By Steve Robinson
As we reflect on Flagler County’s resounding rejection of the bigotry, lies and posturing of its County Commission Chairman Joe Mullins, please allow me—a board member of FlaglerLive—to weigh in on FlaglerLive’s coverage of this man.
Mullins has spent the last several years viciously attacking FlaglerLive’s editor, Pierre Tristam. Politicians lashing out at journalists is as old the nation itself, but Mullins’ attacks on Pierre were ugly, personal and, frankly, threatening. A politician supposedly serving citizens of the country’s third-largest state borrowed extensively from the sort of anti-Semitic caricatured images that infested the German press in the 1930s, and that can easily be found to this day on far-right and neo-Nazi websites.
The fact that Pierre is not Jewish is irrelevant. Depicting a man as a terrorist, as a cockroach that needs to be squashed is an invitation to violence and is simply beyond the pale. A while back, several FlaglerLive board members, myself included, became concerned enough about Mullins that we discussed whether some response to these personal attacks was called for. We batted around ideas, from simply issuing an official board statement of condemnation, to a citizens’ campaign coordinated by the board to challenge Mullins’ lies and threats.
As a board member and FL’s editor, Pierre listened quietly to all of this and said simply “No.” I’m paraphrasing here, but Pierre reminded all of us that a journalist’s job is not to organize, petition or canvass, but to report facts. Above all, he said, a journalist must not become the story. Pierre’s response to our worries about his and his family’s safety left some of us frustrated and not a little fearful for him in these overheated times. But, as usual, Pierre was correct. His job, which he has done with remarkable poise and diligence over the years, is to report.
And report he did, presenting facts about Joe Mullins’ behavior that called into question Mullins’ fitness for public office in Flagler County—or anywhere else for that matter—and were finally too much for even Flagler Republicans to ignore.
There is a lesson here. Serious local journalism—not the weekly shopper variety—is disappearing in this country, and that is more than a shame, it is dangerous. Government wields most of its influence at the local level, and the absence of coverage of politicians and their machinations in villages, towns and counties is almost as much of a threat to our democracy as the crimes committed in Washington, D.C., around Jan. 6.
Some might say—both in support and in opposition—that FlaglerLive “got” Mullins. I would disagree. Pierre resisted the board’s visceral and very human impulse to “get” Mullins by doing what a journalist does—he assembled facts to inform an electorate about a corrupt, contemptible bigot in public office. Mullins “got” himself through his own actions and, armed with facts about him from FlaglerLive, the voters of Flagler County finally “got” Mullins. And that’s the way it should be.
Steve Robinson, retired from a 30-year career in New York and Atlanta in print, TV and the Web, and has been a FlaglerLive board member for almost a decade. Reach him by email here.
Jack Howell says
I have the utmost respect for Pierre and his magic on the keyboards. I may not always agree with his position on specific topics, but I will vigorously defend his right to publish them! That’s what we do in a democracy. And yes, sometimes the truth hurts.
Michael Cocchiola says
Well said. Pierre is one of the all too few media voices that we can trust. Brian McMillan of the Observer is another but we’re losing him, to the detriment of our community.
So Pierre must soldier on above the muck and mire and continue to tell us the truth. Yes, there’s always a risk, but he can handle it and that’s what makes him a news reporter worthy of admiration and trust.
Purveyor of Truth says
Once again, the pen proved mightier than the sword.
Sentiments we all need to take to heart. The loss of each local journalist gives tyrants and authoritarians another opportunity to rend the fabric our founders so carefully weaved into this great American Experiment.
Support your local journalists, lest our democracy die in the darkness, a paraphrasing of the Washington Post masthead.
Pierre, I said this to you privately last night, and I proudly say it to you publicly. I would be remiss if I didn’t take time to say thank you. I know how he came after you, relentlessly. Your hard work helped a lot of voters. Thank you.
I understand the board’s concern for safety. My family had those same thoughts in 2018 when he first ran. I applaud your courage to report the facts and help inform the voters of Flagler County so we could get him.
Well done, sir!
I wonder what town Mullins will move his circus act to next?
ASF, To a galaxy far, far, far away…. we hope.
Pierre Tristam has done honest commendable work for Palm Coast from day one! With the world in such a sad state with the lies and falsehoods a common tone, I absolutely respect the many times Pierre has taken the high ground and NOT blasted these local politicians back into their place!! Danko, Mullins and Lowe have shown no respect to Pierre over these past few years yet he does the honorable thing and reports. We can all celebrate their losses because they hung themselves.
I tip my hat to you Pierre.
Couldn’t WAIT TO VOTE MULLINS OUT!!! BYE JOE!
John Reynolds says
Well stated. Thank you and the staff at Flagler Live
Ok I don’t disagree with your stance on Mr Mullins how ever the part where it is a reporters job to report facts!!! This is where my issue with Mr Tristan arises he does not simply report facts! He puts his personal opinion and agenda in his stories not just facts I wish he would just stick to facts and leave his personal feelings or opinions in his head.. his personal feelings ruin his stories and as a reader makes him not so trusted by me!!!
Roy Longo says
FlaglerLive does report the facts. He also does opinion pieces like every other news agency, right, left or in the middle. Pick up any newspaper in the country and look at the Op-Ed page. He owns the news site and it’s his right to say whatever he likes.
Not understanding how you confuse reporting the facts with clearly stated “editorials” where different opinions are brought forward. We as readers are informed, and we have the option to ignore the opinion pieces. The articles on news however, are always well researched and presented. We are extremely fortunate in Flagler to have a reliable and truthful source of news.
Can’t trust the facts reported by wonderful Flaglerlive? Why do I suspect the BS on FOX may be more to your liking?
I will defend Pierre’s right to his opinion and would stand shoulder to shoulder with him to express it. But I just wish those opinions would stay in his well written editorials instead of in every piece he writes, in every cartoon that is shared…… Flaglerlive provides a great service and great information for the county, but politically impartial in it’s reporting of the news it is not. To say it is, is just dishonest. In the news I watch on TV or read, I should not be able to tell the political leanings of the broadcaster or writer of the article. Just give me the news…..
Sam Adams says
SO SO SO glad Flagler chose love over hate.
Beautifully said. Thank you.
Nanci Whitley says
So happy he’s about to be gone, now if we can rid ourselves of DeSantis….
Didn’t realize it escalated to threats personal & family ? But that’s the cancel culture(s) of the extremes of Right & Left ?
But that’s the true nature & core of the Mullins type of supporter in that district of Flagler county ? Flagler county/City of Palm Coast has seen it’s share of 6 month hire & fire turnovers, & that’s just in the time I’ve been in Flagler county from late 2018/early 2019. The resignations => retirements => firings. Mullins did get himself.
Just my observations, clean & sober drug addicts seem to apply the same addictive behaviors & empower the excuses of their addiction life to be applied, for lack of a better term, fanatically to what they reinvent themselves into for clean & sober. While Mullins has been clean & sober for 11 years, he struggles with that every day & to this day, so it’s almost like that’s an 11 year withdrawal of mean & nasty ? As he is a relative survivor of that, the alternative is slipping back into whatever addictions one might do.
Purely speculative, but this election defeat, what does Mullins do to reinvent himself, whether it’s here in Flagler or moving on to another county or state even ? It appears the long haul of whatever he’s going thru is looking like a total failure for his empire of companies at this point of being unemployed in a matter of weeks/months ? I don’t know the exact date a transition happens for the elected. Who knows what the current legal issues that dog him ultimately end up doing to his own family. I guess it was about the time Mullins went clean & sober, still in GA, that his marriage ended over some really weird stuff ? To build the illusion, Mullins seems to have done some shady things. Perhaps that’s how the wealthier make it happen ?
I was surprised when Mullins escaped censor, I figure if it gets that far to a council vote, he should have been censored & recalled. I think Flagler county covered that up and Mullins seemed to be better behaved, perhaps he was starting to deal with the rest of his legal issues, that is until re-election here in August 2022 ? As I recall the excuses were that it would hurt Flagler county’s bond rating or whatever. Outright removal would’ve been the election that City of Palm Coast ended up paying for the Holland resignation to get Alfin in as Mayor. Everyone was afraid of the divisiveness of overriding a district’s vote for Mullins as a councilperson in the first place.
And then the campaign trail turned into unfounded accusations & attacks of opponents with the drama of a drug deal attempt mixed in for August 2022 ? So yeah, glad that’s over with, I think his time is up here for much of anything, there really isn’t much to reinvent politically for a position. Nationally, the Mullins political brand is pretty much mud too ? A lot of this is out there statewide, regionally & nationally. Don’t know if he can overcome that to reinvent himself ?
Big Scheme of things says
I’m a staunch Republican but I enjoy Pierre’s interpretation of things, and I respect his opinion regarding local Politics. In my opinion? He excels and should retain this reputation and expertise but National politics is a different matter entirely.
Now that’s a very well written commentary, Mullins did himself in but it was a shame it took so long. Bet you he will be leaving Flagler shortly, his frail ego can’t accept defeat and the criminal charges will be closing in on him. Sort of like what’s happening to Looser # 45. Like they say, birds of a feather flock together and crash together.
Pierre Tristam the bigger man. He stuck to his guns and like Mom used to say ” Sometimes you give them enough rope they will hang themselves” Mullins is another whom is his own worst enemy. He gave us the facts and in the end Mom was right indeed. VOTE Accordingly.
I Just Love Flagler Beach says
Thank you to Pierre and Flagler Live. You are my only reliable local news source.
As to Pierre pushing his own agenda and personal opinions, my experience is that when people who hold differing views are confronted with the truth they want to write that truth off as just someone else’s opinion.
Nightmare over? One can only hope so.
But why do have the feeling it’s only a slight reprieve and we’re still on the Titanic?
As always- thank you Mr Tristam.
Pierre and Flagler Live Board and staff keep reporting to us the truth as you always have.
Mullin is a bully like his idol and for some reason the Cult GOP party think it makes them long better when they insult someone they disagree with not carring the harm they could be causing on that person.
Mullin got what he deserved and brought on himself for losing the election. The Flagler County Commissioners for way over a year have put our voices on mute and did nothing about his insulting out of control behavior. Well the Flagler County citizens did their work and voted the little boy out of office.
We all can only hope now lttle boy Mullin goes back to Georgia but something tells me they won’t let him back in there. He can always go to Mar A Lago and polish Trumps golf clubs.
FB Native says
We’re fortunate that FlaglerLive covered all of the theatrical garbage Joe has put this county through. Without the dedicated, even-keeled reporting on everything that Lil man Joe was up to, we may have succumbed to a few more years of the clown show.
I do find it quite concerning, that despite the public threats & bullying, January 6th involvement, haphazard approach to speed limits, MULTIPLE RICO INVESTIGATIONS FOR FRAUD, and most recently his indigent status (bankrupt), so many people still voted for him.
We deserve better in Flagler County, and it finally feels like we’re moving in the right direction.
Thank you for bringing these important issues to light, and allowing folks to be informed on such vital matters.
Every month when the bank confirms that my automatic draft of a contribution to Flagler Live has been processed, I am thankful for Pierre and for the work he does. Sunlight is the best disinfectant they say, and Pierre brings it by the bucketload!
If YOU want to help Flagler Live endure, maybe you could sign up for a monthly contribution too. The amount is up to you!
Mullins own actions has caught up with him…Karma is best….He made national news with his own egotistical behavior and it finally cost him….He might want to find another career. Perhaps go back to school. I hear the ” other” corrupt Joe is giving out school debt forgiveness. He might want to take him up on the new scam.