By Peter Fallow, RCNN Special Contributor
Another week, another baffling, infuriating and piteous appearance by Mayor Bob Newell. On Monday, Newell was heard on the statewide radio program Talkline, hosted by Hoppy Kercheval. Ostensibly, Newell was on the show to defend himself from charges of wrongdoing, but he never did. Instead he attacked his accusers, made a tiny, very limp Bill Clinton joke, defended his admitted paramour, and played stupid about the contents of what is known as thumb drive #1.
(Before going any further, it must be said that hearing Newell refer to the “thumb drive” repeatedly is absolutely hilarious. He seems blissfully ignorant that it’s referred to that way as a tribute to his manhood, of which there is underwhelming proof on the drive itself. Happily, RCNN readers can listen for themselves on the Talkline website. A warning though: on radio Newell sounds like he has even more marbles in his mouth than in person.)
The first part of Newell’s time on the show was primarily an attack on his chief critic, RCNN publisher and writer Callie Lyons. Parroting the same drivel as his lawyer Harry Deeztler, Newell tried to make the case that Lyons is not an “actual journalist” and that RCNN is a “gossip rag.” RCNN fans (and Dietzler) already know that Lyons has won awards for her reporting from the AP and others. She wrote the definitive book on C8, published not by a vanity press but by a nationally recognized publishing house. And if the stories covered by RCNN are in fact tawdry, Newell has no one but himself to blame for that. This writer can definitively report that Lyons would prefer a world where she did not have to write about Newell, his malfeasance and his little thumb drive.
When Kercheval pointed out that Finance Director/Vice Mayor Ashley Flowers has already admitted to the affair and asked if Newell is denying that it happened, all Newell could manage to mumble out was that in the end people will see that the relationship has been “exaggerated.” What exactly in Clintonian Hell is that supposed to mean? Does it mean that the pair didn’t have sex all that often? Does it mean they used city money to pay for their trysts only a few times? Does it mean Flowers wasn’t Newell’s main mistress? Does it mean that Dietzler told him to say “exaggerated” because it’s a tacit admission of guilt while implying it’s Newell and Flowers that have been done wrong? Maybe the last one, but it seems a bit too subtle to have come from an ambulance chaser.
Newell also went to great lengths to deny knowing anything about the specific contents of thumb drive #1 while in the next breath speaking authoritatively about its contents. Naturally, any self-respecting male would deny that the pictures and video of alleged male anatomy are of themselves. But despite Newell’s claims to the contrary, the origin of every one of the 1,300 files on the drive can be forensically traced. It’s unbelievable that someone who likes to tout his law enforcement bona fides would be unaware of this.
It is also worth noting that on the Talkline program, Newell did not repeat the claims he made to city council that an “investigation” had resulted in confessions that some of the materials on the thumb drive had been altered or manufactured. Instead he chose to defend Flowers. In fact he is so eager to defend that particular mistress of his that he claimed “The thumb drive is the reason she’s having trouble with [custody of her children].” Somehow he forgot to mention her tendency to leave the kids in the car while she goes into the mall for a pedicure as the cause of her custody woes.
Disappointingly, Kercheval did not ask Newell about his and Flowers’ city-financed trip to see Fleetwood Mac. Nor did he press Newell on the Mayor’s claim that he wants a forensic audit, which he again repeated on Talkline. In a more perfect world, Kercheval would have pointed to Newell’s recent statements in the News and Sentinel that such an audit would be a waste of time and money, since all council has to do is ask him or Flowers for information about city finances and it would be supplied.
Lastly, Newell offered up this aphorism from lapdog Dietzler: “Like Harry said, if you admit it you’re a scoundrel and if you deny it you’re a liar.” Presumably Newell thought he was being pithy. Instead he sounded like what he is: a mush mouth two-bit politician who has used his office for personal gain.