By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on October 2, 2015
Getting the Alabama Media to Look the Other Way
The Birmingham News (the “News”) is a media entity in the Alabama Media Group. The Mobile and Huntsville newspapers are also in this media group.
The News was a willing participant in the FBI's COINTELPRO program that was aimed at secretly spying on, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations. The News worked closely with the Alabama Sovereignty Commission and state and local officials who opposed racial integration in Alabama. In doing so, the News targeted individuals like Martin Luther King, Jr., Richard Arrington, Jr., and other civil rights leaders from the 1950s to the 1970s for an unrelenting campaign of negative news reporting in an attempt to undermine their credibility. COINTELPRO came to an official end after it was publicly exposed in the 1976 Congressional “Church Committee” hearings. Unofficial activities continued.
Today, the News plays a significant role in advancing and protecting the interests of unfit state officials. The latest case in point involves disgraced Governor Robert Bentley and his marital infidelity scandal. Bentley, who was recently divorced by his wife Dianne, used the News and other Alabama media organizations to spin this scandal in the light most favorable to him. Charles J. Dean, who covers the capitol for the News, wrote and published several favorable stories on the governor’s marital troubles. Leada Gore, who wrote soft stories about the scandal and Bentley’s paramour Rebekah Caldwell Mason, joined Dean in this thinly veiled PR campaign.
What the News never disclosed to the public was the fact that Dean’s name, email and home addresses, and amount of money paid were all listed on the leaked Ashley Madison database last August. Dean says the listing occurred because his credit card had been compromised, and he reported the $1,661 in “unauthorized” Ashley Madison “purchases” to the News. Ashley Madison is a business that facilitates marital infidelity. Interestingly, Gore wrote a story on August 24th discouraging the public from downloading the Ashley Madison leaked database. She did not mention that Dean’s name was on the list. Gore now claims she did not know Dean’s name was on the list. Dean followed with a September 23rd story about the Bentley scandal that said, “Don’t believe everything you read”.
Instead of breaking the Bentley cheating scandal wide open, the News opted to challenge the accuracy of three peripheral facts in our exclusive “Forbidden Love” and “Executive Betrayal” series of articles, using stories authored by the Dean/Gore team for this purpose. Without disclosing that Rebekah is a close friend of Dean, they wrote stories claiming: (a) Bentley’s lawyer and consigliere, David Byrne, had not resigned, even though another lawyer had been offered the job and turned it down; (b) Bentley had not moved from the Governor’s mansion to the Winton Blount Estate, even though the Blount home was only identified in our articles as a “love nest” for Bentley/Mason trysts; and (c) Mason was not working for the John Kasich presidential campaign, even though she delivered Bentley’s endorsement of Kasich in exchange for future work with the Ohio governor.
The Montgomery Advertiser, another COINTELPRO newspaper owned by a different media group, never engaged in any reporting of the infidelity scandal beyond one rambling story chastising the News for mentioning our Facebook-published articles.
The Divorce Settlement
The governor’s divorce settlement is telling. The lawsuit caught the governor off guard. Bentley raced to have the records sealed. He was scheduled to give testimony under oath in November. Instead, the governor filed an answer denying that his 50-year marriage was “irretrievably” broken and quickly settled the case before any evidence of his marital infidelity with Rebekah surfaced in court.
The settlement also showed that the governor is highly leveraged and cash-strapped. Yet, he was romancing Rebekah in grand style. How was this possible?
Romancing on Taxpayers and Donor Money
Taxpayers and donors have sponsored every aspect of the governor’s love affair with Rebekah. Bentley’s campaign organizations paid her in 2010 and again from July 2013 through November 2014. She was on the governor’s payroll from January 2011 to June 2013. In early 2015, Bentley pressured donors to contribute “dark money” to his Alabama Council for Excellent Government “slush” fund. The money was then funneled to Rebekah in structured transactions. The governor has also directed other income streams to Rebekah from businesses benefitting from the $20 million in Serve Alabama money that has been doled out by her husband Jonathan, who is the agency’s well-paid director.
Bentley routinely “wined and dined” Rebekah on taxpayers and donor money. Taxpayers and donors covered the airplane flights, trooper escorts, and international travel needed for Rebekah to properly service the governor’s desires.
The $28 million “love nest” at the secluded Winton Blount estate was closed to the public under the guise of ongoing “renovation” work so that the lovers could use it for their personal pleasure and private enjoyment, courtesy of taxpayers.
Finally, both the governor and Rebekah have hired top criminal lawyers who specialize in public corruption cases. Donor money is paying this tab as well.
There is no end in sight to Bentley’s fleecing of taxpayers and donors, and it’s all in the name of love.