OPINION: News or nonsense? Hard to tell nowadays. Just ask Brian Kemp

Gov. Brian Kemp adjusts his mask as he greets President Donald Trump at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta on July 15, 2020. (photo credit: Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Gov. Brian Kemp recently took The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to task for our coverage of the state’s handling of the pandemic.

“Georgia is making progress in the fight against COVID-19, but you wouldn’t know it from reading the state’s flagship newspaper,” he (or someone on his staff) wrote in an op-ed published Sunday. “During this crisis, the AJC has turned into a tabloid rag — appealing to supermarket shoppers waiting in line, 6 feet from their neighbor.”

Kemp said the seven-day average of cases has dropped, as have positivity rates and hospitalizations.

What really cheesed our Guv, who is Trumpian in his dislike of the press, was an article last week headlined, “White House says Georgia now leads nation in rate of new virus cases.”

The story written by reporters Scott Trubey and Greg Bluestein said, “Georgia reported the highest rate of new cases of the coronavirus in the country in the seven days ending on Friday, President Trump’s coronavirus task force said in its latest report, urging the state again to take stronger action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” (A new report released Tuesday now says we’re second worst in infection rate.)

Now, I suppose the Guv is sensitive about anything negative coming from the White House, as he is still smarting from when the president suddenly turned against his fawning follower in April and publicly spanked him over reopening the state too soon.

Beating up on the Atlanta press has been a longtime tactic of Georgia pols, since way back when Depression-era governor Eugene Talmadge railed at “them lying Atlanta newspapers.” Later, segregationist, pickaxe-handling governor Lester Maddox so disliked the muckrakers that his official portrait at the state Capitol has him frozen in eternity with a fish wrapped in an Atlanta Constitution on a table behind him.

So, Gov. Shotgun is in good stead with Gov. Pickaxe when it comes to news attacks. But as for Kemp’s admonishment that the AJC has become a “tabloid rag,” well, I submit that the actual news today is, indeed, tabloid fodder. I’m talking Weekly World News, Bat-Child-Found-In-Cave kooky.

These days "real news" is mimicking tabloid news.

Credit: Weekly World News

Credit: Weekly World News

In recent days and months we’ve seen signs that the apocalypse is closing in on us.

CONSIDER: Republicans, even the ones in Dunwoody who especially loathed Vernon Jones, have now accepted him as their newest buddy. Jones, the former CEO of DeKalb County and now a lame-duck Democratic state rep, was the first African American to lead the county. He was a uniter, in that his antics have brought together people from all hues, religions and political proclivities in their dislike of him. In fact, he’s “credited” with spurring the whiter, more conservative chunk of northern DeKalb, where residents hated him so badly that they formed a city.

Since vacating the CEO gig, Jones has continually tried to secure a better job — U.S. Senate, Congress, county sheriff — but has been turned away decisively by Democratic voters, most of whom in his home county are Black and know him well. This year, he was set to get either trounced in his re-election bid or removed from the ballot for not living in his district. Then he envisioned a lifeline: He’d fashion himself as a prized and scarce asset — a Black Democratic supporter of Trump. Next thing you know, Vern’s squinting at the teleprompter on the TV convention helping to Make America Great Again.

CONSIDER: QAnon is (likely) heading to Congress. In recent years, voters have wanted someone, um, outside the norm to lead them in politics. Hello, Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican candidate for Congress in northwest Georgia. Greene is a newbie in the political field but realized early on that crazy sells, so she built an online following by blabbing nonsense about QAnon, which is the online conspiratorial community that feeds on theories about Satanic child sex rings, Deep State plots, George Soros and the Clintons.

A couple of years back, Greene put a camera in her own face and went all crackpot saying the mysterious “Q” has “talked about an interesting triangle — Saudi Arabia, the Rothschilds and (George) Soros are the puppet masters who fund this global evil. OK, so, I would definitely believe that.” So, does definitely believing something like that get her laughed out of the box? Nah. Voters heard it and said, “That is congressional timber.”

CONSIDER: A Wendy’s is the site of a tragic incident in which a man named Rayshard Brooks gets into a fight with cops trying to arrest him, and then gets shot and killed while running away. The next night, an angry crowd burns down the place, and then it becomes sort of a shrine that draws groups of gun-toting youths and young men who for some reason feel they must guard the burned-out husk of a fast-food joint and also stop traffic and refuse to allow white motorists through.

Now, the gun-cradling has been a long-beloved tenet of the right, so it is natural that the other side wants to embrace it too. However, once actual shooting and wounding started there, the city of Atlanta played passive and let this lunacy continue. Next thing you know an 8-year-old child is dead, shot to death at the scene. Finger-pointing ensued.

CONSIDER: State Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, last week had his House chairmanship stripped for saying that the late, legendary U.S. Rep. John Lewis “milked” a career because “his only claim to fame was that he got conked on the head at the (Edmund) Pettus Bridge.” Benton seems to be a slow learner. In 2017, his chairmanship was yanked after he passed around an article at the Georgia Capitol saying slavery was not a root cause of the Civil War.

A year earlier, he was widely condemned for claiming the Ku Klux Klan “was not so much a racist thing, but a vigilante thing to keep law and order,” adding. “It made a lot of people straighten up.” My guess is that we will be writing about his chairmanship getting yanked again in 2022 after he mutters some other pearl of wisdom.

AND LASTLY, CONSIDER: An asteroid is supposed to pass near the Earth the day before the presidential election. It’s not supposed to impact the lunacy.

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