Thursday, November 01, 2007

Editorial bias

One wonders why the story, Fired Blunt attorney offered to keep quiet, is published under the "Ozarks local news" section of the Springfield News-Leader today. The Associated Press story reports:

"An attorney who claims Gov. Matt Blunt fired him for disagreeing with the office's e-mail deletion practices said Wednesday that he would have kept quiet if Blunt's friends had helped him find another job...."

"Eckersley said he had remained silent for a month after his firing because a private attorney working on his behalf had attempted to negotiate a deal with Blunt's administration. Under the proposed arrangement, Eckersley said he would have remained silent and not pursued a lawsuit if he would have received a letter of recommendation and a job, preferably with Mitt Romney's presidential campaign...."

"Republican Party Executive Director Jarad Craighead claims Eckersley attempted to extort a job in exchange for his silence...."

"Craighead said he never contacted the Romney campaign on Eckersley's behalf because he didn't feel comfortable recommending him for the job.

"Essentially, they were trying to extort a position for Scott out of the Republican Party, out of the governor," Craighead said. "It was very clear, 'Hey, this can all go away if you give this kid a job."

I just find it interesting that this story finds its place alongside such topics as "Fall foliage may be near its peak," "Safe party for spooky night," and "Scarcity of hay bales leading to concerns over cattle," while the listing of "related news from the web" at the paper's website are "Mitt Romney" and "US News." Eckersley and the state Governor's administration is Ozarks "local" news?

What is the impact of this "local" story on recent editorials that clearly take the side of Eckersley in alleging the Blunt administration fired him because he tried to counsel them regarding the charge that the governor's office wasn't complying with their own policy regarding the retention of emails as public records?

Does it make any difference to journalists who had sided with Eckersley that the sun might not have shone on Eckersley's discontent if Eckersley had received a job recommendation for the Romney campaign? Apparently not.

Placing this story in the Ozarks local news section of the paper gives the appearance that the paper is trying to lessen attention from the public to this aspect of the story. The only thing "local" about it was/is that a "local" editorial editor of the News-Leader chose a side in his coverage.

I guess I just can't understand why Eckersley's word seemed to be given so much more credence by Tony Messenger than various members of the Blunt administration's word. Rather than stepping back and reporting events as they have unfolded there seemed to be a readiness on the part of some to pick a side and support it, as if it was a foregone conclusion that those in the Blunt administration were/are simply liars and Eckersley's word was above reproach, there was little question raised, locally, about the credibility of Eckersley and how reliable this disgruntled, fired employee's word really was, or is.

Messenger wrote today:

"This story never had to be public. Depending on how you interpret Jared Craighead comments, this is either more evidence that Eckersley was doing everything he could to make the story go away, or it might in some respects make Eckersley look bad for trying to "extort" a job.

None of that matters in the big picture of course."

Sorry, I don't buy it. Credibility does matter. Is Tony trying to make excuses for his approach to covering this issue? According to Messenger what matters is:

"...our governor's office horribly botching a personnel situation and using taxpayer dollars to coordinate a campaign to discredit one individual, AND continue to refuse to follow the state Sunshine Law that allows for accountability in these situations."

Just because he says so.

The Sunshine law should be respected by the Governor's office, the Governor's administration and the people who work within it, that much we know.

Blogger Note: excerpts from AP story purposely one sided to make an editorial point.

No comments: