By Richard E. Vatz
There are a few characteristics necessary to doing any job well, but one might say in particular, for politically administering a city, intelligence, judgment and intellectual honesty are critical.
The city of Baltimore has been bereft in its leadership for years and years, lacking judgment or judgment-and-honesty since Kurt Schmoke sported all three qualities in 1999. Since the departure of Carl Stokes and Mary Pat Clarke, there is little to no evidence of judgment or integrity in the City Council or the States Attorney’s Office since Gregg Bernstein.
But this article is specifically about Baltimore’s low point: the utterly unethical, self-serving, judgment-absent Mosbys, Marilyn and Nick. They not only lack all of the requisite qualities above, save intelligence, but compound their recklessness with attacks on First Amendment rights of media critical of them through name-calling, blame-shifting and finger-pointing.
Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore City state’s attorney, its top prosecutor, yet under federal criminal investigation, roasted by an inspector general’s report and the subject — along with her husband, Nick Mosby, president of Baltimore City Council — of Internal Revenue Service liens on their home, has, through her office’s communications director, accused Fox45 News for, among other things, “dishonest,” “racist” and “dangerous” reportage, and has formally requested that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigate the charges and presumably sanction the station.
The letter argues that the award-winning station WBFF’s coverage of the Mosbys is greater in quantity than any other news source and that Fox45 is “slanted,” misleading,” “followed by a conspiracy theory,” and inclusive of biased commentary that is unfair and omits facts. The complaint specifically objects to the broadcast of the Mosby’s home address, which, if true, is the tiny kernel of validity in the entirety of their allegations and criticism of the broadcasting station.
All news stations engage in a rhetoric reflective of their Constitutional rights: choice of agenda, spin and interpretation.
The charge of “racism” is de rigueur in complaints against all sources at the center or right, and, of course, no evidence is provided.
Intended to intimidate
The investigation request has only one purpose and possible negative outcome for Fox45, and that is that they will be intimidated and cover the Mosbys less: their tendentious and controversial leadership, their years of IRS liens, their receipt of gifts, their refusals to make public records available, their alleged travel irregularities, Marilyn’s refusal to prosecute some serious crimes such as trespassing, her dropping or losing two-fifths of her felony cases and failure to prosecute and imprison or imprison lengthily felons. Then there is Nick’s loutish treatment of the press, harshly shutting a car door within inches of a reporter’s trying to ask him a question respectfully and others.
Currently, the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine has been abrogated and Equal Time expectations are no more than referenced innocuously. Thus there is – or should be – no action by the FCC against Fox45 over the Mosbys. The FCC is not legally empowered to prevent the broadcast of points of view it does not like nor can it censor or interfere with broadcasting choices unless they are profane or provably intentionally false.
Support for Fox45 in a good and responsible media environment would come from its radio and television competitors and the media critic of The Baltimore Sun, just as some liberals have defended their conservative counterparts from cancel culture in other venues. In my field we call that “reluctant testimony,” and admittedly there is too little of it in Maryland.
It takes honesty and guts to not be intimidated and to support those with whom you politically disagree.
I am betting Fox45 will not be intimidated, and a few honest media representatives will oppose the goonish anti-First Amendment behavior revealed in the FCC complaint and the Mosby effort to control the news about them.
We shall see in the next few weeks.