Ex-editorial editor still writing

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In his day, Phil Kent could turn a passing phrase between two local politicians into a newspaper column that galvanized conservatives across Richmond County.

Phil Kent, the former editor of The Augusta Chronicle's editorial page, now owns a media consulting firm. He has written two books and still writes columns.   Special
Special
Phil Kent, the former editor of The Augusta Chronicle's editorial page, now owns a media consulting firm. He has written two books and still writes columns.

Today, The Augusta Chronicle 's former editorial page editor lives in Atlanta, where he is a self-employed media communications consultant for political advocacy groups and corporations. It's a role that has allowed him to continue his political critique of issues, such as illegal immigration and the recent health care overhaul.

Kent's columns have been published in The Atlanta Journal Constitution and The Washington Times . He also has written two books, The Dark Side of Liberalism and Foundations of Betrayal: How the Liberal Super Rich Undermine America .

Kent began his career at The Chronicle in 1974 at age 23 as an editorial writer and soon became its editorial page editor, a position he held until 1998.

Kent gained notoriety for his right-wing views, which were celebrated by conservatives and dismissed by liberals.

In the black community, Kent's commentary was taken by some as racism.

"I won't go so far as to say his articles were anti-black," said James Kendrick, a local businessman and former chairman of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. "But they were anti-black leaders and most of the issues that black people are interested in."

Kent said the editorial page was simply conservative, and that many equate conservatism with racism.

"Whenever you're going after black leaders, there are always going to be some folks who play the race card," he said. "We also went after a lot of white leaders."

Kent was someone who could, in his own words, "strip the bark" from a politician whose position he opposed, and power brokers of his time both courted and feared his notice.

"If you were in his favor, you wanted to be on the point of his pen. If you were on the back side of his opinion, you did not want to be on the point of his pen," said former local Republican Party leader David Barbee. "He could build you up with his writing, and he could tear you down just as quick."

Democrats would remember Kent differently.

"Phil Kent was a pleasant man, but he was extremely reactionary," said Lowell Greenbaum, the chairman of the Richmond County Democratic Party. "We felt he didn't lead the community in the right direction ... his commentary crossed the line, and we were pleased when he left the editorial board."

Kent stepped down as The Chronicle 's editorial page editor after admitting to and apologizing for using a quote from conservative political commentator Pat Buchanan in his column without attribution. He continued with the paper as a political columnist until 2001.

KENT LEFT AUGUSTA to become the president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, an Atlanta-based public-interest law firm that advocates limited government and free enterprise.

Two years later, he started his own firm, Phil Kent Consulting, Inc. The company provides writing services, media strategies and crisis communications for its clients.

"The fact that I wrote thousands of editorials over 26 years (for The Chronicle ) means I can knock stuff out in 11/2 hours and have people pay good money for that," he said.

Kent said he also stays abreast of regional and national politics, taking in five or six newspapers with his morning coffee each day.

He has been a guest on Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor , and since 2004 has appeared on The Georgia Gang , an Atlanta TV public affairs program.

Kent has gained, perhaps, the most recognition for his commentary against amnesty for illegal immigrants. It's an issue he has written about since his days at The Chronicle .

"I began writing about it in the late 1970s," Kent said. "We thought it would be a threat to the way our traditional assimilation system works."

Kent fought amnesty in 2007 and in 2010 The Journal-Constitution published his editorial opposing the DREAM Act, which was then before Congress.

Kent is a national spokesman for Americans for Immigration Control and serves on the board of the group, Pro-English, which advocates English as the official language of the United States.

KENT recently became concerned with the Democrats' national health care overhaul, which he opposes. In March, he was named the CEO of the American Seniors Association, a group that describes itself as a conservative alternative to AARP.

Looking back, Kent said, he is proud of some editorials he wrote while at The Chronicle , including one in the late 1970s that supported nuclear energy and an expanded Plant Vogtle. He also was proud of supporting the consolidation of the city of Augusta and Richmond County, a measure he believed would eliminate government duplication and waste. However, compromises were made during the 1995 consolidation debate that ought to be corrected, he said.

"There's too much gridlock on the county commission, and there's still a lot of black-white polarization," he said. "I'd like to think it's gotten better, but ... I think we probably need to give the mayor some more power."

Kent said he could one day venture into politics himself. He already attends political events and has rubbed shoulders with presidential candidates.

Phil Kent bio box:

-- A native of Auburn, N.Y. (born 1951)

-- In 1973, graduated from the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady School of Journalism.

-- Began his career at The Chronicle in 1974 as an editorial writer. Left to serve in 1981-82 as press secretary to U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., then returned to The Chronicle as editorial page editor. In 1999, stepped down as editorial page editor and continued as a political columnist.

-- Left The Chronicle in April 2001 and from then until June 2003 worked as president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation. During that time he oversaw a court win in Charlotte over an illegal affirmative action plan.

-- Began Phil Kent Consulting, Inc. in 2003, an Atlanta-based public relations company specializing in media communications.

-- Serves as executive director of American Immigration Control Foundation, a national spokesman for Americans for Immigration Control, an advisory board member of ProEnglish, and as CEO of the American Seniors Association.

-- Has regularly appeared as an author, columnist and media commentator, on Fox News Network, CNN, MSNBC, and is a panelist on Atlanta Fox 5 WAGA-TV's "The Georgia Gang."

-- Served in the Army as a first lieutenant, military police. Married to the former Bonnie Lever and has a son, Philip, Jr., of Augusta

About the series

Have you ever wanted to know what became of a person or issue that once dominated the local news ?

The Augusta Chronicle provides answers to readers' requests in its regular series, 'What ever happened to...?'

Today, we profile Phil Kent, the former longtime editorial editor for The Chronicle whose commentary often stoked controversy in the Augusta area.

Requests can be e-mailed to mike.wynn@ augustachronicle.com; mailed to The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA , 30903-1928, Attn: Mike Wynn; or placed in the online comment section at augustachronicle.com.

MORE ONLINE

READ Kent's blog at philkent.com.

Comments (6) Add comment
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broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 07/25/11 - 03:38 am
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did phil kent request this
Unpublished

did phil kent request this column? what's he running for?

Riverman1
83773
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Riverman1 07/25/11 - 05:04 am
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Phil Kent represents the last

Phil Kent represents the last of the Chronicle people who had the "don't argue with someone who orders his ink by the barrel" power. About the time he was leaving the Chronicle, the internet began to surface and the power was leaving the ink barrels for electronic blips on monitors. In the old days, he could mention a politician and slant the votes this or that way. That era is gone with the Partridge Inn. The influence and power now is at the fingertips of thousands of commenters dissecting every news event and politician's motive.

csrareader
1287
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csrareader 07/25/11 - 01:25 pm
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Riverman, I agree somewhat

Riverman, I agree somewhat but not completely. The newspaper still has a HUGE influence on local politics and will continue to drive public comment, either positive or negative. The editors still have a great deal of influence.

rmwhitley
5547
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rmwhitley 07/25/11 - 05:58 pm
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I live in Canton, Ga. and
Unpublished

I live in Canton, Ga. and find the Chronicle to be the balance between The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Marietta Daily Journal. If the only sources for news were AOL and arianna huffington's Post, I'd be up a creek without a paddle. And y'all know what creek that'd be.

Riverman1
83773
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Riverman1 07/25/11 - 06:19 pm
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CSRAreader, nothing wrong

CSRAreader, nothing wrong with that view. They certainly drive public comments or I would be at another website making my remarks.

DuhJudge
206
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DuhJudge 07/25/11 - 06:49 pm
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I see the eraser still works.

I see the eraser still works.

Riverman1
83773
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Riverman1 07/25/11 - 08:48 pm
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I'm not picking on Mr. Kent,

I'm not picking on Mr. Kent, but I did hear something funny one night involving him. He called Michael Savage's radio show and was attempting to mildly push his book. Savage cut him off and only mentioned his first name. I guess Savage didn't want any free advertizing.

Emerydan
10
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Emerydan 07/25/11 - 11:55 pm
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Let's just hope that now the

Let's just hope that now the words he is writing are his own and not someone else's.

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