Chris Rose has produced a darling little piece for Fox 8 TV on Police Superintendent Warren Riley and Mayor Ray Nagin’s mysterious invocation of the “shadow government” during campaign-season radio appearances on WBOK talk radio.
He ‘fesses up to calling in to the show ask for the names of those who comprise the shadow government. That was a cool thing to do because when Riley and Nagin refused, it exposed them as total cowards who would rather use the phrase “shadow government” to frighten people than to actually explain how wealth and social connections influence municipal political decisions. (Nagin would have had to tell Rose and WBOK listeners, “Easy chum, just look at my 2002 campaign finance reports.”)
The problem is that Rose similarly chickened out on offering an actual explanation as to why people are so suspicious of the local decision-making process or why Nagin would use the line to broadside political enemies. Instead, he just says the shadow government is just totally “supernatural” fabrication, “crazy-making” that has been blindly accepted as fact.
And here’s the weird thing: They have repeated it so often – the Shadow Government controls this city, not them – that it has lost its shock value and we all just nod our heads as if it’s a given – as if they didn’t just say something completely whacked out – and I guess we’re so accustomed to weirdness on a grand scale around here that nobody steps back anymore, evaluates the situation at hand and responds: Say what?
With all due respect to my new quasi-colleague (The Lens has a joint reporting agreement with Fox8), there’s something wholly hypocritical about bemoaning the lack of perspective amid a rant in which he dismisses as loony tunes the New Orleanians who believe that wealthy and socially connected elites enjoy disproportionate political access.
It’s one think to call Nagin and Riley onto the carpet for cynically hiding behind the term “shadow government;” it’s another to offhandedly dismiss the corrupting influence of money and status as a delusion. I recently wrote a brief exploration into this very topic that I hope Rose will read.
He might think I’m nuts. We can be bunkmates at the Crazy House.