You would think, after his big nationally syndicated story on convicted murderer Clyde Giddens was exposed as a fraud, that the Baton Rouge Advocate would want to do everything it could to minimize the damage Bridges could do to himself and the paper he works for by having somebody else cover Giddens’ appearance at the Parole Board yesterday.
You’d be wrong.
Giddens’ story is as disgusting as they come. In 1963 he set himself upon a 35-year old woman named Earline Bamburg, whom he blamed for the breakup of his marriage, and stabbed her to death. Giddens then chopped up her body, feeding parts of her to the dogs and setting the rest on fire, burning her house down in the process. He pled guilty to the crime and Bamburg’s family agreed not to seek the death penalty in exchange for a guarantee that he wouldn’t be let out of jail until he assumed room temperature.
Since then Giddens has sought parole or clemency more than 15 times, all unsuccessfully. He tried again yesterday, gaining a positive recommendation from Jimmy LeBlanc, head of Louisiana’s scandal-ridden and completely incompetent Department of Corrections for a medical furlough to be put in a nursing home – a potential result made possible by the criminal justice reform package passed last year that was touted by Bridges in that syndicated piece featuring Giddens as a sympathetic, arthritic old man deserving of charity.
Except Giddens lied about why he was in jail, claiming he’d killed a man in a bar fight, and Bridges failed to fact-check a convicted murderer whose case was hardly unknown. He published a story, first in the Washington Post and then for syndication in newspapers across the country, with the lie.
The Bamburg family, asked about the story last week for a report by KTBS-TV in Shreveport on the Giddens case, called the Bridges story “appalling.” Two days after we published a post here at the Hayride making note of the false Washington Post report it was changed (whether our bringing it to light had something to do with the change, we can’t say)…
Correction: A previous version of this story, published on May, 18, 2017, included incorrect information about the crime for which Louisiana inmate Clyde Giddens is serving a life sentence. Giddens pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in 1964 for killing and dismembering a woman. Giddens, who is seeking early release from prison because of health problems, told a reporter that he received the life sentence for fighting with a man and stabbing him to death. Giddens’s name and the incorrect information were removed from this story on March 14, 2018.
To have gotten such a material fact so totally wrong is about as embarrassing as is possible, and as we said you’d think the Advocate would want as much distance between Bridges and its own reporting on the Giddens case as they could get.
The five members of the Bamburg family sat on black plastic chairs, waiting patiently for the hearing to begin on Thursday in Baton Rouge.
Just past 8:30 a.m., a feeble old man appeared in a wheelchair via video conferencing from a room at Angola, the state’s maximum-security penitentiary.
Clyde Giddens, 77, gave his name and inmate number to the three members of the Louisiana Board of Pardons’ Committee on Parole. He was requesting a medical treatment furlough under an obscure provision in a bill passed by the state Legislature last year that aims to reduce Louisiana’s incarceration rate, the nation’s highest.
Most of the state’s effort focuses on letting non-violent offenders out earlier than scheduled, but it also envisions releasing some violent offenders, like Giddens, who are seen as too sick to be dangerous.
Angola’s medical director, wearing a white coat and sitting next to Giddens, listed the inmate’s infirmities: arthritis, an enlarged prostate, a fractured leg, incontinence and dementia, among others.
“He meets the standards for nursing home placement,” said Dr. Randy Lavespere. “He’s one in need of total care.”
When Lavespere was done, Dennis Bamburg stood up and walked to a podium facing the board members.
He told them that Giddens had murdered his mother, Earline, and he said he totally opposed the inmate’s release. “The crime he did was so bad,” Bamburg said. “It should keep him from ever being released from Angola.”
The story doesn’t have any quotes from members of the Bamburg family outside of what was said at the hearing. One almost gets the impression that none of the Bamburgs would talk to Bridges, which wouldn’t be much of a surprise seeing as though he wrote their mother and grandmother out of existence in a nationally syndicated story agitating for her murderer to go into a nursing home.
This appears to be the standard Louisiana’s legacy media holds to in 2018. They’ll put somebody who’s already been caught publishing provable untruths on a particular subject in charge of further reports on that subject.
Let’s remember that when the Advocate and its peers purport to “inform” us on the issues of the day in Louisiana going forward.