Few activities in life are more enjoyable than reading Scott Horton when he is exposing the Alabama press, especially The Birmingham News, as a bunch of right-wing lackeys.
Horton writes the No Comment blog for Harper's magazine. And today's post, "Lieutenant Gustl Visits Alabama, is one for the ages.
"It's hard to think of a place where the press is quite so blighted as Alabama," Horton writes. "Albania perhaps? Zimbabwe?"
Then he goes on to dissect today's Birmingham News editorial on the Don Siegelman prosecution and the prospect of a Congressional investigation.
Horton's piece has too many highlights to mention. But perhaps my favorite comes when The News states (as it has several times previously) that the alleged conversation outlined in Simpson's affidavit took place months after the federal investigation of Siegelman became public knowledge. The News makes this assertion as if it somehow proves that Karl Rove and the Bush Administration had nothing to do with the Siegelman case. And Horton is just the guy to call them on it.
"Of course, her affidavit said that," he writes. "It said that Rove had previously discussed the case with Justice."
Watching someone of Horton's intellect take on The Birmingham News is like watching George Foreman battle Gary Coleman in the boxing ring. It seems hopelessly unfair, but you can't help but watch.
As for the Legal Schnauzer case, it almost makes me glad the Alabama press has ignored it. I'm not sure there is a mainstream Alabama media outfit that has the curiosity, ability, and intellectual honesty to pursue a story like the one you will see unfold on this blog.
Actually, I think there are some quite capable individual reporters in Alabama. But leadership at the state's news outlets seems to be sorely lacking. In that regard, Alabama's press is a lot like its courts.
At the lower levels of the Alabama justice system--the law libraries, the clerk's offices--you will find some outstanding people. But the higher up you go, the worse it gets. And the stench is most foul at the top, where the judges reside.