What was really different about Blanchard's coverage was that Oliver was accurately reported about what he was saying in the semi-private context of a meeting with "influentials." A lot of loose talk goes on in such circumstances and BellSouth is a past master of using such events to stir up unwarranted fear and doubt in the guise of presenting "information." In this case it was subsequently revealed that BellSouth couldn't pull out if it wanted to and could convince the majority owner that some revenge on its behalf was in order. In exchange for a substantial governmental subsidy, Cingular has a contractual obligation to stay. Oliver neglected to mention this while he shared other, less substantial, "evidence" with the worthies.
When this issue first blew up an Advertiser article hinted that Oliver had made similar remarks during a presentation to the editorial board at that paper. The Independent opens up that angle a bit more:
Oliver is trading on the good reputation of his company and his own reputation when he tries to manipulate people in this way. The Chamber is considering an endorsement currently. They'd be wise to re-evaluate the accuracy of what the incumbents have told them in private in light of this behavior. In trut, all our "influentials" would be wise to take with a grain of salt what the incumbents tell them behind closed doors. It's more likely that you're being taken than being given the "real" inside story. If the incumbents are saying things in private that they won't say in public, it's a good general principle to doubt that the private remarks would bear up under scrutiny.
It’s not the first time Oliver has raised that question. Former Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce Chairman Gary McGoffin says Oliver made similar statements to him last year. According to McGoffin, Oliver said it would be difficult to justify maintaining the center in Lafayette and cited its possible demise as a collateral consequence of the LUS project. (The chamber has not endorsed or denounced LUS’ fiber-to-the-home project.)
City-Parish President Joey Durel also says that Oliver has used the same line of reasoning in conversations with city-parish council members. In his Feb. 25 press conference, Durel fumed at Oliver’s insinuations. “I believe he said the center could be anywhere. I believe he says Lafayette is insignificant,” Durel said.
Especially if the person speaking is Bill Oliver.