News - Is Mayor Bill Campbell being unfairly targeted by the media?
Yes. The lame duck" mayor has never enjoyed kind words from local media."
As Mayor Bill Campbell continues to suffer the consequences of last year's public falling-out with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — thus canceling his newspaper subscription — the gloves have been removed. This "lame duck" mayor has never enjoyed kind words from the local media. Now that the North Carolina-native faces a possible investigation into unreported speaking fees and a federal probe into charges of alleged corruption, a deeper, more sinister plot may also be afoot — one leading mainstream media to question such issues as where he buys his clothes, for example, or how he spends his after-office hours.
A conspiracy to assassinate Bill Campbell's character apparently resonates not only from the Department of Justice, but also from some perched atop 72 Marietta Street.
Granted, legitimate news stories arise when public officials are accused of violating the law. Further, investigative reporters are mandated to ferret out the truth behind allegations of City Hall corruption and cronyism. Any undermining of basic democratic principles belittles not only current and future officeholders — black and white — but future generations of voters, whose elders already mock the electoral process with malignant apathy.
But here's the real dilemma: As the mayor and AJC engage in very public fisticuffs, the African-American community at large watch with horror — and, for some, with glee.
Polarizing forces are shaping a "divide and conquer" mindset. Religious and civil rights leaders have stepped to Campbell's defense, calling on federal officials for a "swift and responsible" investigation if evidence of wrongdoing exists — but not for a "witch hunt" that may do irreparable harm to black Atlantans overall. And just such a witch-hunt mentality comes into play when sensationalistic stories appear concerning the selection of a public official's clothing store, how he travels when accepting an unsolicited lecture invitation, and whether personal money was dispensed for personal recreation.
The days of the civil rights movement's ill treatment at the hands of the FBI and other agencies of that era remain fresh in the minds of those "marched too long, bled too profusely, and wept too bitterly."
What remains to be seen is the real story behind the Campbell saga. The accusations may hold some validity. But probing questions into maintaining effective, honest government should be the motivation for media coverage. Instead of personal vendettas played out in the press, reporters and editors should seek to report objectively, responsibly — and with civility.