Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bang your forehead against the wall and what do you get? A bloody forehead

Its been one of those weeks where no matter how hard I try not to get pissed off at local media, its apparently unavoidable. I've considered that it might be part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy's master plan to push me over the edge in an attempt to thwart my modest efforts here. Or perhaps Bill Sizemore has finally taken over the state via ballot measure fiat and local newspapers were folded in to sweeten the deal.

First there was the mystery meat equivalent of emailing local print media mini-mogul Dwight Jaynes. Then there's TJ's own bloody forehead courtesy of the Oregonian, which he deftly replies to below.

And now its another email exchange, this time between myself and Gresham Outlook Publisher Mark Garber. I emailed Garber to let him know that I had blogged about the editorial in his paper. I wrote to him thusly:

Dear Mr. Garber:

I wrote a blog post today taking umbrage with the editorial in the Gresham Outlook regarding the Minnis-Brading issue.

There is definitive evidence that at least one individual paid by the Minnis Campaign helped to draft the language in the mailing that went out against Brading:

In addition, another of Minnis' closest advisors (I don't know if he's paid by Minnis or not) also helped to draft the mailer. This information comes from an interview with (name withheld) of Friends for Safer Libraries that was conducted in conjunction with the blog piece I wrote. Janie Har from the Oregonian also investigated this and wrote it up as well.

I believe that the editorial that was published in the Outlook is incorrect and that your paper owes Rob Brading an apology.


I'm so fucking polite, aren't I?

Garber replied rather quickly. I don't know if he's got so many emails that he's drafted a canned response or if he's a kick ass typist. But here it is:

Hi Carla:
The editorial clearly stated that people sympathetic to Minnis were
responsible for the piece. It also said that the charges against Brading
were ridiculous. The purpose of the editorial was to caution both sides
against going down the negative road they went down in 2004.
I have no confidence that either side will pay heed to that advice.
However, your conclusion that the editorial was an attack on Brading is
inaccurate. I have a lot of respect for Rob and in fact serve on the
Library Advisory Board with him.
I think you are viewing this through a partisan prism, whereas I'm trying
to maintain a sense of balance.
I interviewed Manning, who said she never spoke with or met Minnis. I
interviewed Minnis, who said that she had nothing to do with the piece in
question. Unless you want to accuse her of lying, the fact that two of her
allies are involved doesn't change my conclusion that she wasn't
personally responsible, which are the words I used in the editorial. Rob
chose to elevate the issue now so that he could dispense with it early in
the campaign. That may yet prove to be smart political strategy, but it
probably won't sit well with supporters of the library, who are trying to
pass a levy in November and would have preferred that this issue not be
raised to this threshold.
Although we spliced it for the web site, the editorial was part of a
longer piece that dealt with negative campaigning in general.
It is somewhat amusing to be accused of having a conservative bias, since
90 percent of the time our readers accuse us of the opposite.
Anyway, I did enjoy your blog entry.
Best regards,
Mark Garber

I'm not sure where I accused the guy of having a conservative bias. But maybe my why-are-you-ignoring-obvious-direct-connections-to-Minnis-which-are-right-in-front-of-your-face hit a nerve. Only Mark can say for certain.

By this time, its pretty obvious that I'm banging my head against a wall with this person. But not being one to let a cracked skull get me down, I've pushed on:

Dear Mr. Garber:

Thank you very much for your reply. I'm sure your office gets lots of emails. I appreciate you taking the time to give me such a detailed response.

While I understand that the editorial was framed to suggest the mailing went out from people sympathetic to Minnis, its very clear from my research that this goes much deeper than that. These are not just folks who support her.

Chuck Adams is paid by the Minnis Campaign and has been in her employ for quite some time. Mr. Adams is directly responsible for drafting the mailing. Adams put together a PAC just last cycle to make the exact same accusations against Brading--while under the employ of the Minnis Campaign. And somehow back then Minnis didn't know about it either. Weird coincidental pattern, eh?

Tim Nashtif is a long term advisor to the Minnis Campaign as well--and is also directly responsible for drafting the mailing. These aren't part of an independent group.

Either Minnis knew all about this and is lying or she is unaware of what her closest campaign workers and advisors are doing to smear her opponent. If she is unaware of this very public smearing--what else are they doing that she's unaware of? Neither scenario is especially comforting.

In addition if Minnis is not personally involved, why is she refusing to condemn such scurrilous attacks against her opponent--despite the fact that last cycle she apologized for these same attacks (conveniently after the election ended)?

I also understand that you would like to see less negative campaigning. Unfortunately, negative campaigning has been shown to be highly effective. Until the voters decide that they'll stop electing candidates who campaign this way, it will continue. Chastizing the candidates won't end this practice.

I sincerely hope that you consider a deeper investigation on this matter. Its unfortunate when local papers allow such campaigning to go on without reporting the full story.


No reply yet. But I don't expect The Mountain to move. Not many local print media figures that I've dealt with are in any hurry to gobble down their deserved plate of crow.

In the meantime, I've got to go ice my bloody forehead.