September 8, 2007

Lombardi & WLVL

An interesting situation has arisen over the past day or two that is a segue from the conversation about ethics in politics. This time, however, the accusation of impropriety did not come from a political figure, it came from a nameless, faceless accuser. In fact, the accusation came on WLVL's Dialog hosted by Scott Leffler.

Apparently, and for the record I did not hear the live broadcast but did catch the podcast, during a show in which Lockport 4th Ward Alderman Pat Schrader was being taken to task for his role in the accident that sent a nine year-old girl to the hospital, someone called the show to enlighten the audience with a story about 5th Ward Alderman John Lombardi.

I won't get into the very ugly details of what occurred, but the caller made some extremely disturbing comments about Lombardi. These comments were so harsh that they potentially could impact Lombardi, his family, his business as well as another individual who was named by the cowardly caller.

The concern is that where does the right to privacy end for an elected official? More importantly, what constitutes criticism of an elected official, and what crosses that line? When Bill Leardini stood at the podium and called the Niagara County Legislature "corrupt", I was told by an attorney that the statement absolutely constitutes slander. But as an elected official, what do you do, sue him? Then you're thin-skinned.

In this situation with Lombardi, who's responsible? It's my understanding that in legal terms, once a media outlet broadcasts such a slanderous allegation as the one on WLVL, that media outlet is responsible.

In other words, if candidate X writes a letter to the editor saying that candidate Y is a pedophile, the paper is not off the hook simply because candidate X signed his name to the letter. The paper has a legal responsibility to not print unfounded, slanderous, libelous statements.

So where does that leave WLVL? The questions of their responsibility are already flying. Are they negligent for not having a delay, as most radio stations do? Should Leffler have disconnected the call the moment he realized where the caller was going, instead of allowing the caller to embellish the story even further?

Whatever the outcome, I wish Lombardi and his family the best. No one deserves this type of disgraceful accusation. Not even an elected official.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are people in every community that think that it is acceptable to slander those individuals who are elected.Do these same people have the cajones to run for office themselves, nope.

And people wonder why many qualified individuals don't want to run for elected office. Why would anyone want their name dragged through the mud for less than 10 grand a year

Anonymous said...

$10k a year? Scott allows his callers to do the same to people who serve on a volunteer basis, and joins in himself. It is his character which should be questioned.

Fat Tony said...

I thought Scott handled it pretty well, but I'm shocked that WLVL doesn't have a dump button to cover their own behinds.

cg466 said...

Anonymous.Talk about balls? I think most people see what a sewer politics are and dont want to soil themselves. Now me? I was brought up in a family that belived it was wrong to steal from your neighbors. You live by the sword you die by the sword. No tears shed on my end.

Anonymous said...

CJ- huh?

Are there any more colloquialisms you'd like to toss out instead of making a semblance of a coherent argument?