Guest Host Ben Cunningham and Laura Baigert Discuss the Media’s Glorification of Protesters and the Need for Government Transparency


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed Kevin and Laura Baigert to the studio.

During the third hour, Cunningham and the Baigerts discussed the protesters at Legislative Plaza who broke their deal with the Tennessee Highway Patrol yet manage to be fawned over by media outlets. The Baigerts added that there is now a large class of people whose job is of political theater by provoking the police and manipulating the news media.

Cunningham: They tried to take over Legislative Plaza but they haven’t been successful yet. Bill Lee has been true to his word on that I think to some extent. But they are still down there I think, aren’t they?

Laura Baigert: They are still there. They had some of their materials confiscated yesterday after they broke a deal that they brokered with the THP.

Cunningham: What was the situation there? Can you elaborate on that?

Laura Baigert: It looks like a deal had been made between the Tennessee Highway Patrol and with the people who have been down there overnight. Which they really shouldn’t be doing. It’s a fine line of your First Amendment rights versus breaking the law. It looks like they brokered a deal and that Justin Jones and company broke part of that deal yesterday.

Cunningham: What a surprise.

Laura Baigert: So their stuff was seized. Of course, he tried to make them look bad even though they broke their part of the deal. It looks like they were quickly reinstated with donations from the community to get it right back where they were.

Cunningham: And the news media has just absolutely fawned reporting on that. They’re mainly professional provocateurs. All of these left-wing and certainly Antifa have tactics aimed at embarrassing the police or engaging the police or creating an incident.

They are there with their cell phones to document and send that directly to the news media. We just got a very large class of people now who they consider their main job is political theatre. Provoking the police. Manipulating the news media. And the news media is very happy to be manipulated in so many cases.

Laura Baigert: Yes.

Cunningham: It’s just crazy. When you look at the coverage of these protests where they have maybe a dozen people down there and you look at the coverage of Open Tennessee that Kim Edwards did there is no comparison.

Laura Baigert: No comparison.

Cunningham: They cover it live. They put it on Facebook. They put it on Youtube. It’s just crazy. They are not self-aware at all. It’s absurd.

Kevin Baigert: And something I don’t think people take into account is that those highway patrolmen are already short-staffed. They are working tons of tons of hours. We’ve come to know some of them personally. They are the best of our society. Are there some bad apples? Probably. I’ve never met them.

Those guys down there are having to work 16 hour days because of this stuff. They were already short-staffed. They’ve got families and they’ve got lives too. These idiots and I’ll call them idiots that are down there protesting, they don’t recognize what they are doing to those people’s lives. It’s just unfair. And I think that’s fundamentally where this is no longer a protest. This is just making a political statement.

Cunnigham: And with so many people on the Left it’s an exercise of self-glorification. They are basically saying we are superior to you morally and anything we do is just fine. The ends justify the means. Unfortunately, that kind of radical mindset is what we’re getting from the Left on all these issues. They are tearing down all the statues. They’ve gotten to the point that they really don’t care about discriminating against statues that may or may not be included in their narrative. They are going to tear them all down!

Kevin Baigert: And talking about those professional provocateurs, we know for a fact that some of them get paid more money when they get arrested. So one of their goals is to get arrested. They are going to make more money. They are going to get more news.

Laura Baigert: To the previous caller’s point, Chase Matheson who has this rally coming up on Sunday to Back the Badge, this isn’t just the breakdown of police. This is a breakdown of law and order all across the board. And we’ve had it for along time.

If you look at what’s happened in the federal government they used their full force of power to try and unseat our President. It is very divided on how people see this. Either they see it not as an issue at all or it’s just ok that they do this kind of thing. Or they are outraged. And I don’t know how we don’t have more people convinced that this is wrong.

All of this stuff kind of ties together as egregious as the budget that Nashville just passed is with a 34 percent property tax increase and the hardship that it puts on the people that own property here, they didn’t cut the police out of the budget. They increased funding for police even though there was a big call to defund the police.

And quite honestly some things should be looked at. Did they need two helicopters? What are they doing with them? So we had these riots here at the end of May in Nashville. They didn’t use any of that equipment. I think those conversations should be had. Some of the messages are crazy that we should just dismiss the whole idea of some of these things.

Cunningham: My experience in dozens of county commission meetings where property taxes were defeated and of course (Chuckles) they tell you that the world is going to come to an end but it never does. And what actually happens when you force them to cut the budget is they look at their priorities and that’s the only time they look at their priorities. They say this is more important than this.

Otherwise, all the agencies form a kind of a cabal and nobody is willing to say we are more important than this. No one is willing to say basic services, fire the police. That’s the most important thing let’s fund that first. Setting the priorities that we do with our family budgets every day you’ll never see that happen in government until you cut spending. Then they will make those hard decisions because they are forced to make those hard decisions.

You are right. We can’t give ground as conservatives in terms of emphasizing small government and decreasing government. As the government gets bigger and these different factions take over the government, democracy becomes more fragile. And we see that with the vote on the property tax locally. They didn’t listen. You know if they had put that property tax to a vote it would have been overwhelmingly defeated.

Laura Baigert: Right.

Cunningham: It would have been absolutely decimated. The transit tax increase that we had two years ago was put on the ballot. Defeated.

Laura Baigert: Overwhelmingly.

Cunningham: By a two to one margin.

Laura Baigert: And that was something that you could argue there was a tangible benefit. They said you’re going to get this for that. What are you seeing with this budget? Nobody has heard what they’re going to get for this 34 percent property tax increase?

Cunningham: Next year they’ll be back and saying that wasn’t enough and we need more. We need more next time.

Kevin Baigert: That’s right. They’re going to continue to grow government and bureaucracy and the citizens are going to bear the brunt.

Laura Baigert: We should make a plug for another effort which is and that’s a petition to have a referendum to limit property tax increases to two percent per year unless the people vote on it.

Cunningham: A great thing. Again it’s a charter petition for Nashville. That’s one thing we do have in Nashville where you can since its a home rule form of government you can change the charter without going to the state legislature through the petition process. What are some of the other things that are on that petition?

Laura Baigert: Another thing was to call for a more open government. The idea behind that is that when these deals are made for the soccer stadium and things like that it’s not public information. So the stuff is happening. Also with the sports authority where the money goes there or to the convention authority.

The money goes to those places and doesn’t come back to the city. You fund things like a soccer stadium or the convention center and all the revenues are directed there without any transparency about that kind of information.

Kevin Baigert: These quasi-governmental organizations get set up and then they become this big black box where the money goes in and never comes out. And the citizens can’t see what’s going on there.

Laura Baigert: And they don’t even cover their costs. Remember the NFL draft so extra police and all these other resources are needed which comes out of the regular general fund that is supposed to pay for everything else. But the convention authority gets all of the money that comes in. That’s just not right.

Kevin Baigert: And meanwhile the head of that organization is making a very high six-figure salary.

Laura  Baigert: $300,000 to $400,000 a year.

Cunningham: And if you ever hear the words dedicated revenue source run. (Laughter)

Kevin Baigert: That means they have their hand on your wallet.

Cunningham: Can you imagine what would have happened if they had passed this and we would have gone into debt of billions of dollars for mass transit that would now be sitting there empty!

Laura Baigert: As if it’s not empty already. What is it? $ 300 billion that people’s retirement benefits are not funded. The pension is funded but not their other post-employment benefits. Nobody ever talks about that.

Cunningham: It’s funny, we never talk about the priorities. We are $4 billion in debt on this pension liability. We have no money set aside in the Metro government. It’s crazy.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Legislative Plaza Protesters” by Justin Jones.








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One Thought to “Guest Host Ben Cunningham and Laura Baigert Discuss the Media’s Glorification of Protesters and the Need for Government Transparency”

  1. F. George Dunham, III

    Paid protests need to stop. Also, Laura Baigert is super hot I love her voice.