Commissioner Wilson Robertson Blasts Media, PNJ At His Swearing In
November 21, 2012
After being sworn in for a second consecutive term Tuesday, Escambia County District 1 Commissioner Wilson Robertson launched a 10 minute attack on the media as the county’s “worst enemy”, in particular targeting the Pensacola News Journal.
“I am going to have my last say, because this is my last time to be sworn it,” Robertson said.
He started by thanking God, his wife and family, numerous supporters and the State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Ethics Commission for his re-election.
Robertson was the subject of several stories in the Pensacola News Journal about his alleged actions behind the scene that would lead to his longtime friend Forrest Gibbs being named director of the Escambia County Equestrian Center. Subsequent investigations by the State Attorney’s Office and Florida Ethics Commission found no wrongdoing.
“By the way, if you did not know that, there was a little bitty script in the back of the paper that said that, but there were eight front page headlines…about the crimes I had committed.” One of those headlines, he said, was above the PNJ’s headline about the capture of Muammar Gaddafi. “I did not know I was worse than a terrorist.”
“I do know why the News Journal did not like me for one thing,” he said. “I was a strong, strong opponent with having this county one city like Jacksonville. I’ll guarantee you one thing…the county of Escambia is in 10 times better financial condition than the City of Pensacola. And if you’d paid the extra 4.9 mils out in the unincorporated areas if that had passed, you wouldn’t be very happy.”
He then turned his attention back to the Pensacola News Journal, saying he attended a luncheon with a “woman from corporate” from Gannett, the parent company of the newspaper. He said she asked, “how are we going to survive, the print media today, versus the Internet?”
“You know what they decided? This lady was willing to share it at this meeting…she probably did not know who Wilson Robertson was,” the commissioner said. “The only way we are going to continue to sell papers is to go after local elected officials and public leaders and bring out everything we can about them because the public loves to read that.”
“Folks, I don’t mind you printing news, but don’t go out and create the news,” he said.
He said a PNJ reporter told him, “It doesn’t have to be the truth if we are quoting someone…we don’t care if it’s the truth.”
Robertson said the PNJ tried to destroy the Touart family (George Touart will be the interim county administrator as of December 1.). He also accused the PNJ of destroying the Gibbs family, “an honorable family”, and Sheriff David Morgan, who “refuses to give the News Journal an interview”.
Robertson did offer compliments to Nate Monroe, the current PNJ government reporter, and then blasted Jamie Page, who is no longer employed the PNJ.
“I want to hit the Independent News,” he said near the conclusion of his remarks, accusing the Independent News of targeting School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas.
In a published story on the newspaper’s website Tuesday, Pensacola News Journal Managing Editor Ginny Graybiel said Robertson’s claims were “ludicrous”. She said Robertson’s comments about the corporate Gannett executive were “not true”.
“Commissioner Robertson wove today a conspiracy to create a boogie man–the Pensacola News Journal–to explain his problems with the public,” Independent News Publisher Rick Outzen said in a story published on his blog Tuesday night, adding that Robertson’s claims of a PNJ vendetta against him over consolidation were “ridiculous”.
“As for our paper, Malcolm Thomas and me, we don’t deal in political careers -could care less about them. We review, investigate, analyze and criticize our job performances of local elected officials,” Outzen wrote.
Robertson did not specifically mention NorthEscambia.com or any other prominent local media such was WEAR 3 or News Radio 1620 in any of his comments.
Pictured top: Escambia County District 1 Commissioner Wilson Robertson is sworn in Tuesday morning. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.