Reporter Threatened! Details at 5!

Someone wants to kill Richard Belcher.

Yes, again.

Ok, that’s not exactly a new story.  Somebody or another always wants to kill Richard Belcher.

Since he is actually a very nice guy (especially for an investigative reporter), I suppose this just confirms the fact that the man is very good at what he does.  Trust me, if you are ever getting out of your car, and you look up and see Richard Belcher walking toward you with some documents in his hand and a videographer already rolling tape, it is a safe bet that life as you know it is about to come to an end — or at the very least change forever.

(First, a disclaimer.  I am friends with Richard and for many years worked with him at WSB-TV Action News, a station I still love, respect and occasionally even ask for a favor.  So, take me at my word when I compliment both his investigative prowess and the station’s shrewd marketing.)

At any rate, the target of Belcher’s latest investigation is this truly fabulous old geezer:


WSB-TV Action News aired this absolutely spellbinding promo for Belcher’s investigation as often as possible, and, over and over, the man reaches for Belcher’s throat and snarls, “You better (bleep) watch it, man. I can break your neck!”

It is brilliant.  Truly.

No lie, I could watch this clip 100 more times.  It’s just that entertaining.

But do I care about the particulars of Belcher’s investiation? Does it really matter to me what those documents prove about this small town public official and why he’s so darn upset?


I mean, he’s the city manager (or something like that) in Braswell — wherever that is.  At first, I thought it was Braselton, the town Kim Basinger famously bought and later sold, but I was wrong — as is so often the case.

So, unless you happen to be one of that town’s 14 or 15 residents, or unless it turns out the mean old fool is actually D.B. Cooper and he’s been hiding in rural Georgia all these years, chances are excellent that your life is not going to be affected no matter what wrongdoing Belcher has uncovered.  (From the looks of it, I’d guess something to do with meth, but I’d probably be wrong again.)

Thus, the caption under this promo on the WSB website says, “SNEAK PEEK: Man Threatens WSB-TV Reporter.”

The actual investigative story — whatever it might be — is completely overshadowed by the fact that the camera was rolling when this clone of Walter Brennan became agitated enough by the impending destruction of his career to go crazy in the street.  (Does Braswell have more than one street?  Not sure.)

As all of you in the business already are aware, this is what is referred to in newsrooms as “Good TV.”

The phrase is a bit of a misnomer, obviously.  It is “good” not because it contributes to the betterment of mankind or anything like that, but because people will want to watch it.

In seeming recognition of that fact, the WSB website goes a step farther than ever before — posting a full minute and a half of unedited videotape from the incident.  (You’ll find it if you scroll down on the same page as the promo above.)  Why bother watching the news story itself, when you can see the entire hilarious confrontation like a clip from “America’s Funniest Home Videos?”

The caption says, “RAW VIDEO: City Manager Threatens Richard Belcher.”

And, yes.  Yes, he does just that.  The city manager of Bumblewherever threatens Richard at length.

(If for some unimaginable reason you still want to see Belcher’s investigative report and bore yourself with the evidence he’s expertly uncovered of some kind of wrongdoing, you’ll find it on the site, too. The caption reads, “Tiny Community Embroiled in Big Dispute Over Taxpayer Money.”   The introductory graphic, however, just says, “Outraged Official.”)

I really don’t want or need to watch it, though.  Belcher’s reputation is impeccable.  I trust that that he got the goods (whatever they may be) and this raving coot is the local scumbag, or a reasonable facimilie thereof.

The particulars just don’t matter.

And so, viewers are saved the trouble of wasting time watching an actual news story, thanks to and the “Good Parts” version.  Once again, Action News has beaten the competition by pioneering a new frontier.

— CB Hackworth

17 thoughts on “Reporter Threatened! Details at 5!

  1. SHS

    Richard Belcher is NOT a particularly good investigative reporter.

    Richard Belcher knows exactly what he is doing, he knows just how far to push the envelope — and when all is said and done — he hides behind a corporate entity whose deep pockets make it damn near impossible for the person he has slandered and libeled to recover any damages or retain their good name.

    You were right when you said (referring to a presumably innocent private citizen) that is is “a safe bet that life as you know it is about to come to an end — or at the very least change forever”. Richard Belcher is willing to destroy a life by obtaining and broadcasting unsubstantiated and unproven charges from questionnable, shadowy, unnamed, unprincipled “inside” sources. For the price of his salary, Richard Belcher is willing to sell his soul to the Devil.

    [I’ve heavily edited this comment to remove numerous personal attacks on Belcher, obviously written by somebody with an ax to grind – LAF]

    1. CB Hackworth

      Well, obviously I strongly disagree with this critic.

      First, it’s quite easy for a blog reader to make these kinds of scurrilous accusations under the cloak of anonymity, while Belcher puts his good name on the line every time he says something. Think about that for a minute.

      Second, it’s asinine to say that an investigative reporter can hide “behind a corporate entity whose deep pockets make it damn near impossible for the person he has slandered and libeled to recover any damages or retain their good name.” Those very same deep pockets make television stations excellent targets of lawsuits. If a story contains any kind of mistake resulting in slander, the station (or, more specifically, its insurance carrier) will settle. The reason you see very few people “recover any damages or retain their good name” is because the reports are well documented.

      I’ve never known Richard Belcher to go on the air half baked. I have known him to insist on holding off on a story until he did have the goods.

      I would like some examples from this critic. Specifically, point us to some stories where Belcher has relied on “unsubstantiated and unproven charges from questionnable [sic], shadowy, unnamed, unprincipled ‘inside’ sources.” That doesn’t happen.

      You may not like television news, or investigative reporting, or Richard Belcher — and that’s your right — but everything you wrote is a lie.

      1. Dash Riptide

        Yeah, well, I’ve seen Belcher a few times around town and all I’ve got to say is he’s got a lot of nerve being so tall. I know plenty of you insiders can back me up on this.

  2. Dumbtwentysomething

    Who is Walter Brennenan….did he come befor Walter Cronkite. Can someone please twitter me an answer?

  3. rptrcub

    My favorite was when Jim Strickland did some story or other up in Rabun County and the subject of the story tried to run over him. The promos had some lady, who witnessed the whole thing, on camera saying “she just tried to keel yew!”

  4. burke brennan

    Even better than the clip is what Wikipedia says about Braswell, GA:

    Braswell is a city in Polk and Paulding Counties in the U.S. state of Georgia. The population was 80 at the 2000 census.

    Braswell was the location of the only tunnel on Southern Railway’s (now Norfolk Southern Railway) Chattanooga to Atlanta main line. The tunnel was bypassed in 1979 by cutting through Braswell mountain slightly to the east. The tunnel is still there, but is overgrown with vegetation and is a safety hazard due to snake infestation.

    Despite its small size, Braswell has its own police department which includes a chief, a lieutenant and three officers, giving the city a ratio of one officer for every 16 residents.

    1. Jim

      Okay Burke, but who’s Walter Brennan (any relation)? Just kidding, I remember him from when I was a kid. He was the high pitched old (even then) guy on the westerns. Sort of a cowboy version of Barney Fife.

      As for the Richard Belcher story, I could watch that about a hundred more times. Belcher’s “country” speech when he was talking to the old man and trying to calm him down was GREAT! I was waitin’ for the hoedown to start:-)

  5. cityjock

    Wow, that was just awesome. If only Shirley Franklin did the same to CBS Atlanta’s Tony McNary today!

  6. tag team partner

    Speaking as someone who stood in those driveways at 7am with Richard, I would say this old coot is caught. Nothing made my day better than to see the faces of those we really had by the short hairs. The comment about how he slanders and ruins people is off base. Jails are full of innocent people. Just ask them.

    Belcher is the best.

  7. NewsWatcher

    I would argue the story is great and relevant. Government waste and corruption–at any level–deserves to be exposed. Stories like these make examples of small town officials who think because they are in small towns they’ll get away with anything.

    Also, I think unlike the treatment many stations may have given the story, there was a tease of the confrontation at the beginning but the entire story went on and told the facts before the rest of the messy scene played out. That kept me watching, minimized the theatrics, and maximized the substance.

    Also, the Outraged Official graphic ties into the station’s promotion and let viewers know immediately that THIS was the story they’d been waiting for.

    Also props out to the rock-solid photography and editing on every shot except the unexpected drama. The lighting in the interview with the whistleblowers is excellent, and like good, steady, well-composed photography is rare these days.


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