On the eve of the first debate between Senator David Vitter and Congressman Charlie Melancon, the Louisiana Democratic Party issued a strongly-worded appeal to “Louisiana’s notoriously timid press corps”: Dont’ be afraid to ask the tough questions. From Politico:
“We’re asking Louisiana’s notoriously timid press corps to show that they are not intimidated by David Vitter,” state party spokesman Kevin Franck said in a statement Monday. “For years now, Louisiana reporters have let David Vitter walk all over them, now finally a few of the state’s most senior journalists will have a chance to ask David Vitter the questions he’s been avoiding.”
Amen, Kevin. The Louisiana media isn’t complicit; they’re just complacent.
“Even after the national press broke the D.C. Madam scandal, the Times-Picayune refused to report on allegations from a New Orleans prostitute until after a local television station aired an interview with her. Of course it took a national outlet, ABC News, to break the [Brent] Furer scandal, even though most of the information about Furer’s criminal charges came from public documents available at Louisiana courthouses,” Franck told POLITICO, referring to the former aide.
It’s not just The Times-Picayune: It’s The Shreveport Times, The Town Talk, The Daily Advertiser, The Advocate, and The News Star, among others. It’s television news organizations all over the state.
Mr. Vitter was personally involved in a high-profile prostitution ring, and the mainstream Louisiana media, for the most part, was only capable of reprinting stories from the AP wire. They didn’t do any of their own investigative reporting. It was presented to Louisianans as a national scandal, and that’s how the Louisiana media reported it.
If I were moderating the upcoming debates between Mr. Vitter and Mr. Melancon, I’d be interested to hear Mr. Vitter answer the following questions:
1. When Bill Clinton was President, you called on him to resign from office after it was revealed that he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky. You wanted the President of the United States to resign from office because he had an affair. Why did you refuse to resign after your number was found on the D.C. Madam’s phone records and after publicly admitting to a “very serious sin”? Weren’t you also admitting to having an affair? At the time, weren’t you also an elected official? If Bill Clinton should have resigned, as you believe, why didn’t you?
2. And what, exactly, was that “very serious sin”? You’ve never clarified your statement for the people of Louisiana.
3. You’ve also stated that the “New Orleans” stories were untrue. What stories were you referring to? Have you ever met or had a relationship with the woman known as Wendy Cortez/Ellis/Yow? How can you assure voters that your involvement with the D.C. Madam was an isolated affair? These stories have followed you for most of your political career. Why can’t you issue a definitive statement about your own actions?
4. During the BP oil spill disaster, why did you sponsor legislation that would have effectively and definitively capped the damages BP could owe to taxpayers? Do you honestly believe the government should limit BP’s liability for damages? If so, why?
5. You employed a man, Brent Furer, who was found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend. The details of the crime are somewhat disturbing, and this man- your employee- had a track record: three DWIs and possession of cocaine. Yet, even after this, you continued to pay your aide, with taxpayer dollars. You can probably understand why many Louisianans are upset about this, but to add insult to injury, after your employee pled guilty to charges related to his assault of a young woman, your office tasked this aide to work on “women’s issues.” Recently, you’ve said that Mr. Furer never really worked on “women’s issues,” but it seems the record reflects otherwise. How do you respond? Why did you continue to employ this man?
6. You claim that your opponent, Mr. Melancon, is simply towing the line of President Obama. You’ve attacked him, on television, for voting for bailouts that were actually proposed by President Bush, a Republican. You’ve also attacked Mr. Melancon for supporting benefits for illegal immigrants. Yet his voting record on immigration is very similar to yours, and you surely know that your opponent, Mr. Melancon, is a Blue Dog Democrat who is known nationally for being a swing vote on certain, hot-button issues. Recently, The Gambit suggested that you are attempting to make this election a referendum against President Obama because you couldn’t win an election that was a referendum against David Vitter. How do you respond to this?
7. Please describe, in detail, Louisiana’s problem with illegal immigration and how Congressman Melancon has voted differently than you have. Let’s focus on real votes, not procedural votes, and on the problems specifically affecting Louisiana.
8. Do you believe in continuing the Republican moratorium on earmarks?
9. Did you vote for or against funding the first round of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program? What did this program hope to accomplish?