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Governor Jeff Landry has a moon problem.

Conservative radio host Moon Griffon has been Landry’s most vocal advocate in Louisiana – until now.

Griffon has broadcast across the state to an audience composed primarily of Landry supporters and has sharply criticized him over the past 10 days for siding with political opponents of business in two high-profile moves.

“The trial lawyers continue to win,” Griffon said on June 14, a morning after Landry appointed John Carmouche, a prominent legal opponent of the petrochemical industry, to the LSU board of trustees. “Jeff has a base, and I don’t think the trial lawyers are that base… I’m trying to understand that.”

Five days later, Griffon rebuked Landry for vetoing a bill, a move that drew praise from personal injury lawyers but criticism from the business community.

Five weeks earlier, Griffon had rebuked Landry for orchestrating the creation of a black-majority congressional district that Democratic state Sen. Cleo Fields of Baton Rouge is expected to win.

On June 15, Landry appeared on Griffon’s show at his own request to address the criticism.

“You know me, Moon. I will not back down,” Landry told Griffon. “I am ready for a spirited discussion.”

The two of them got to work.

“I’m not defending the legal profession,” Landry once said. “In fact, I find it an insult. I’m defending working people.”

Landry surprised Griffon by staying on the air for three segments, a total of 45 minutes. Afterward, Griffon told his listeners, “One thing I like about Jeff is that he fights for what he believes in.”

Griffon later said he remained a big fan of Landry, but expressed frustration that the governor was not the staunch conservative Griffon expected him to be.

Griffon, 63, has been broadcasting talk radio in Louisiana for 31 years, primarily for listeners in Lafayette, Monroe, Shreveport, Lake Charles and Alexandria, with less of a presence in Baton Rouge. He just started broadcasting two hours of airtime each weekday on WGSO-990 AM in New Orleans.

Over the years, Griffon has won supporters on the far right with his hard-line approach to tax, spending and culture-warrior issues, all while laughing loudly and cracking jokes in a deep Cajun growl. He is registered as an unaffiliated voter and calls Republicans “stupid” and Democrats “evil.”

A tongue with barbs

On the radio, Griffon gives insulting nicknames to politicians who, in his opinion, do not live up to their conservative principles.

“Psycho Bill Cassidy,” for example, is the name of the highest-ranking senator who voted to convict former President Donald Trump of inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Republican Senate President Cameron Henry of Metairie is known as “Half-Hearted Henry” because he is leading the Senate opposition to Landry’s initiative this year to convene the Senate to revise Louisiana’s constitution.

He calls this newspaper the “Advocatus Diaboli”.

“He didn’t want to offend anyone,” Griffon said one day during a commercial break in his radio studio in Lafayette.

“We just don’t take things as personally as a lot of other people,” he told his friend and guest at the time, trial lawyer Digger Earles. “We have a lot of fun. My father said, ‘Learn to laugh at yourself. Because everyone else is already doing it.'”

Those who have to take his comments as caustic do not always recognize the humor.

“He makes his money criticizing people,” said Foster Campbell, a longtime member of the Civil Service Commission who represents northwest Louisiana. “He never has facts about how to run the state. It’s all negative. He’s against it. Always against it.”

One day Griffon called him “Banana Foster” on the radio.

“Mooncake,” replied Campbell, who later said, “He hated being called that. He can dish it out, but he can’t take it.”

Finding your niche

Griffon began his career in Monroe as part of a reorientation after a failed marriage and personal bankruptcy following a stint in the catering business. His move to talk radio would not have surprised his fellow students in his speech classes at Northeast Louisiana University. There, he enjoyed public speaking and excelled in those classes while earning mediocre grades in others.

Griffon grew up in Plaquemine with the real name Blaine. His parents nicknamed him Moon, he said, because of his childhood love of the iconic song Moon River. His last name was pronounced like Griffin, but now he pronounces it like he has an accent over the “o” to add a Cajun flair.

Griffon was a 6-foot-5 basketball star with a good shot at Redemptorist High in Baton Rouge until he tore his knee during his senior year and missed out on a scholarship opportunity at Ole Miss. Instead, he went to Northeast High School and played only sporadically.

Griffon first came to attention when Mike Foster was governor in the late 1990s. He was invited to the governor’s residence so Foster could explain his support for a tax measure. Griffon refused to accept Foster’s reasoning and attacked him on the air.

Griffon did not dwell too much on Foster’s Democratic successor, Kathleen Blanco, because, he said, he liked Blanco personally and did not have high expectations of her.

Blanco’s Republican successor, Bobby Jindal, appeared on Griffon’s show 43 times during his gubernatorial campaign in 2006 and 2007, Griffon said, adding that Jindal wrote the largest check he had ever received from an advertiser.

“It wasn’t six figures, but it was close to the limit,” Griffon said in an interview, noting that he finds his own advertisers to pay for the airtime and his salary.

But one day during the campaign, Griffon repeatedly asked Jindal if he would support a pardon for former Governor Edwin Edwards, a Democrat who is in prison on corruption charges.

“He didn’t answer,” Griffon said. “I asked him a second time. I asked him a third time. He was a congressman at the time. He didn’t look at me for the rest of the show and never came back.”

Griffon said the Baton Rouge radio station that aired his program fired him because of his attacks on Jindal during his term as governor.

“I took my defeat and moved on,” Griffon said. Now he’s back on the air in Baton Rouge.

An entertainer at heart

Griffon takes pleasure in calling Jindal’s successor “Bel Edwards,” even though he knows full well that the former governor’s first name is “John Bel.”

Griffon believes Edwards set Louisiana back 15 years by accepting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which provided health insurance to about 400,000 Louisianans while saving the state money.

“It has made us more dependent on government than ever before,” Griffon said, noting that Washington is paying 90 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid.

No issue seems to motivate Griffon more than taxes and government spending.

“If we don’t cut government spending, we’re not going to fix anything,” Griffon said recently on his show. “If you have more money to feed a pig, the animals will continue to grow.”

He virtually never talks about how government spending is used to educate children, maintain people’s health, and build new roads.

Griffon remains upset that in 2018, when the one-cent sales tax expired, lawmakers passed a .45-cent sales tax instead. The Republican state representative who supported the temporary extension was what he calls “Paula ‘Pelosi’ Davis.”

Davis responded in a text message: “Obviously the insults didn’t resonate in the 69th district, as I was re-elected with 78% of the vote last term and unopposed this term. As Margaret Thatcher once said, ‘When they attack you personally, they don’t have a single political argument left.'”

In the studio, Griffon often waves his arms, points his fingers, and shrugs his shoulders as if he were speaking to an audience, even though no one can see him except his sound engineer.

He freely admits that he is an entertainer.

“You can complain, but I tell you: If people can laugh with you or at you, then you can captivate an audience,” Griffon said.

John Sutherlin, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, is not surprised that Griffon has begun to criticize Landry.

“Moon has a history of supporting and praising candidates, and then once they’re in office, he tears them apart,” Sutherlin said.

The governor doesn’t mind, said Kate Kelly, Landry’s spokeswoman.

“Moon is a friend of Governor Landry’s and frankly it would be abnormal if they agreed on every single issue,” Kelly wrote in a text message. “This should come as no surprise to anyone. We all want the best for our state and appreciate all the conservative voices working to make Louisiana a better place.”