Right underneath the noses of the anemic The Palm Beach Post, WPTV-Channel 5, WPEC-Channel 12 and WPBF-Channel 25, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw‘s henchmen are going after the very freedoms that made billionaires out of media owners and millionaires out of local media managers.
And there’s not a damn thing they’re going to do about it.
As Gossip Extra reported exclusively today, the website pbsotalk.com and its operator, Mark Dougan, are now officially under criminal investigation. Dougan has been asked this week to meet with a detective to discuss his site – all as part of a criminal investigation that’s almost a year old and seems that have not real goal outside of shutting down pbsotalk.com.
So far, the probe has occupied several deputies from the cash-strapped agency, plus one assistant state attorney.
And yet, PBSO has nothing to show for the work, except for a suspended ex-Internal Affairs boss suspected of helping Dougan.
This probably wouldn’t be a big deal – unless you know what Dougan’s site is about.
Through public records, Dougan has documented millions of wasted taxpayers dollars at the sprawling, $500 million-agency. pbsotalk.com also allows anonymous posters to publish details of strife within PBSO, and has caricatured the administration.
Now, here is where it gets interesting: Bradshaw is up for a third term, and his political campaign tried to buy Dougan’s website last month. His campaign managers balked at the price tag, which started at $80,000.
Now that he couldn’t buy Dougan’s silence, will Bradshaw try to impose it by force?
Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know any of this if you limit yourself to mainstream news, things like Channel 5′s pathetic monthly Ask The Sheriff segments that air on Fox 29.
In not reporting and editorializing about the Dougan debacle, your favorite TV stations and still-shrinking Post have shown clear dereliction-of-duty.
Sure, Dougan is an acquired taste whose style isn’t always orthodox. A former deputy, he appears to have a mysterious axe to grind with Bradshaw. And there’s an argument on whether he runs a real news organization.
Pbsotalk.com is also an acquired taste, with its doctored photos that make Bradshaw and high-ranking members of the administration look silly.
Crazy people, unhappy campers, and even folks with no credibility outside of their own minds have the legal right to express themselves, dig out public records and publish opinion and satire without being harassed from two-bit public servants.
And that’s something The Palm Beach Post, WPTV-Channel 5, WPEC-Channel 12 and WPBF-Channel 25 seem to have forgotten as they ignore, and will probably continue to ignore, Bradshaw’s battle with pbsotalk.com.
To understand why they do, look no further than this Gossip Extra scoop about the body-to-body relationship between high-ranking Palm Beach Post honchos and ex-State Attorney Michael McAuliffe.
Mainstream has just as close a relationship with Bradshaw. Just ask Channel 5 news director Jeff Brogan, whose lunches Bradshaw paid for with his in-service credit card, Dougan’s reporting has shown.
And one reason for the coziness includes cold hard cash.
When a newsroom runs with half the reporters it used to – thanks to decisions made by bean counters thousands of miles away – that newsroom suddenly becomes dependent on brainless breaking news.
Notice an increase in reports of cats-in-trees, low-level shootings, unimportant car crashes, 5-gram drug arrests and other news no one really cares about?
There’s an increase because it’s dirt-cheap to have such news covered by just-graduated reporters who depend on news handouts put out by, yes, the likes of Ric Bradshaw!
So, while the Post just needs you to know that Billy Bob just shot his old friend Jimmy in the calf over a can of soda somewhere in a trailer park, Bradshaw will continue to nibble away at small websites that don’t fall in line.
Emboldened, he’ll then go after the bigger news organizations — the same that won’t stand up for Mark Dougan now.