Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sliming Artur Davis

I love it when Scott Horton, of Harper's, accurately predicts what The Birmingham News is going to do before the paper even does it.

It happened a few weeks ago when the News evidently assigned Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Brett Blackledge to write a story calling into question the accuracy of Jill Simpson's affidavit in the Don Siegelman case. Horton wrote about the brewing story on a Saturday evening, and it appeared in the News the next morning.

Well, it's happened again. And evidently Mr. Horton has some darn good sources on the inside at The Birmingham News. That indicates the paper has at least one employee with the conscience, and the guts, to stand up to his or her employer's right-wing, low-rent tactics. Perhaps there is hope for the world yet.

Horton posted yesterday that the News was about to publish a major piece, sliming U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL), who is leading the Congressional investigation into the Bush Department of Justice scandal. And what to our wandering eyes should appear this morning upon perusing the front page of the News? Why, the very story to which Horton had referred, written by the one and only Brett Blackledge.

As Horton says, by casting a critical eye toward the News' conservative brethren Artur Davis clearly has pissed off the big dogs at Birmingham's trusted daily. Check out the story yourself and decide if it has any significant news value, other than to send this message to Davis: Watch your step, bub. I guess it was this or burn down Davis' house.

Horton has come to calling Birmingham's daily "the Pravda of the South." I'm starting to think it's unfair to sully Pravda's good name by making that comparison.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, interesting your take on the Horton thing. I just read the Birmingham News story, and it wasn't at all what he said, or what you said. That story isn't about Artur Davis. It's about the McKell lady, and colleges. How is that good information from Horton? Did I miss something? Or do you just follow that guy around with your pants down all the time?

Anonymous said...

By the way, the source for Horton's blog piece was Artur Davis' staff, one of the aides who arranged the interview for the reporter. I have a friend who works with Artur, and they understand that the staff person called Horton nervous about what The News was writing.

mooncat said...

This is exactly what Horton mentioned. Associate McKell with Nick Bailey, Don Siegelman and the 2 year college system. Imply that she has done shady things by being on loan off campus. Then tie her (prominently, like in the first sentence of the article) to Artur Davis. Classic guilt by association. At least that's the impression the article leaves. Please don't tell me a Pulitzer Prize winning writer did that by mistake.

Anonymous said...

Of course, the question remains to be asked--why was McKell working on Davis's staff, but being paid with state dollars. Somehow, I think if she had worked for a Republican Representative, Roger and Horton would be screaming for yet another investigation. Funny how they don't seem to mind Democratic sleaze (e.g. they've ignored the entire two-year college scandal).

legalschnauzer said...

Actually, she did work for a Republican, Bob Riley.

legalschnauzer said...

FYI, I've mentioned the two-year colleges scandal on this blog several times and noted that The Birmingham News did some serious reporting on it and won a Pulitzer Prize for it.

If there are corrupt Democrats out there, I say smoke 'em out, and that evidently has happened with the two-year colleges story.

It should cut both ways, though. The News' has a habit of ignoring or downplaying GOP sleaze.

How much reporting has been done in Alabama papers on the ties between our current governor and Jack Abramoff? How much reporting has been done on the DOJ scandal. Very little, compared to the News' coverage of two-year colleges.

As for Artur Davis, I see nothing in the story so far to indicate he did anything improper, illegal, or unusual. And it seems interesting this would come three days after Jill Simpson's interview in Congress.

Anonymous said...

Roger, my point is that she was working in a FEDERAL office and being paid with STATE funds. She did not work in Riley's office when he was in Congress, she was left over from the Siegelman administration in the Governor's office. At any rate I didn't question her employment for either Siegelman or Riley, but her work, at state expanse for Davis. Facts, Roger, stick with the facts.

legalschnauzer said...

If Davis did something improper, he'll need to deal with it. I wonder if there are similar situations involving Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby, Spencer Bachus etc.

Think the News will look into this issue in a broader sense?

The timing of the News story is interesting. They've been investigating the two-year college problem for, what, about two years? And they uncover this on Davis three days after the Simpson interview in Congress?

Evidently someone at the News thinks it's fishy or they wouldn't have told Scott Horton about it. I'm assuming Horton will post on it soon, and I'm looking forward to any followup stories in the News.

Anonymous said...

Again, Horton found out about The News writing their story from a person working with Artur Davis who also was interviewed by The News. At least that's what Horton is telling people privately. The Davis staffer called Horton to get him to write something, thinking the story was about Artur Davis, when it really wasn't. Actually, it read more like a story about Siegelman.

mooncat said...

I'm not sure this practice is particularly unusual. It's been a few years, but it was common practice for my federal employer to loan employees to congressional staffs. Private industry did the same thing. The Congressmembers got someone with experience in a particular area and the organization doing the loan got some insight into how the legislative process worked and what the priorities were. And Ms. McKell's supervisors did not seem to have a problem with having her on extended loan.

Anonymous said...

Mooncat--again you make my point--federal employers loaning employees to congressional staffs--they are both federal. Again, I come to the question--what are STATE taxpayers funding staff for a FEDERAL office?