Monday, August 4, 2008

What's Driving Daily Dixie?

When I read Daily Dixie's attack piece on me Friday morning, my first thought was, "Gee, this seems to have come out of the blue."

But upon further review (as they say in the National Football League), I'm starting to think it wasn't so "out of the blue" after all. It has the feel of an orchestrated effort to blunt, or perhaps prevent, some future event.

What might that event be? Well, let's consider a few facts.

Greg Privett, investigative reporter at WHNT in Huntsville, is working on a story about Legal Schnauzer and my termination at UAB. Privett interviewed me at length a few weeks back, and I understand that he and a cameraman were in Birmingham last week to, among other things, shoot footage on the UAB campus for the story.

I don't know what other reporting Privett has done on the piece. But my guess is that he probably has tried to get comment from someone at UAB. Perhaps he's tried to get comment from U.S. attorney Alice Martin because evidence points to her playing a role in my termination.

From my own professional experience, I know that word can travel pretty fast when it becomes known that a reporter is working on a story. And that word can travel very quickly among folks who are less than thrilled about the story being done at all.

My saga recently has been reported by a number of news outlets that are national in scope--Raw Story, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Thom Hartmann Show, the Peter B. Collins Show. But the mainstream press in Alabama has pretty much ignored it, and I imagine that's just how the state's Republican power brokers want it.

Thanks to Greg Privett and WHNT, that might be about to change.

So we have a Huntsville television station working on a story about my blog and my termination at UAB. Then we suddenly have a Huntsville-based blogger attacking me. Is that a coincidence? I doubt it.

Does Dan Roberts of Daily Dixie take a critical look at the facts surrounding my termination or my legal case? Heck no, he evidently isn't capable of doing that. So he throws the same kind of mud at me that GOPer's have been slinging at Jill Simpson for months--I'm nuts, I'm loony, I'm delusional, I'm paranoid.

Very clever stuff from our guy Roberts. And here's the strange thing: Just a few weeks ago, he wrote that he thought UAB's actions in my termination didn't smell right, that it was "setting off flags" for him. Now, he says I'm delusional, etc.

What changed? My guess is that word got around about Greg Privett's story for WHNT, and a few GOP types decided to launch a campaign to discredit me. A blog based in Huntsville probably seemed like a good place to start.

Just as has happened with Jill Simpson, they can't attack the facts of my story. So they raise questions about my mental health. One of the oldest tricks in the book.

Are GOPers really all that worried about a possible story on my termination? Heck, I don't know. But I think such a story would add to the growing body of evidence that Alabamians like Don Siegelman, Sue Schmitz, and Alex Latifi were wronged by the Bush Justice Department.

It's not that my experience necessarily rises to the level of these other stories. Those all involved wrongful criminal charges brought against people involved in public service or government- contract work. I'm just a regular guy who was cheated out of his job.

That "regular guy" component of it, I think, would resonate with quite a few Alabamians. A lot of middle-class folks might not be able to identify with Siegelman, Schmitz, or Latifi. But they probably can identify with someone who has worked 19 years at a state institution and gets fired on charges that would have to improve drastically to reach the level of flimsy.

Some people might see such a story and think, "Good grief, if this guy at UAB got cheated, maybe Siegelman and those other people really did get the shaft."

Alabama Republicans probably don't want those thoughts making the rounds. And I suspect that's what was behind the Daily Dixie diatribe.

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