John Swallow Succumbed to the Constant Drum Beat of the Media and a Chorus of Angry Voices
By: Ozwald Balfour
Today marks the last day of John Swallow’s short tenure as Attorney General of the State of Utah. According to Mr. Swallow, the constant drum beat of the media coupled with his enemies in the Utah Legislature rendered him as a spotted chicken that was pecked to death by the rest of the yard fowls. It’s true, birds of a feather, flock together. In his resignation press conference, John Swallow told of his service as a member of the State Legislature from 1998 to 2002. It was this same body that investigated him along with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, Federal Justice Department and two local District Attorneys. Of course, some of the players today did not serve in the Utah House of Representatives with Mr. Swallow but many did. In politics, it’s very easy to make enemies.
Over the past ten months, many citizens have come to the conclusion that John Swallow’s most serious failing may have been getting caught. Politicians do not like members of their fraternity to bring disrepute to the fold. The Swallow fiasco raised questions about the entire body politic in Utah. Everybody was talking and the conversations were turning to the underlying problem in politics – Too Much Questionable Deals Resulting from Dirty Money. The public knows that Political Investors are not philanthropists. Access and Favors go to the highest bidders. John Swallow was overheard setting up deals in the reception line at the State Capital immediately following his inauguration last January. It’s reasonable to understand that preoccupation with his legal problems may have meant that he may not have had the time to deliver on all his promises to investors and access seekers.
The media’s ability to bring down a target should not be underestimated. The Bigger The Come, The Harder They Fall. Richard Nixon made history when he was forced to resign as President of the United States of America. The society entered the Post Watergate Era. Now, everyone is fair game- politicians, entertainers, business tycoons, athletes and sometimes, ordinary citizens – have been scorched, burned, fried and hung out to dry. Many once promising careers and business deals have been upended.
The 2002 Olympic Bid Committee experienced a collective meltdown for some of Utah’s most prominent civic, business and political leaders. Others were ready to capitalize on the fallout. Like an Olympic athlete, Mitt Romney slid into the Governor’s mansion in Massachusetts and had it not been for poor timing on his part, Mitt almost made a hop, skip and a jump into the White House. While the media may not take or deserve all the credit for the failed Romney Presidential Bids, it is apparent that at times the media was his primary opponent.
Who gives the media its POWER? Under the US Constitution, the government derives its power from the consent of the governed. The electronic media – radio and television stations and networks using the airways are granted licenses by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate in the interest of the public. The media often sites the ‘the people’s need to know’ when in pursuit of high profile stories. The advent of New Media – Blogs, Social Media, Citizen Journalists and a host of Online News sites have been a game changer when it comes to breaking news and keeping stories alive.
The collective voices applying pressure on Attorney General John Swallow to resign have won. Today, he announced on a radio show, “I will quietly go away.” The sad truth is, this is not the end, its only the beginning. Many others need to follow. Calls are already being made for the Salt Lake County District Attorney to be investigated for corruption in public office. The entire judicial system needs overhauling. There is a move afoot to fire all judges when they come up for re-election. In order to fix government, the plan has to be one branch at a time. Start with the Judicial Branch.
Ozwald Balfour is a Utah based Citizen Journalist. Balfour is the Editor-in-Chief of ViralPress – The Diverse News & Information Network, He earned a degree in International Communications – Media & International Politics from the University of Utah (1984) Balfour has produced Print, Radio and Television content for media organizations throughout the United States as well as abroad.