|John Archibald, discussing the Bentley scandal on MSNBC|
Our questions ran from the probing to the absurd, and Collins and I decided the above question fell into the latter category. In fact, we were thinking along the same lines, and when that realization hit, it presented an LOL moment for both of us.
On a serious matter, Collins proved prescient about the direction any post-Bentley investigation might take. In fact, he essentially predicted the "no probable cause" finding on the "Luv Guv's" adviser and mistress Rebekah Caldwell Mason, two days before it happened.
At the heart of our journalism discussion was al.com columnist John Archibald, who had appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show the night before and accepted credit for breaking the Bentley-scandal story -- which, of course, we broke here at Legal Schnauzer. This is not the first time this has happened on the Maddow Show, as she has been by far the most prominent journalist to shine a regular spotlight on the state of "affairs" in the Bentley administration.
To my knowledge, Archibald never has appeared on the show and said, "I broke the Bentley/Mason "Luv Guv" story." (Perhaps that's because he knows he didn't.) But he never corrects Maddow when she gives him credit for breaking it and heaps praise on both him and his ethically challenged "news organization." That led to the following exchange between Peter B. Collins and me.
Peter B. Collins (PBC) -- Maddow gave John Archibald full credit. Archibald himself didn't bother to say, "Well, you know, there was a blogger . . . "
Legal Schnauzer (LS) -- laughing . . . I can't help laughing because I thought of this same scenario.
PB -- Go ahead and laugh all you want, you deserve it. Here's Archibald being treated like a Pulitzer Prize nominee, and he doesn't have the good judgment and generosity to say, "Well, some other people broke the story, and I'm riding on their coattails."
LS -- I've imagined that same scenario -- and knew he wouldn't do it, wouldn't have the integrity to correct Rachel on the air and say, "I have reported on it, but I didn't break it, and my organization didn't break it, and for seven months we tried to squelch it. He said [my story] was "smoke" and "no fire, no facts, no proof." That's what's really galling. He not only didn't break it, he was seven months behind the curve . . .
PB -- And he was carrying water for Bentley!
As for Peter B's ability to foretell the future, consider this comment, made two days before the "no probable cause " finding on Rebekah Caldwell Mason:
PB -- My guess is . . . the way these things typically roll, now that [Bentley] has resigned, they will put it in a steamer trunk and bury it. There is no appetite to go further.
Talk about nailing it. Here are some other highlights from our discussion, where we either nailed it, missed it, or tried to act like we knew what we were talking about:
About Heather Hannah and her role as a hero in the Bentley scandal
LS -- For your listeners who might be football fans, she's the niece of John Hannah, who played for the New England Patriots and many consider to be the best football player to come out of the University of Alabama. . . . Bentley was attacking a member of what might be called "The First Family of Alabama football." Shows how stupid Bentley was. She's a very young woman, but she stood up to [the governor] and is a real hero in this.
On similarities between Heather Hannah's experiences and those of my wife, Carol, and me
LS -- As we read about Heather Hannah's experience, it was like having flashbacks. Bentley was trying to have her arrested, and we were arrested. She had vandalism at her home, which we had in the midst of our problems with the neighbor who has a criminal record. She had a rock thrown through her window, and we had a metal measuring tape thrown through ours. She had death threats written on her car, and we had death threats.
I thought, "My God, this sounds a lot like what we went through. The big picture is the misuse of law enforcement. This young woman did not do anything like a crime. They were trying to get her on a criminal eavesdropping statute, but Dianne Bentley was the one who placed the recording device. And she had every right to do that, as co-owner of the property. You can put an eavesdropping device in your own home.
On the roaming eyes of Southern "Christians," and how the "Luv Guv" Scandal was broken
LS -- These people, it's like they eat hypocrisy for breakfast. [Bentley] and his wife had been married for 50 years, and that's how the whole story started; she filed for divorce. . . . I talk about breaking the story, but to be honest, it wasn't a great act of shoe-leather journalism on my part. The minute Mrs. Bentley filed the divorce complaint, I had people -- who I knew were knowledgeable on politics -- calling me. All I had to do was sit there and listen. The story came to me more than the other way around.
|Peter B. Collins|
LS -- Yes! I put a worm on my hook, and next thing I know, I started reeling them in. If I did anything right in all of this, these people knew they could call me, and I would listen and take it seriously. You call al.com with a story about a Republican, and they just stick it in the desk drawer.
On my reporting about the Ashley Madison scam, and how it relates to the "Luv Guv" scandal
LS -- "I was astonished when reporting on the Ashley Madison story, how many familiar names I saw . . . "That guy's head of a bank" or "That guy's head of an engineering company. I tracked it down because I know the zip codes -- and the areas of town called Over the Mountain in Birmingham, where people with money and who vote Republican tend to live.
"It's very two-faced. One of the first things Bentley did, on his Inauguration Day, was to say, "If you haven't been saved by Jesus, you aren't my brother, and I want to be your brother -- something outrageously stupid like that. Everybody thought, "He's a harmless grandpa, how much harm can he do?" Grandpa has impure thoughts, as it turns out."
On the price paid for reporting on conservative corruption in Alabama
LS -- I broke the Bentley story on August 31, 2015, and nine days later -- we were living here in Springfield, Missouri, by that time because our house basically had been stolen in Alabama due to a wrongful foreclosure, and we wound up here, where I grew up -- but nine days after I broke the story, we were the subjects of a terrifying eviction that was unlawful. Carol had her arm snapped like a twig, and deputies pointed an assault rifle at my head. You wonder, when that happened so close together, if the Bentley team had something to do with it. It's been reported in several places that Bentley used state and federal criminal databases to look up dirt on me. . . . That's an example of the blow back you can get. These Republicans in the South, it's a lot like organized crime.
On possible criminal exposure for Rebekah Mason -- despite the "no probable cause" finding
LS -- Usually, prosecutors cut a deal with the lower-level person to get them to testify against a person higher up the food chain. In this case, it seems to be working in reverse. I don't know what will happen with [Mason] or other underlings. But in a real justice system -- which Alabama does not have -- she would have significant legal exposure.
On a personal level, if someone on their behalf targeted Carol and me, we are going to be looking at a lawsuit. And they already are facing several lawsuits.
The big issue with this plea deal is they didn't respond to investigative requests. Hardly any e-mails or text messages were turned over. In the digital world, that's where many crimes now are revealed. They've gotten away with a cover up, so far.
On the racism and classism that drive postmodern political corruption
LS -- We live in a country right now where if you are white and conservative, you get away with stuff. If you are white or black and liberal, watch out. The whole 14th Amendment stuff about equal protection and due process becomes a joke. That's been the theme of my blog for 10 years.