. "Steroids have sullied the game."
And who has sullied the U.S. Justice Department? And is Bush serious about putting the era of a corrupt justice department behind us? (See item above.)
Langford and the Dome
Looks like we might be in for some interesting stories connected to Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford, businessman Milton McGregor, and the proposed new dome for Birmingham.
A multipurpose dome has been discussed in Birmingham for years, usually connected to a need for more convention space. That has seemed to mean the dome would be connected to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex downtown. But Langford has proposed building the dome near the Birmingham Race Course, in an area where McGregor owns a significant amount of land.
The Birmingham News noted that this smells like a possible quid pro quo, with Langford doing a favor for a campaign supporter. The News has a point, and it appears that Langford could be heading down a slippery slope.
I applaud the News for aggressive reporting on this story. But where is the aggressive reporting when it involves Governor Bob Riley and sweetheart deals involving state contracts and a biotechnology center in Huntsville?