Is it still a primary goal of the local press discredit to African American men? We see the latest targeted attempt to take down another prominent black leader. Unfortunately, this is a familiar story. It fits neatly into the American narrative. And our local media know how to discredit a black man. Before the blood is cold on the street, previous arrests are reported. Next are interviews with people talking about how bad things are. Frankly it’s a stale tale.
But in NOLA, the local press seems happy to continue this sordid practice. Stories abound about Dr. Kyshun Webster. As if the past bad press needed to be justified, local media pushed a stale narrative about a bad black man. Black leadership in this city is scrutinized then criminalized by any means necessary.
But, the latest report from the inspector general should be the subject of the scrutiny. We have a sick dog and the office water cooler gossip as the primary findings. The report is anti-climactic with no real “gotcha” in the end. Dr. Webster is not going to jail. And no indictment is pending. This is like a house wives reality show. Rumor-based reports. Yet that didn’t stop it from being front page news and lead stories on TV and radio.
Taking Down a Black Man Nola Style
Alas, every news “report” disappointedly points out that no charges will be filed. So what is the point? How much did this report cost taxpayers? Is this the best we got for corruption rooting? Either New Orleans is now totally corruption free, or the IG is misguided and wasting our time and money. And what do we get from the local press? Character assassination. Really? Slow news day? Or just a chance to take a swing at a black man. You can just see the reporter and editor? “Oooh Ohhh he brought his dog to work. And the dog was sick! We can’t have this in our city. Gotcha Dr Webster!”
We also heard that Dr. Webster never went to work. These accounts of how much time Dr. Webster spent at work are reported based on the perception of staff who worked under him. In fact, in organizations of this size, everyone is not privy to the boss’s schedule. And the boss is not accountable to report his whereabouts to staff. But this office gossip is the “evidence” the OIG depended upon. Perhaps more important, Dr. Webster’s was a change agent. The Cantrell administration asked him to disrupt and turnaround a troubled facility. The proof is in the pudding. Our juveniles are not going to Angola. That was over in Jefferson Parish. In fact, Dr. Webster dramatically improved our juvenile jail.
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Part of the problem with local media’s get the black man bias is it misses or maybe just ignores black success. An independent report details incredible accomplishments by Dr. Webster and his team. Just look at the failed state-run juvenile jail in Jefferson Parish. Compare it to New Orleans. In New Orleans violence decreased significantly. And our children attend school regularly. Reform happened and happens because of Dr. Websters actions. Instead of accolades, we get a major investigation and media attacks about a sound proofing. Really?
“We had private conversations with judges, doctors, social workers and family about our children. We had a legal obligation to protect those conversations,” said Dr. Webster. Higher ups at city hall approved the need for and the cost of the soundproofing. The investigation found nothing illegal or unethical about the expenditure. You almost get the feeling that people just don’t want to invest any money in our wayward youth. But they are not only not incorrigible, they are worthy of our time and money.
Taking Down a Black Man Nola Style. Which is worse? A government agency that spent countless hours- your tax dollars- investigating a former employee only to issue silly report like this one? Or the lazy reporting that talks about sick dogs and disgruntled gossip? Dr. Webster deserved better. New Orleans deserves better from the OIG. And unbiased local reporting should be the standard.