From the archives, the contestant on this week's episode is Jackie Aivaliotis from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At first I thought I didn't have a clue, particularly since it's a style of music that is generally a totally toss-up for me. And the song was well-hidden. Then I thought I might have the hidden song. And then...I didn't, and didn't have a clue. But then I was certain that I did know the hidden song -- and was right. And was even correct on my guess of the composer style. So...going from "not a clue" to getting both -- huzzah!
The contestant in this "Mystery Guest" segment is Richard Boone, who was in the midst of starring in Have Gun, Will Travel, which is one of my two favorite Western series, in fact I still watch reruns periodically on the Heroes & Icons Channel, and it still holds up well. Indeed, he even shows up here in – in costume.
There's a good amount of conversation after the game than most, where they talk about the Broadway theater (where he had a strong career before his fame on television.) The play they’re discussing is The Rivalry about Lincoln and Douglass. There’s also a funny moment as he walks off, but I suspect most people today might miss the joke, but -- without giving it away -- it’s an action that the character of ‘Paladin’ does regularly in the show. Boone seems to forget to do it at first, but stops and remembers. If you only want to watch the Mystery Guest, it comes in at the 17:40 mark.
No, this is not a joke about Marjorie Taylor Greene (and later, Fox “News”) misspelling “martial.” This is about something else entirely – and the spelling here is actually proper.
There is a story here in Los Angeles that you might be aware of, at least in part -- Rachel Maddow has covered it a couple of times the past week. It’s about a reported cover-up in the Sheriff’s office about brutality towards a prisoner and when the Sheriff was aware of the incident and saw the video of it.
At the heart of the story is that the other day, Sheriff Alex Villenueva held a press conference refuting it all, announcing an investigation into the leak and then putting up blown-up photos of three people at the center of the investigation…one of whom was Los Angeles Times reporter Alene Tchekmediyan. “The three individuals that we want to know a lot about,” Sheriff Villanueva said. “These three people have some important questions to answer.”
Though Ms. Tchekmediyan herself was at the press conference, the Sheriff refused to call on her. When another reporter asked if all this meant that Ms. Tchekmediyan was under investigation, Sheriff Villanueva replied, “All parties to the act are subjects of the investigation.”
There’s another point about all this other than what has garnered almost all the attention, which I’ll get to in a moment. But it’s important to know how fierce the pushback against the Sheriff has been.
Indeed, the pushback and harsh criticism has been so strong that Villanueva has backed off his threat to investigate reporter Tchekmedyian. He’s even gone so far as to deny that he ever even said she’d be investigated – despite it being on video for all to see that he said what he was reported accurately as saying. With a big photo on poster board of Ms. Tchekmedyian as a visual aid.
The L.A. Times has been particularly pointed, as one would expect, with the executive editors of the paper Kevin Merida releasing a statement, which said in part, “His attempt to criminalize news reporting goes against well-established constitutional law. We will vigorously defend Tchekmedyian’s and the Los Angeles Times’ rights in any proceeding or investigation brought by authorities.”
It helps knowing, too, that Sheriff Villanueva has had a confrontational relationship with the Los Angeles City Council, almost since he was elected a little over three years ago. So, anyone thinking that his actions are supported by the city official would be mistaken. So, I liked reading that Supervisor Hilda Solis pledged to ask California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta to “investigate his pattern of unconscionable and dangerous actions like the one today.” She added, “Sadly, Sheriff Villanueva has a habit of attacking, maligning, and threatening those who oversee or report on his misconduct.”
And that’s the other point that has fallen through some of the cracks.
The attack on a news reporter is deserved headline news. But equally important to the story is who the other two people are that Sheriff Villanueva says he wants to investigate.
That’s because the other two people the Sheriff wants to investigate are Sheriff Department Commander Eli Vera – who is running against Villanueva for Sheriff this coming November -- and Sheriff’s Inspector General Max Huntsman…who is investigating the issue.
So, yes, Sheriff Alex Villanueva wants to investigate the reporter who is writing the story about the claim of abuse and cover-up, the political rival who is running against him, and the sheriff department official who is investigating the charge of abuse and cover-up.
As big as the story is of a sheriff trying to investigate a news reporter for covering a story, and that’s very big, I think the larger story is that the sheriff is trying to investigate the three people at the heart of investigation him.
By the way, it’s even worse. That’s because the reason Eli Vera is a Commander – is because he had been a Chief, but Alex Villanueva demoted him last September. And was transferred to a lower assignment. Further, he no longer can attend weekly executive meetings with Villanueva and other senior staff. Villanueva has said that because regulations are clear that “those who serve as confidential advisors to an elected leader, cannot oppose him/her politically and keep their post.” Though it seems pretty clear that there are other ways to have dealt with the situation. Not shockingly, Vera agrees, saying “What the sheriff did today is not only wrong, but it goes against every procedure and rule laid out in our department and across the county,” adding that “Alex decided to do something unprecedented for what are clear political reasons. This is unfortunate.”
There’s a good update on the story – which is ongoing. And that’s that not only is the Los Angeles Times still pursuing it…Alene Tchekmedyian is still assigned to report on it. And she had a major update just yesterday. That’s when she wrote that there is a first-hand witness who filed a legal claim that she herself brought a video of the physical abuse to Sheriff Villanueva and they watched it together – only five days after it occurred, not many months as Villuenueva has insisted. Further, this eyewitness was one of the Sheriff’s top advisers.
As Ms. Tchekmedyian reports –
A former top-ranking Los Angeles County sheriff’s official filed a legal claim Thursday that offered the first eyewitness account of Sheriff Alex Villanueva allegedly lying about his involvement in a cover-up and also made allegations about retaliation and other improprieties in the Sheriff’s Department.
And yes, you read that right. When the cover-up was reported, Sheriff Villanueva demanded that the witness to his cover-up – an assistant sheriff – either retire or be demoted four ranks.
It’s not just that Sheriff Alex Villanueva wanted to investigate a news reporter (and then denied that he said what he said on camera), which is horrible enough, but also wants to investigate the man running against him – who he demoted – and wants to investigate the official in charge of investigating him. And…and forced the eyewitness to his alleged cover-up to resign or be demoted four ranks.
I understand why the news is mainly covering this story over an attack on the press and the First Amendment. I hope they expand it bigger than even that, though, because…well, it’s bigger than even that.
And following on the heels of my posting yesterday, here is the other of what are probably my two favorite Nichols & May sketches. This one here was performed on the highly-regarded Sunday daytime show Omnibus that was hosted by Alistair Cooke. It's about a fellow in desperate need of help from a payphone operator -- a concept which today might not be familiar to everyone in the audience...
It is my hope that if writers on Saturday Night Live didn't see the opening of The Rachel Maddow Show last night, they seriously consider getting a recording. They could use the verbatim transcript of Trump's deposition -- talking about the threat faced by a tomato and other fruit being thrown -- as a comedy sketch with no changes, just as they did with Sarah Palin in 2007.
And no, I’m not exaggerating. In fact, I left out 99% of how weird and laugh-out-loud funny it gets. And then builds from there.
And that doesn’t even take into consideration that within the deposition, he’s providing sworn testimony supporting charges against him in another investigation against him, about illegal, fraudulent compensation of employees.
I sent SNL a tweet with the suggestion. For all I know, someone was watching and already had the idea. Whether they do such a sketch is another matter. But – honestly – it would likely be one of the funniest sketches on the show that night. Probably the funniest. Without changing a word. The deposition was hilarious, other than the realization that he'd been in charge of the country for four years and had the nuclear codes.
But don’t take my word for it. Let’s go to the tape.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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