Anyone seeking evidence of how media and politics have changed as a result of the internet need look no further than page one of today’s Times Picayune (Pdf version here). Although you may wish to hold your nose.
L to R: Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao, President Barack Obama, and Democratic candidate for Cao’s seat, Cedric Richmond
Local blogger Jason Berry, who is listed on my “mates” page as someone I know and like, personally, has been posting a lot about Democratic congressional candidate Cedric Richmond, lately. Most of the posts are based on unattributed rumor although Berry has told me there’s more, if only someone making allegations against Richmond would go on the record.
As I say, I know Berry and like him, personally. We went to the pub together once, and I do like his blog. But I have reservations about his coverage of this issue. Especially given that Richmond’s Republican rival, Anh “Joseph” Cao is now referencing Berry’s coverage in letters to President Barack Obama, questioning his endorsement of Richmond in the close race.
I’m especially concerned that Cao’s media consultant, Cheron Brylski, who has been paid more than $23,000 by Cao’s campaign for media consulting, sent out an e-mail blast earlier this week, linking to Berry’s coverage but also this anonymous blog, which makes unsubstantiated rape allegations against Richmond. Brylski urged readers of the email to ask candidates if no has always meant no, in their personal relationships, and if they could take a lie detector test to prove it.
The uncouth South Londoner in me responds on Richmond’s behalf: “If you’ve got something to say, why don’t you come out and say it to my fucking face?”
Cao has denied knowledge of the anonymous blog, but has cited Berry’s coverage, says he won’t muzzle Brylski, and that he will “continue to look into allegations against Richmond.” Richmond, meanwhile, won’t deny the implicit allegations — which the Times Picayune today repeated in their front page story — but then, is he required to? I mean, are you still beating your wife?
Says the Louisiana Democratic Party:
“Joseph Cao and his allies are trying to take New Orleans politics back to the bad old days of Leander Perez and the White Citizens Council…Mr.Cao clearly thinks that an orchestrated whisper campaign based on racist stereotypes of African-American men will help him win votes, but those shameful race-baiting tactics have no place in today’s New Orleans.”
I’m inclined to agree with him. Then again, the moral high ground can feel awfully lonely on election day. As I said to Berry recently outside Mandina’s, I am really looking forward to reading more, if indeed there is more. Perhaps most of all because I hope he hasn’t gotten himself pawned by any slime merchants.