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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Gadfly Triumphant!

“Mr. Ferson asked if I were a Journalist. I told him that depended on your point of view, and explained who I was, and what I was doing. Ferson told me that he would be happy to speak with a REAL Journalist, but I didn’t fit that description. I told him I would be happy to speak with a real war hero, but Glenn Marshall didn’t fit that description.”

Peter Kenney, Show #550, The Great Gadfly

Porcupine has long thought that it’s a shame that Peter Kenney’s controversial television show, The Great Gadfly, doesn’t receive greater scope and distribution. To be sure, Mr. Kenney opines almost exclusively upon local matters, but his sardonic stylings and imaginative camera work place him at the very top of local affairs programming – now on the verge of extinction, if the telecommunications industry has anything to say about it. His work is so good that he was temporarily banned from the production studio, for reasons unrelated to obscenity. Think how muckraking he must be to have THAT occur in the feel-good world of public access programming!

Peter Kenney has long been a semi-professional gadfly. He is an easy person to meet and talk to, but a hard one to keep talking to, as almost invariably you will disagree with him about something, and are then cast into his mental oubliette of worthless persons. Still, there is no doubt that his mind, however opinionated, is a first class one, and his controversial program is always a treat – agree or disagree with him. Porcupine admits to sometimes feeling a little queasy when Mr. Kenney describes his thoughts so accurately that he could be doing a live remote from inside his prickly head, but Gadfly is a dead-on observer with a long memory.

It is his long memory which has started a major scandal, and has once again called into question the relationship between blogging and traditional mainstream media (MSM), for a blogger is what Mr. Kenney has become in addition to his television show. He writes for a virtual paper called Cape Cod Today, run by Walter Brooks, which also gave Porcupine his start in blogging. In some circles, Walter has a lot to answer for.

When the casino vote in Middleboro endorsed a contract with the newly recognized Wampanoag tribe, one of Gadfly’s leg hairs trembled. What WAS it about Glen Marshall that he remembered? Marshall referred to himself as having served as 'a Hero of Khe Sahn' during his VietNam service. Gadfly, with a little persistence, discovered that Marshall had reported a variety of dates of birth in different places (Gadfly strongly insinuates on his show that it is an attempt by Marshall to evade an accurate CORI check), but one date could not be disguised. Khe Sahn occurred only three months after Marshall graduated from Falmouth High – while he did serve in VietNam, he could not have taken part in that battle. Likewise, his claim to five Purple Hearts and a Silver Star is also fictitious. As Kenney said in this Friday's television show, the service he did provide in Viet Nam was distinguished enough; it is a shame that he sought to needlessly enhance it. It was during Gadfly’s attempts to verify the military service record that he had the above-quoted exchange with tribal spokesman Ferson of the Liberty Square Group. Mr. Ferson is doubtless wishing he had been less condescending, although it appears to be a habit. The Cape Cod Times reports that Mr. Ferson offered them an exclusive interview with Glenn Marshall if they would just hold back on their story about Marshall’s criminal conviction. The Times was unmoved by Mr. Ferson’s veiled threat that he would be talking with the Globe instead, and went ahead with the story.

But one again, Gadfly scooped the Times and the Globe. Part of the buzz surrounding the faux military background is that those stories were part of a biography, erroneously supplied by a Council member, and that Glenn never said those things himself. Except that he did – in his testimony before Congress, at the Tribal Recognition hearings. Gadfly was brandishing a transcript on Friday, more than the Times and Globe had by Friday night.

This brings us to Gadfly’s ultimate scoop – that Glenn Marshall is a rapist, convicted in 1981. What is awkward for the Cape Cod Times is that the entire story was in their own archives, but during their enhanced six part series on casino gambling, none of the ace cub reporters they employ had stumbled across it. It took a curmudgeon with a long memory to do that. As Gadfly pointed out on Friday, with his felony conviction, Marshall couldn’t get a liquor license in Gadfly’s home town of Yarmouth, but here was the state considering giving him oversight of a multi-million dollar business.

So the credibility two major newspapers and a multi-million dollar deal have been jeopardized because of the efforts of an ostensibly insignificant Blogger, making use of public records and intelligence. Why the MSM continues its disparagement of citizen journalists like Peter Kenney is incomprehensible, unless it is some blind trades-union loyalty to journalism school graduates. To Porcupine, this is the Dan Rather National Guard memo story all over again, writ smaller for a local stage. The only difference is that nobody’s head will roll at the newspapers – and the news will continue is obdurate stance of not mentioning where their information is actually coming from – the Triumphant Gadfly, Peter Kenney.

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