I’m grateful to Tom Palmer for demonstrating the point I was trying to make with my Buddy Fletcher post more viscerally than I could have. I’m reprinting his brief post in full. Sue me if that’s improper*.
Remember before you read this that The Ledger itself published this line about Mayor Fletcher and the ethical violations he faced: Fletcher would have faced the possibility of removal from office had he not retired.
Anyway, here’s what Tom wrote:
It’s never a good sign when a blog post begins by saying something to the effect that I don’t have all of the facts, but I’m going to weigh in anyway.
So it was with a recent post at a local blog called Lakeland Local, whose author seemed to try to set up some comparison between The Ledger’s coverage of the Polk County Opporunity Council, whose mostly African-American board came under sustained scrutiny from The Ledger, and former Lakeland Mayor Buddy Fletcher, an icon of the establishment, at least in Lakeland society circles.
Just for the record, let’s put the two side by side and let you decide whether they’re comparables.
1) First of all, the “local blog called Lakeland Local…” part is funny. I suspect the same six people that read Tom’s blog read us. But then Tom has never underestimated his own importance. Trust me, “the author” shared cube space with him for about four years. Nonetheless, the helpful identifier, differentiating us from the rest of the crowded Lakeland media landscape, is appreciated.
2) The author did not seem to “try to set up a comparison.” I did set up a comparison. Overtly. Blatantly. With my name on it. No need to hedge on my behalf.
3) Most significantly, Tom’s piece suggests that the comparison is self-evidently invalid. OK, but I didn’t publish this: Fletcher would have faced the possibility of removal from office had he not retired. Tom’s newspaper did.
PCOC was an organization deemed too corrupt to continue its public function. I hate to say this, because it may offend some high falutin’ sensibilities out there, but, according to The Ledger, Buddy Fletcher faced the legitimate possibility that the state would deem him too corrupt to continue his public function. That’s what Fletcher would have faced the possibility of removal from office had he not retired means. The fact that Fletcher is “an icon of the establishment, at least in Lakeland society circles” is a comment on Lakeland establishment circles, not an exculpatory argument.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that if The Ledger’s wrong or misleading in writing Fletcher would have faced the possibility of removal from office had he not retired that the paper has done Fletcher a great disservice/injustice in even its very limited recounting of the Ethics Commission acitivity. Were it me, I would be screaming at anyone I scream at to correct it. That doesn’t seem to be happening.
Finally, Tom provides a link to the whole sordid history of PCOC, as documented by The Ledger, as a comparison with Fletcher’s ethical history. Again, fine. As I said in my previous post, John Chambliss and I had a lot to do with exposing the most recent round PCOC tomfoolery. We followed leads and published stories. We reported. One story led to another and another. That’s how investigative journalism works. It’s powerful. PCOC found that out.
It’s too bad that Tom – and apparently The Ledger – doesn’t think it’s worth focusing that power on “an icon of the establishment, at least in Lakeland society circles.”
* – Ed. Note: We don’t normally reproduce in full. We’ll change to a partial quote if the Ledger asks. If they prefer, we’ll grant them a license to reprint this article in full.