Nearly two weeks ago, I did two interviews with farmers in Georgia who both made a serious accusation against Congressman Sanford Bishop related to the Pigford v. Glickman black farmers settlement — that when they brought up excessive lawyer fees and allegations of fraud, the congressman told them that an investigation of those issues might “shut down” the settlement.
Within a couple of days, Congressman Bishop responded to three different newspapers. His story was different each time.
- Rep. Bishop told the Albany Herald that he was aware of the fraud but it wasn’t his job to police it. This admission is significant because USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack has claimed that there was almost no fraud in Pigford.
- When speaking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Rep. Bishop was suddenly stunned and perplexed and suggested that the farmers had been drinking.
- Most recently, Rep. Bishop told the Columbus Ledger-Inquirer him that he remembered the meeting, repeated that he wasn’t responsible for monitoring fraud, suggested that there were antifraud provisions in the second Pigford bill and again insulted the farmers calling them disgruntled and irresponsible.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also focused a fair bit of energy on the implications are might be bias in my reporting because the videos were published on Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com site. This is especially frustrating me because I had talked to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Bob Keefe both before and after the story was published and told him in no uncertain terms that the videos were shot and the interviews conducted entirely by me. No mention was made of me in the AJC article, nor was it mentioned that I’m a liberal Democrat who writes for the left-leaning Huffington Post. I asked the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a clarification and so far none has been forthcoming.
So, I’m hitting back, new media style. Speak truth to power and all that.
In order to clear up some of the issues raised by Congressman Bishop and these newspapers, tonight I recorded a phone interview with Willie Head. It’s about 11 minutes long and is presented to you with absolutely no editing.