By Elliott Stonecipher
In recent days, one of Louisiana’s most trusted and experienced government watchdogs has been threatened with legal action by a consultant working for a state legislator. Then, more recently, that man, C. B. Forgotston, went to work on an issue of real currency and importance in Louisiana, only to have his work used with no credit whatsoever by a working reporter.
C. B. Forgotston is my friend, and often my guide. For many years before I took up this work, he was faithfully and doggedly doing it, prepared for it by decades of frontline experience in Louisiana government. As the news media’s hardest times in generations continue to unfold before us for all to see and suffer, the special place for the kind of research and blogging at issue here has grown.
As each of us who does this work knows, it only rarely elicits praise and commendation. Quite to the contrary, it is the territory of insults, attacks, threats of lawsuits and other such primal whines and squeals of public officials with much to hide. C.B. Forgotston original research: Article#1/; Article#2; Article#3 (WBRZ RIPOFF OF CB WORK) (WBRZ as PDF)
Enter into our important story another blogger who is a trained journalist with decades of experience, Tom Aswell. Tom’s Louisiana Voice blog has become a must-read for many Louisianans who care what is happening here. When Tom saw the offending news media report which didn’t bother to credit C. B. for very hard work on the subject at issue, Tom wrote about it. I ask you to take the time to read Tom’s post. I am honored to be named in it.
Here’s the thing. This work is very personal. At I sit at this keyboard, now and every other minute of doing this work, my walls are bare but for framed copies of a newspaper article about my son and me, a Wall Street Journal article I co-wrote, and a copy of the First Amendment. That First Amendment parchment is nearest to me, and went up many years earlier than the other two. What it says – you know, that stuff about “… (no) abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press …” – still thrills me, each and every time I read it.
I have two brothers, each a trained journalist. I include among my friends many – I consider myself very fortunate in this – excellent journalists around our nation who are highly ethical, and honorable, and devoted to accomplishing that which only tireless journalism can accomplish. More than a few of those are right here in Louisiana, and not one of them has ever said or written a word in objection to those of us who, too, “report” by way of blogs, columns in print, missives such as this one, or any other such communication.
It is late on Thursday evening. C. B. and Tom and Bob Mann and Marion Marks and I are writing and sending emails among and between us about all of this. These are personal, of course, but I will note that among the words various of us are comfortably using are “integrity,” “ethics,” and “honor.” Each of us, as you might have guessed, are “seasoned” in government and politics. Four of us who have worked in government and/or journalism have, as I add it up, some 140+ years of experience. We are not in the half-cocked business. We know the rules, and we follow them … with pride.
C. B., as I mentioned earlier, is now working under the threat of a lawsuit, as am I. Sadly, those threats against the two of us are being made by state employees and officials – people sworn one way or another to serve the public. This is a bad sign of what is now happening in our state, nurtured from the very top of officialdom.
Oh, by the way, and before I forget it, everyone I mentioned here does this research and writing, or blogging, or whatever one cares to call it, without pay. Where we come from, such has always been considered “public service,” as corny as such has come to sound.
To the reporter who hijacked C. B.’s long, difficult and continuing work about how a healthy list of state politicos who are likely stealing from the public, someone might tell him that nothing fires C. B. up like precisely that kind of stuff.
Elliott Stonecipher’s reports and commentaries are written strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the unedited sharing of his work is requested and appreciated.