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Traficant plays us, the press, for fools

Published: Sun, December 20, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

By Bertram de Souza

The Mahoning Valley’s No. 1 Con Man — con as in convict and con as in conniver — must still be laughing today about how he lured reporters to a press conference Thursday with the promise of a “major announcement.”

Is he going to announce his candidacy for Congress or some other federal office, we wondered. Is he going to introduce the doctor who will be performing a lobotomy on him? Is he bringing his clothes designer to town to talk about the new cut of his bell-bottom trousers?

There was breathless media speculation after a Traficant mouthpiece contacted certain reporters to inform them of the event.

Is there any significance to the location, the Hampton Inn & Suites in Canfield, political observers asked. Does the 9 a.m. start time mean he’s going to be on “Live With Regis and Kelly?”

So, when Thursday morning came around, reporters were on tenterhooks. (This writer was not invited to attend and chose not to give the former 17th District congressman the pleasure of barring him from the event.)

But it’s now clear that all the secrecy surrounding the reason for the press conference was designed to lure the media.

Traficant, meeting with local reporters for the first time since his release in September from federal prison, had nothing of significance to say. In fact, the only thing that was clear is that he’s still the mad hatter he was when he went off to the penitentiary mumbling to himself, “I’m the target of a conspiracy by the FBI, the IRS, the Justice Department and the White House.”

Criminal counts

Never mind that he was found guilty by a federal jury of 10 criminal counts, including racketeering, bribery and tax evasion. And never mind that federal prosecutors brought witness after witness to the stand who testified to this despicable individual’s greed and lack of integrity.

But the lemmings who are Traficant’s supporters nodded with understanding and kept up the ridiculous grand-conspiracy theory all through his time behind bars.

And when he emerged still claiming to be a victim, the Jimbonistas rose to up in feigned anger against the big bad federal government. Two thousand of them attended a Welcome Home, Jimbo party and thus began the mindless chatter about his running for Congress again.

That’s why the reporters went to the press conference. But instead of an announcement, Traficant said that one of his peeps is circulating nominating petitions in not one, not two, but three congressional districts. Based on the response, he’ll decide whether to run. That was the big announcement. (Here’s a campaign slogan he could use: Send a Con man to Congress.)

Or, was it his plan to bring an Indian casino to the Mahoning Valley — a plan missing the one key element that would give it legitimacy: a recognized Indian tribe. But that didn’t stop the ex-con from pontificating about his gambling con.

Or, could it be the warning he delivered to the unions to leave area grocer Henry Nemenz alone.

Even taken all together, none of the things Traficant talked about rose to the level of a press conference worth reporters’ time.

Thus the question: How long will we, legitimate journalists, allow Traficant to manipulate us? The answer is clear: Not long at all.

The next time he announces a press conference, he should be required to issue a news release that lays out in detail the issues he intends to discuss. Then we can decide whether he’s handling us again.

An admission

Indeed, the only reason the press should even bother with Traficant is if he admits that he’s corrupt, used his public position for personal gain and that he is withdrawing from public life.

We’ll give him a grand send off.

Otherwise, if he persists in pursuing the fool’s errand of seeking to return to Congress, this writer, for one, will be there to remind the public of what he is: A two-bit crook who believes that what he has to say is still relevant.

Here’s a suggestion: Just as Ashley Dupre, the hooker who brought down New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer, has become an advice columnist for the New York Post, Traficant should offer to write an advice column — about political corruption.


1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

I think Jimbo has now disappointed many of us. His casino proposal is for the jailbirds. He should just retire and go away. His time has passed.

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2Askmeificare(1167 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Interesting scenarios playing out.

The casino proposal keeps him "publicly" alive and if indeed reaches fulfillment, well, his transformation places him somewhere from a P.T Barnum to a God. The same as it is now.

The Congressional petition keeps him "politically" viable. Black and white or smoke and mirrors, one of these districts will be friendly and within a ridiculous margin of 20% re- elect him to office if he chooses that path. Afterall, he'll wait a few weeks before an election to bring out the fireworks anyway... The same as he has always done.

Either way, like the label or not, this living "political legend" is walking a high wire no one in our lifetime has ever walked before and with a passion for fighting, it makes for incredible entertainment. The same as our town has always enjoyed.

Entertainment aside, I wish our town, the greatest city in the world, could find someone who would stand up and at least do their job, even if they are learning it as they go, regardless of party affiliation, honestly and determined to give Youngstown, the greatest city in the world, the credibility it deserves.

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3Tugboat(759 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

When asked why not ignore Traficant like he does the Vindy staff the response was this:

"Fair comment, Tug. And certainly something we've discussed in the newsroom.

Two points: Even if the Vindy doesn't show up other media will. Our absence will not going to create the effect you describe. Secondly, having watched the other media's mostly fawning regurgitation of the event, who else but the Vindy is going to ask hard questions, research issues like Indian casinos in Ohio, call Henry Nemenz, etc.?

In the end: Life teaches us ignoring something rarely causes it to go away and leaving the hard work up to others will almost always lead to failure.

Thanks for the input. We're always reviewing our coverage options.

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor"

Seems to me that with a news release or not, the Vindy will still be played.

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4msweetwood(179 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Hey Tug:

I doubt the average person – having read our news accounts of Mr. Traficant's news conference, and the subsequent columns by Dave Skolnick and Bertram de Souza – would be able to make the case that the Vindy has been "played" and I doubt Team Traficant feels that way.

In fact, without the various media accounts and live streaming, etc., this very column would have been impacted because Bertram was not invited to the press event and otherwise would not have been informed enough to ascertain his view that Mr. Traficant "had nothing of significance to say."

So, we continue to assess, as I suggested. The bottom line is that all members of the media have a higher responsibility to report responsibly and accurately. Media honchos cannot send mere stenographers to high profile news events. And meaningful commentary is a must. In the Valley, there is no substitute for the Skolniks, de Souza's, et al of The Vindicator staff.

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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5Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Trying to get a degree in BS technology is what Jim seems to doing . Yes, it is all about attention . Winter is upon us and as such the onset of cabin fever is starting it's course . It is hard to alleviate boredom by just watching the news without any coverage of personal achievements . If all else fails then arriving at the Chili Open could be seen as an accomplishment that would be newsworthy .

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6Tugboat(759 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Dear Mr. Sweetwood:

Businesses and celebrities survive at the whims of the customers and fans. As an example, the second we stop flocking to the theater to see Tom Cruise, there's no more Tom Cruise. The same applies to politicians.

Also, I am sorry to report that my copy of 'Neighbors' was shredded by the snow thrower for the person who delivered it tossed it at the end of my driveway, like a spent cigarette, and it was covered with snow.

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7candystriper(575 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

How about getting test results for mercury levels in local Democrats..ask Ryan and Pelosi for them...lol.

Will they serve champagne at the free health care clinics?

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8GPackwood(35 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

In addition to being a political living legend, Traficant may be the only person who understands manufacturing job creation and the value of such jobs to a community and the overall economy of the United States.

The Obama administration is slowly realizing that manufacturing jobs are disappearing across this country but holding strong in Germany.

I wonder why?

When we at last see a federal initiative for a manufacturing sector comeback perhaps Mr. Traficant can summarize what he has been saying for decades about workers and real work.

If nothing else Traficant can refer reporters to the Federal Register where his many speeches are cataloged while saying...

...Told ya so!

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9Woody(491 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago


That is all the Traficant has is speeches and a convention center in Youngstown. All those years in congress and that is all he has to show.

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10candystriper(575 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

The steadfast respect for truth doesn't win influence.

How has the Tiger Woods worship turned out for the U.S.?

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11WoodyGOTL(1 comment)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Jimbo does what Valley folk (and others) want-:tells us what we want to hear, goes to Washington and fights for the Valley, AND BRINGS IT BACK to Youngstown.

My favorite quote from a Traficantite is "He may be a crook, but he is OUR crook".

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12PAPPY(14 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago


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13Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

We have plenty of entertainment here in The Valley . What we are lacking is jobs . Jim had his fifteen minutes of fame in the past and while nostalgia is good it isn't sustaining . Today we need new strategy in developing jobs and limiting governments ability to kill job growth .

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14EliotNess_DC(86 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Give one point to Bertram for coining "Jimbonista."

Deduct one point from Bertram for his Traficant obsession.

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15ochi56(30 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

Bertram, Bertram, Bertram:
As a "Born Again Federal Juror" and a long time "Jimbonista" convert, I can honestly say; 1. You and Former President Bush have one thing in common --- both of you are the "recipients of faulty inteligence." 2. I have a much better insight as to how the trial of Traficant was conducted. 3. I challenge you to seek out and interview the two jurors who have filed affidavits about the trial. 4. Publish the 2-affidavits along with the affidavit filed by deported Mr. Nnamdi Okolo. 5. Finally, The Vindicator is far more superior then 'PRAVDA', in it's heyday, when it comes to spreading propaganda for the state.

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16candystriper(575 comments)posted 6 years, 6 months ago

How can the same people who are not paying FICA pay for healthcare?

Ask Tim...LOL

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