Sunday, August 16, 2015

When did you stop beating your wife?

I'm sure everyone remembers that old joke about misdirection and innuendo, which came to mind recently when I read an article by Courier Journal political reporter Joe Gerth, who recently wrote an article about gubernatorial candidates Jack Conway and Matt Bevin attending a private meeting being sponsored by the Kentucky Coal Association which excludes the media (specifically the CJ).
Even the date, time and location are something of a secret. The hosts of the meeting said that the absence of the media would encourage a more open and honest debate between the candidates and the association, which is what they want given the precarious status of coal these days. They went to claim that the presence of the media would hinder the ability of the candidates to provide blunt and direct answers without the media attempting to their answers (or the other candidate) out of context. Mr. Gerth even insisted that since the media (read "Courier Journal") were not invited, both candidates should boycott the debate. He then went on to take umbrage regarding the Republican candidate, Matt Bevin, who refused to answer questions from reporter because of the alleged nature and tone of those questions, which he---Bevin---deemed as unfair or biased. Given the climate of today's politics and lack of impartiality from the media, perhaps Matt Bevin was justified. Just look at the latest Republican debate hosted by the supposedly "fair and balanced" as well as "conservative" Fox News and note the differences in questioning between the status quo GOP candidates and Donald Trump (especially the questions from Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly).

In what's the worse kept secret in Kentucky, the CJ has often been accused of acting as the unofficial mouthpiece for the Democratic Party. It's so bad that it's become part of local lore and the butt of countless jokes. For years the CJ editorial staff has black listed me ever since I began reviewing and critiquing their "endorsement" process. Previously, they published practically everything I wrote---sometimes in separate box with an illustration added---and even gave me the byline at the top of the Editorial page! Then after I began questioning their process the only way I could give my opinion was on their online site, which was generally deleted. So I or someone else had to "like" my comment to avoid it's near immediate deletion. On the upside, one of my "demands" was to publish the entire unedited transcript of the endorsement interview or at least video tape it and make either available to the public, which the Courier Journal is at least occasionally doing now.

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not implying anything about Joe. He's a great guy and a pretty darn good reporter. Personally, I haven't had any problems with him and Joe isn't involved with his newspaper's "endorsement" process so far as I know . However, too many
times I heard stories from conservative candidates who claimed answers were wrongly attributed, misquoted, or "correct" answers or "wrong" answers deleted for the opponent not to mention endorsement made without so much as an interview---phone or in person--or
familiarity with a candidate's positions! I was never really sure if I should believe any of this until it happened to me well as to personal friends of impeccable character who were running for office, but apparently on the wrong ticket. That's not how you go about trying to find the right person for political office or any job for that matter (the other part of my "demand" by the way has been to publish the names, titles, and party registration of the interviewers so the public knows the political leanings of the questioners, the nature of questions themselves, and maybe understand why endorsements often go the way they do. The voters deserve better. Now, it seems that some folks like me, who openly challenge them, can't even doing that. So, here's my comment that would have otherwise been directed to the article:

I've always thought candidates should respond to the press with direct and honest answers to honest and direct questions. However, when the media puts itself into the active role of trying to create the news or manipulate public opinion, candidates have a civic duty to either call that reporter, editor or manager out or by simply declining to answer the question after explaining to those present why and then moving on to the next reporter who will be hopefully "fair, balanced and honest". Of course, candidates shouldn't assume every question they don't like is necessarily biased. That's just as unfair to the public. Questions should be relevant to the race and issues being discussed.

Naturally the media has ways around that such as the innuendo. Fortunately there are some candidates, like "The Donald", who couldn't care less what the media pundits have to say and has the wherewithal to give as good as they're giving as well as having the financial means to respond to any attacks or negative reporting. Bevin may or may not have the bank account to get out his version of the truth in response to any media attacks, though I have no doubt that he and his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, have the financial ability to get their message out against each other (if not them directly, then certainly the partisan oriented PACs do). From the content of Mr. Gerth's article, I have no difficulty understanding Bevin's decision not to respond. Nevertheless, perhaps other candidates of either political party might want to follow suit and demand honest and impartial reporting without the misdirection. Maybe someone will get the message.

Gov. candidates should demand open coal debate

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