Fully Loaded Censorship
If D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown or his handlers could pull the plug on this column, they probably would.
Why do I say that?
On Tuesday I was in my office watching Brown take questions at a press conference airing on Channel 13, the taxpayer funded propaganda network of the D.C. Council. When Mark Segraves of WTOP began to ask about ethics and a recent poll that showed Brown in a free fall, the broadcast ended without warning.
A few moments before the feed died, Brown’s deputy chief of staff, Karen Sibert, walked on camera and whispered something into the Chairman’s ear.
Earlier, Brown had said he would only take questions about the 2012 legislative agenda. Any other inquiries would be answered in his private office, without the cameras rolling.
After reporters complained, Brown agreed to take questions on camera.
He answered one before the signal went dark
According to a report by WAMU’s Patrick Madden, Brown and Sibert said they do not know why the broadcast was cut off mid-question.
Maybe so. Maybe not. Madden also reported that a spokesman for the D.C. Office of Cable Television said his people were following orders.
The press conference is archived online as "1/3/2012 LEGISLATIVE PRESS BRIEFING."
I reviewed the tape. Someone has edited the end of it. Segraves’ question about ethics and the poll is gone. I watched it on live television, but now the only evidence that the broadcast was cut has disappeared.
Who gave the order to alter the tape? Why is District government censoring a television broadcast paid for with tax dollars?
Kwame Brown’s challenges with ethics and judgment are well known. His “Fully Loaded” SUV fiasco drew plenty of unwanted attention.
Pulling the plug on a press conference may have seemed like a clever way to spare Brown further shame, but such was not the case. News of the broadcast debacle was posted to the Drudge Report. In 2011 the site was visited more than 10 billion times. Who knows how many people read this inglorious headline, “DC Council TV feed cut when ethics question comes up...,” or clicked the link for a more in-depth laugh at the District’s expense.
Brown likes to say he is “open and transparent.” Like a stuttering canary he has said it over and over again. In an interview last year on the Kojo Nnamdi Show, questions about ethics and Brown’s unwillingness to provide a financial report for his 2010/11 transition committee prompted the Chairman to use variations of the phrase nine times in ten minutes.
To date Brown has refused to fulfill my repeated requests to see the report. Why he subjects himself to a constant battering rather than simply hand over the document is a mystery.
Perhaps the answer is related to an investigation being conducted by the U.S. Attorney into Brown’s 2008 reelection campaign. The transition committee reportedly paid a company owned by Brown’s brother, Che Brown. The same company received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Brown’s 2008 campaign. An audit by the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance raised questions about how the money was spent. Has the U.S. Attorney’s investigation into Brown’s 2008 campaign spread? Are the Feds now looking into other political funds at Brown's disposal?
Only time will tell, because surely Kwame “Fully Loaded, Open and Transparent” Brown will not.