As faithful readers know, I’ve never been a fan of Steve Coco, the former Rapides Parish Police Juror and semi-professional teleprompter reader. A few years ago, Mr. Coco, a Republican, after retiring as an evening news anchor from the local NBC affiliate, launched a website, cenlanews.com, generously and hilariously calling himself “Central Louisiana’s most qualified, experienced news source.” Since its inception, Mr. Coco’s website has been continuously plagued by the facts and has been largely concerned with his own personal vendettas. It’s never been a news site, and even as a blog, it’s not particularly well-written or clever.
Ordinarily, it would have been easy enough to ignore, except that in Central Louisiana, Steve Coco, by virtue of his on-camera job with KALB-TV, is widely-known as a personality. And, more importantly, until his recent defeat, Steve Coco was an elected member of the Rapides Parish Police Jury, representing part of the City of Alexandria. And now, Steve Coco is running to become Alexandria’s next at-large member of the City Council.
To be sure, I’ve never considered Mr. Coco a credible journalist, but because he was an elected official who published his very own “news” website, I’ve paid attention. (It’s worth noting that Coco’s first campaign appears to have been funded, almost entirely, by his girlfriend at the time and that he won that election by only two votes).
Mr. Coco’s brief stint on the Police Jury was utterly unremarkable. During his four years, he didn’t introduce a single piece of meaningful legislation and apparently spent quite a bit of time with the late Greg Aymond, a controversial and often incendiary blogger and former member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Mr. Coco also spent a lot of time hammering out missives on his website. Among my personal favorites, he reported that the National Association of County Officials had published an (obviously-doctored) photograph of President Obama smoking a cigarette, writing:
Since blatant ignorance reigns unchecked in Cenla, here’s background information on this photo of Barack Obama (The White House Marlboro Man).
Several people continue to claim the picture is a fake. Evidently they believe it’s impossible that there’s any evidence of Obama having a cigarette in his mouth and that he could be smoking in the White House and aboard Air Force One. This picture was published by NACO, the National Association of Counties, founded in 1935. NACO’s membership totals more than 2-thousand counties, representing over 80% of the nation’s population. NACO headquarters is on Capitol Hill, publishing a biweekly newspaper, County News, that focuses on issues and actions in Washington, D.C. and around the Country.
NACO officials meet regularly with the President at the White House. Maybe that’s where they took the picture.
If you still think the picture’s a fake, prove otherwise.
So, here’s what I did: I contacted the President of NACo, and she wrote me back. She’d never even seen the photo Mr. Coco had published and attributed to her organization until I sent it to her. It’s no secret that President Obama, like John Boehner, was a smoker. The story was that an elected official claimed that the National Association of Counties had verified the authenticity of a doctored photograph of the President of the United States and then distributed it to its members; Mr. Coco, then an elected official, was unwittingly calling into question the integrity and the credibility of a venerable public service organization. And he was absolutely wrong. It was amateurish.
Mr. Coco, as a Police Juror, also fought, at least initially, to ensure that federal disaster relief funds distributed to Rapides Parish in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav would disproportionately benefit the least-affected areas, and as far as I can gather, his position at the time had nothing to do with policy and everything to do with his disdain for Mayor Jacques Roy, who was fighting to ensure an equitable dispersement of funds. Again, Mr. Coco was absolutely wrong, and again, it was amateurish.
And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention how Steve Coco once publicly called on me to be fired for having the audacity to truthfully report that he, as a public official, had been receiving gratuitous radio time and advertisements. I suggested that he was an “unpaid employee” of the radio station with which he was associated, and Mr. Coco shot back, challenging me to offer proof. It was easy enough: I simply had to direct Mr. Coco to his own campaign finance disclosure forms.
I’ve called him out in the past, and I’m more than happy to continue calling him out: Mr. Coco is not fit to serve on the Alexandria City Council. He is a self-aggrandizing hack, an insult to anyone who believes in journalistic integrity, and a man who has repeatedly and publicly lied about basic facts. And I know I sound harsh, but here’s why: Yesterday, only a few days after he qualified to run for Alexandria City Council, Steve Coco took to his website and suggested that there were widespread rumors that my friend and former boss, Mayor Jacques Roy, is “distracted by some serious personal problems.”
Pardon my French, but Steve Coco: You are full of shit. I’ve always known you’re full of shit, but this really takes the cake: Floating the rumor that Jacques Roy has “serious personal problems” in order to brandish your own candidacy for City Council. It’s shameful, despicable even.
Unlike Steve Coco, I actually know Jacques. He’s family to me. Even though I’ve been in Dallas for over a year, we still talk at least once a week. I went on vacation with him and his family a couple of months ago, something I’ve done every year for the last five years. You, Mr. Coco, don’t know what you’re talking about, and publicly accusing someone of suffering from “serious personal problems” is a mighty strong accusation. It’s high-time that someone finally disputes the bullshit rumors that you and Greg Aymond have attempted to float throughout the last few years and to call you out for what you really are: Just like Mr. Aymond, you are a divisive, mean-spirited liar, a sophomoric and sloppy writer, and an intellectual lightweight.
And in November, we’ll remember, once again, that Steve Coco is also something else: A loser.