by Elliott Stonecipher
Looking deeper into the results of the November 4th / December 6th elections is the focus of this series of articles. The first installment focused on 2016 election cycle challenges to the Republican Party, as well as the ramped-up, deplorable use of race-baiting by some political partisans.
3. We need a straight-up traditional news media – more than ever.
Ollie Tyler was elected mayor last Saturday in my Shreveport hometown. Her election may long be overshadowed by information only now subject to public, if not official, consideration.
Although Ms. Tyler was once our local superintendent of schools and once our state superintendent of schools, none in the news media ever reported that early in her career she shot and killed her husband. This fact is all the more troubling since some in the news media withheld those facts from the public.
Ultimately, thanks to pressure applied by non-traditional media, the news forced its way into public view, albeit only enough for the traditional media to mention it in relative passing. Ms. Tyler has never directly, publicly answered any related questions. Instead, she gave only the Shreveport Times her version of events, which was then used in an article written to discredit the (factual) story and embrace Ms. Tyler, thus boosting her candidacy.
Ms. Tyler’s version of events is that she was a victim of domestic abuse, and was thus justified in the killing. Such may be true, but the only witnesses were her family members. The Shreveport Times was perceived by many to have supported her candidacy from the campaign jump, and ultimately published an endorsement of and for her.
The other candidate who made the December 6th run-off, Victoria Provenza, was revealed very late in the primary campaign to have suffered serious mental health problems during her career. Consistent with that fact, her description of her qualifications for the job proved grandiose, if not purely false. Only one news media source, Shreveport’s KTBS Television, reported the facts from an investigation of its own. It – and two or three others who worked to get these facts out – were widely pilloried and publicly attacked for doing so, this writer included.
The rest of the story in all of this is that neither person has any knowledge of, much less experience in, city government. Had all the available facts concerning the backgrounds of these candidates been published / broadcast before official qualifying ended, it is very likely other, i.e., qualified, candidates would have run.
I know of no time in Shreveport’s history when the need for a fair and conscientious news media was greater, or its failure likely more costly. I do thank KTBS for its work in an honest vetting of Ms. Provenza.
While on the subject, there is the matter of media coverage of our U. S. Senate campaign. Many hard news reporters in our state and national news media are my friends, some of whom are the best journalists I have known. Their work is a part of my daily, required preparation for what I do. It is that much more painful that some were remarkably biased in their reporting, in favor of Senator Landrieu. Such contributes greatly to the increasing distrust of our entire political process, not to mention the news media broadly.
Many readers may believe such news media failures and bias are nowadays a given, but my experience stands in solid contradiction. For every inarguably biased reporter I have known, there are many who are precisely what we hope for, and more and more desperately need.
4. The Louisiana Democratic Party and The Jonathan Gruber Effect
Between December 29, 2000 and December 1, 2014, the loss of Democratic Party voter registrations in Louisiana totaled 196,196. The news is even worse in the context of registration percentage. During those years, total voter registration increased from 2,598,968 to 2,945,649, much of it by way of automatic registrations of those signing-up for other public services. The combination of fleeing Democrats and the increase in total registrants drops the percentage of registered Dems from 60.4% to 46.7%.
Obviously, that statistical summary is enough on its face to have deterred Senator Landrieu from seeking re-election, but her ego got the best of her. Her defeat is a basketball-sized period at the end of the sentence about where the Louisiana Democratic Party has ended up.
Enter Karen Carter Peterson, a state senator and chairwoman of the party, and her official reaction to Ms. Landrieu’s embarrassing loss. Here’s the core:
“But the fact of the matter is this — the non-stop, onslaught of negative and inflammatory Koch Brothers ads, added to the toxic media environment driven by Fox News and the right-wing echo chamber, have made it challenging for us to drive out our message to voters.”
So, from the chairwoman’s perch, she sees her party sailing smoothly along here in Louisiana until the Koch brothers and Fox News attacked from the north and caught opposing Dems asleep in the middle of the night, seizing victory without so much as a discussion of terms of surrender.
Ms. Carter-Peterson neglects mention of the calamitous rate of desertions among Dem soldiers during the previous fourteen years.
The beliefs of Ms. Carter-Peterson and Obamacare “architect” MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber are prime targets of a majority of Americans in this year’s mid-term elections, each grabbing center stage to directly or indirectly assert the stupidity of so many of us just plain folks. We might at least credit Gruber, who limited his slander to matters of Obamacare / ACA, for being explicit.
Unveiled in all of this is a state Democratic Party running, unaided, up the political gallows stairs to slip the noose around its neck and jump.
Now, the credibly rumored intention of the group is to be born again as the spoiler in next year’s race for Louisiana governor. The hope is to catch arch enemy Republican U. S. Senator David Vitter in a run-off with a moderate candidate who combines thus rigged black votes with enough white ones to beat Devil-Darth Vader-Rasputin Vitter.
Current faves as the party’s kinda / sorta stand-in are Democrat-turned-Republican Scott Angelle, now a Public Service Commissioner, and Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, a moderate Republican attractive to some notable Legislative Black Caucus members and other African-American power brokers. There may well be others, but the loser from the jump is the currently assumed candidate, and real Democrat, State Representative John Bel Edwards.
We can bet that whatever happens with this strategy, which I call – “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Be ‘Em – is likely to end up looking, well, how do I say it? … stupid.
(Elliott Stonecipher is in no way affiliated with any political party. He has no client or other relationships which in any way influence his selections of subjects or the content of any article. His work is strictly in the public interest, with no compensation of any kind solicited or accepted. Appropriate credit to Mr. Stonecipher in the sharing – unedited only, please – of his work is appreciated.)