…and it’s probably a good idea for everybody to listen to it. Georges, who now owns both the Advocate and the Times-Picayune and is merging the two into one operation which will more or less control the mainstream media reporting of political and other events in Louisiana, spends 36 minutes with Griffon essentially getting hammered the entire time in this clip.
The audio, and then some comments.
What stands out from this are a number of things.
First, Georges presents himself as a conservative Republican, something that lots of people who were involved with his ill-fated run for governor in 2007 said he was. But Griffon didn’t particularly take that assertion at face value, cross examining him on that score over the fact Georges ran as an independent in 2007 and then ran as a Democrat for mayor of New Orleans in 2010. Of course, no Republican has been mayor of New Orleans since Reconstruction, so it would make sense for Georges not to try to do so. Not that it mattered. Georges spent millions of dollars to get less than 10 percent of the vote in that election, losing to Mitch Landrieu that year (though it can be argued the real loser was the people of that city).
We think Georges might well be more conservative than not, but he runs with a crowd in uptown New Orleans which is decidedly Left, and it’s our guess he’s a lot more interested in being liked by those people than in striking a blow for individual liberty and small government. So where it comes to the newspaper he owns, Georges does very little to push a conservative agenda.
Griffon challenges him on this, repeatedly ripping the Advocate as a pro-John Bel Edwards rag – which it is – and particularly having a go at its political beat writer Tyler Bridges for his slanted coverage. Georges’ response was to mention that the Advocate has Dan Fagan as a conservative columnist, which is true of course and Fagan, an alumnus of The Hayride, is quite good. But he also brings up Jeff Sadow as a conservative writer The Advocate hired. Sadow doesn’t write for The Advocate anymore; he’s here. It seems somewhat bizarre that Georges would mention somebody who no longer writes for him as an example of editorial balance. Griffon let him off the hook on that topic, though he did make it quite clear that conservatives don’t buy the idea The Advocate is free of bias.
And a particular case in point was brought up in the interview Griffon deserves our thanks for. Namely, that was the write-up Bridges presented back in June of a Verne Kennedy poll from two months before which largely manufactured the narrative of Bel Edwards as a prohibitive frontrunner for re-election. Griffon said he’d talked to Kennedy and was told the pollster wouldn’t have released that poll two months after it was written, yet The Advocate did – and it was a pretty clear sign of the paper’s bias in shilling for the governor.
We wish Griffon would have jumped on the more recent writeup of a Kennedy poll Bridges did, as the survey Kennedy performed in mid-August had Edwards at a dangerously-low 38 percent, with Ralph Abraham at 25 and Eddie Rispone at 19. But Kennedy then retouched the numbers by assigning 90 percent of the black vote to Edwards, and by doing so boosted him above 50 percent – and that was the result Bridges reported rather than the actual numbers the respondents gave to Kennedy.
That was an even more recent example of bias in Bridges’ reportage, and Griffon perhaps missed an opportunity to challenge Georges on it.
Another perhaps even better example was Bridges’ write-up of the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs numbers, in which Louisiana was the only state in the past year to actually lose jobs. That result comes by way of the seasonally-adjusted jobs figure, which is the more widely accepted measurement. But by the unadjusted numbers, Louisiana didn’t lose 1,000 jobs but instead gained 4,800. Bridges wrote the Advocate story as a political dispute between the Louisiana GOP and Edwards’ camp, as the state GOP used the negative-1,000 number while Edwards used the unadjusted figure.
But that wasn’t the real story. The real story was that fact that Louisiana was the worst-performing state in America where it comes to job growth. You can’t crow about creating 4,800 jobs (in the best possible light) when Mississippi is creating 24,000 and Alabama 40,000. And none of the comparisons between Louisiana and its neighbors, which represent the actual substance of the story, made it into Bridges’ reportage. It wasn’t until a week or so later, a few days after we had exposed that substance in our own coverage, that Fagan addressed the dreadful jobs performance in his column. So the hard facts are disclosed in Advocate editorial columns while the straight reporting is all pro-Edwards spin.
Not a good look.
Griffon was 100 percent correct in letting Georges have it for his paper’s slanted coverage, and Georges needs to hear it. By buying up the competition and swallowing the Times-Picayune he’s essentially taken on the responsibility to serve as Louisiana’s only major newspaper publisher, and the product he’s putting out is woefully inadequate to that task. That he’s beaten up pretty badly by Griffon over The Advocate’s performance may, one hopes, produce an effort at improvement.
But we’re less than optimistic that’s what’s coming.