The independent media in east central Georgia fully expected the Augusta Chronicle to launch a crusade against 12th District Congressman John Barrow, the leviathan-besting survivor of six previous bouts with Billy Morris’ crumbling media empire, and we were not disappointed. The salvo began with an opinion piece on September 15 and letters to the editor blasting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DNCC)’s ads on behalf of Barrow, which targeted Rick Allen’s government contracts. Allen, the Republican Party nominee opposing Barrow, quickly and adeptly incorporated the newspaper’s attack on Barrow into his own campaign ads. The crusade had begun.
The Chronicle and Allen actually were justified in ridiculing the DNCC ads, because it was RW Allen, LLC, who held those contracts, not Rick Allen, who has had a declining participation in his firm in recent years, while retaining the title of President of the Firm. Also, as Allen, the Republican campaign apparatus, local talk radio, and the Chronicle pointed out, most of those contracts were competitively bid on a hard price basis and the “cost overruns” were indeed minimal.
The DNCC baited a trap. The Allen apparatchiks, especially Morris Communications, stepped into it. John Barrow, a Harvard Law graduate, probably wasn’t an unwitting beneficiary. If he was, he won’t be much longer, for the denunciations and denials of the DNCC charges by Allen and the Chronicle will only focus attention on the scandal-plagued TEE Center project, now termed the Augusta Convention Center, where RW Allen was the construction manager and a Chronicle affiliate was the chief beneficiary. It wasn’t hard bid, but was one of those loosey-goosey “guaranteed maximum price” deals and Augusta was billed the maximum price.
Before the contract trap was even sprung by the Barrow team, the Chronicle-Allen media express derailed less than 10 days of leaving the station. Its crusade suddenly was rerouted into a jihad against Islamic US citizens of Augusta.
The Islamic Society of Augusta had gotten acceptance of an invitation to debate from both Allen and Barrow for a debate to be held at the Islamic Center in Evans on September 27. Steve Crawford, editor of the Columbia County News-Times, a Morris publication, had agreed to be the moderator. Both candidates agreed to the Islamic Society hosting the event, Crawford’s moderation, and the place.
With no warning, Morris management took its newly-found jihadi knife and backstabbed host and moderator by forbidding Crawford from moderating. The event was put into danger of cancellation. Barrow appeared at the side of the Islamic Society’s Dr. Hossam Fadel and denounced the Morris action. Rick Allen was silent, with the only response being the Allen campaign’s celebration of the “gotcha” moment of capturing Barrow in the company of a Muslim “cleric,” as they put it.
The debate was “saved” by moving it to the less-than-200-person capacity of the Columbia County Commission Chamber, from the 800-person-capacity Islamic Center. By several accounts, hundreds were turned away who arrived on time. The Chronicle’s jihadi knife got them, too.
Before the debate began, Columbia County Republican Party Chairman Dewey Galeas added fuel to outrage at Republican party tactics by refusing to take Dr. Fadel’s offered hand for a handshake. Such ugliness is sure to be linked to other recent incidents by the state and county Republican parties.
Inside there were discussions of these events and a question was asked about the threat of Islamophobia to the constitutional rights of US citizens that are supposed to exist despite race, creed, national origin, religion or political belief. Here is the video of those remarks.
The Insider at the Metro Spirit concluded:
When (talk radio show host Austin) Rhodes pressed Atkins to explain which candidate was uncomfortable with the Islamic Community Center as the venue, Atkins was honest.
“It was the Rick Allen campaign headquarters,” Atkins told Rhodes.
Someone in the Morris-Allen alliance decided that the images of knife-wielding terrorists beheading folks in Iraq would be a nice thing to pin on John Barrow, turning the law abiding, honorable citizens in the Islamic Society into victims of a back-stabbing. Newsprint won’t stanch the bleeding, and electronic publication won’t heal the wound.
The Chronicle‘s express might or might not get derailed at a guaranteed maximum price to its owners, but November 4 is Judgment Day, when the voters decide whose political future is decapitated and whether it will be with his own knife.