I'm sad to report that the unprecedented but brief outbreak of journalistic integrity in Western North Carolina is over.
Today in the Asheville Citizen-Times, Julie Ball wrote extensively about budget woes locally for the National Park Service. Apparently, (among other things) the Blue Ridge Parkway can't afford the 700,000 maps it hands out annually. Staff at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been cut by 13.
There are so many things wrong with the presentation of material, I literally don't know where to begin. And since I just listened repeatedly to the two audio clips they posted, I'm deeply depressed.
Has anyone ever listened to this guy? US Congressman (NC-11) Charles Taylor can barely string the words together to make a sentence. It's so painful to listen to him, I can understand why the reporter felt the need to jump the track between reporting and sympathizing. She just couldn’t stop herself from suggesting a phrase or two and softballing him on the questions.
However much sympathy I feel towards the reporter, I feel obligated to point out that nowhere in the article or on the audio clips does the reporter mention that Taylor is chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior.
That means there is no mention that he is personally either directly responsible for the budget cuts, an integral part of the budget process that resulted in these cuts, or, at the very least, he voted for these cuts more than once. Unless I have my federal departments wrong, the cuts most certainly began with the committee he chairs.
But who am I, sitting here in my bathrobe in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, who am I to criticize a reporter under who knows what kinds of pressures, who knows what kind of educational background or experience? I'll go after her editors. They are probably responsible for the titles of the audio clips:
"Congressman Taylor talks about funding for the Blue Ridge Parkway."
Nowhere in the clip does he discuss anything but funding for this new center which is apparently a different type of budget item from the Parkway's operations. And, again, no mention of the committee he chairs which was in charge of all of this. Nor did they mention he sits on the Appropriations Committee which is in charge of all funding everywhere. (After all, that’s his campaign’s re-election blackmail: “If you don’t vote for him, all the great funding we get from Washington will dry up.” Somebody’s got to start looking into where WNC truly stands on the “all the funding we get from Washington” mantra.)
The second clip is even more disturbing. It's titled:
"Congressman Taylor discusses how a tight budget doesn't necessarily mean cuts for the Blue Ridge Parkway."
First of all, he rambles extensively about how hard it is for congress (here come the violins) to deal with the constant lobbying efforts (now come the tears) on behalf of companies who want to unload their land by selling it to the feds, how much money it is to maintain all that new land (which has probably been clearcut and/or stripmined by all his cronies).
Nowhere in the clip is there any mention of (or questions about) how he misled, misrepresented, LIED to the folks in Macon county last month about the sales of National Forest lands right here in Western North Carolina. No mention that he'd said the sale’s “not gonna happen,” was dead, and then the Macon County paper reporter (bless her soul) discovered that there was absolutely no grain of truth in his words, and that, in fact, the sale was still on. [See Southern Dem's blog and NCDP for more.]
See how he Columboed it? Instead of talking about his distorting/deceiving/lying to his constituents about land sales they oppose that he’s all for – he bumbles on and on about how firm he’s had to be to his buddies (i.e., those evil lobbyists now in the news to which he has close ties. – I’m too tired to come up with the links but can you say Abramoff? Oh no, poor Julie, I just found this article in her own paper.)
And while he’s bumbling and rambling and sounding somewhat reasonable for a person who is deliberately lying and deceiving people every time he speaks, our dear inexperienced or inept or colluding reporter (I really have no idea which), helps him come up with phrases, backpeddles on her questions, and forgets to even ask the most obvious questions about the most obvious lies.
Maybe when you get near this guy, he has some kind of ultrasonic device that scrambles your brain. ‘Cause that’s how I feel right now, having spent the better part of an hour trying to explain it to myself!!!!
And I still haven’t gotten to the phrase “wrap up this war.” When talking about all the budget cuts we’ve had to make (he even mentions Katrina as if he cares), he alluded to the cost of wrapping up this war. Why isn’t the headline: Appropriations Committee heavy hitter has plans to wrap up this war? But I’m not up on all the latest BS out of Washington about whether or not you’re a traitor if you want the war to end. I guess now it’s in vogue to say “wrap up this war.” At least if you want to avoid discussing Forest Service land sales, ties to Abramoff, bank ties to Russian ex-KGB generals, budget cuts you personally engineered, and how little money from the federal government actually gets to the constituents you brag about serving so well.
Well, I’m going to “wrap up” this post and go for a walk.