A normally sleepy meeting of the West Boca Community Council got a rude awakening Tuesday night when a member of the press covering the event decided to make the news instead.
Guest speaker and political operative Andre Fladell, the legendary “Prince of Palm Beach County,” was holding court with colleague and BizPac Review President Jack Furnari on the topic of “Power Politics” when he started to answer a question from Fred Hadley of the local newsletter The Village Sentry about the role of ubiquitous cell phone cameras in modern political coverage.
His take wasn’t very flattering.
Every minute is in the public eye, Fladell said, drawing on the example of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s wheelchair use and physical handicaps being largely shielded by the press corps of his day.
And making that constant exposure worse is a generation of reporters who lack the judgment to discern real news before broadcasting it, Fladell said, comparing today’s reporters and modern journalism’s non-stop news cycle to the likes of Walter Cronkite.
Fladell said the business now encourages ambition and irresponsibility at the expense of accuracy – and the good of the country.
“Journalists have no respect for their own profession … no respect for their country,” Fladell said, describing “self-serving, incompetent journalists.”
That was too much for the journalist in attendance, as Marci Shatzman, a reporter for the Sun-Sentinel’s Forum Publishing Group, interrupted Fladell loudly before storming from the room.
“I totally disagree – I’m a member of the press,” Shatzman shouted. “I’m not going to sit here and listen to this crap. I’m leaving.”
On the way out, she threatened a boycott of any more community council meetings that won’t get “one goddamned bit of coverage.”
Fladell plowed on, only to be interrupted again when Shatzman returned, crying “don’t listen to him. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about … He’s full of you know what.”
Unfortunately for Shatzman, the outburst really only proved Fladell’s point.
“Interrupting my speech in the middle shows a lack of professional courtesy,” he said. “There is no judgment being used.”
Shatzman did not return an email seeking comment Wednesday.
Fladell told BizPac Review, “in defending the First Amendment right to freedom of the press, she was comfortable obliterating my First Amendment right to free speech.”
“At least she didn’t throw a shoe at me from the back of the room,” he added.
Fred Hadley recorded the event. He provided BizPac Review with photos and the following YouTube video: