1. How about misrepresenting a source? Scroll down one post and you see how the Intelligencer cherry picks its quotes. An isolated incident? Hardly -- see posts on December 20 and February 21, for example.2. How about lying about what a source says? Go to a December 20 post about a prevailing wage editorial ("How low can they go?") in which the Intelligencer claims a study found that the prevailing wage cost West Virginian $224 million in one year. If you actually go to the study you'll find that the study was about Michigan; West Virginia is not mentioned anywhere in the report. But that didn't stop the editorial writer from telling us about how the prevailing wage had cost West Virginians so dearly. (Who's going to actually bother to check, right Michael?)3. What about editing out of Associated Press articles material which didn't agree with their biases? In the most egregious example last year, they edited out polls from an AP report that a majority of both Democrats and Republicans believed in limiting greenhouse gases? (See my post of June 10 in the old section.) And how about dropping the last couple of paragraphs which criticized Republicans in another AP story after the most recent inaugural address in January?4. How about refusing to carry stories about climate change? When the most important study of climate change in 2014 was released, neither paper carried the story (see March 26). When the largest worldwide rally on climate change took place last September most papers featured previews and then published long AP stories on their front pages about the event with pictures. The locals ignored all of this except for a couple of paragraphs about it on an inside page.5. How about plagiarism - stealing from another source without proper attribution. Check the April 2 post below titled "Plagiarism."
We draw a hard line between our news pages and those on which we as an institution and as individual writers provide our opinions.
Here at the Wheeling News-Register and The Intelligencer, we make our money by selling a single product to readers: trust.
West Liberty University President Robin C. Capehart Resigns
Facing ethics charge, Capehart resigns as president of WLU
West Liberty University president resigns amid ethics probe
West Liberty President Resigns Amid Ethics Review
Capehart has new job at WLU
From time to time, the Sunday News-Register gives us an extended interview with a newsmaker in something called "Sunday Sit-Down." These interviews have two things in common: the newsmaker is one whose message the "newspaper" almost always agrees with, and consequently, the interviewed is never asked even a semi-tough question. A recent list of those interviewed include: local university presidents, Catholic Schools Superintendent Vince Schmidt and Senator Joe Manchin. (The only person interviewed in the last year that surprised me was Rodney Bartgis from the Nature Conservancy. Even so, the published interview, with the exception of one edited answer, avoided the issue of climate change.) In these interviews, the questions that are asked usually resemble softballs although occasionally something about the size of a watermelon is also tossed.
My "favorite" sit-down interview was with WV Supreme Court of Appeals Judge Brent Benjamin in March 2013. Benjamin was first elected in 2004 when his candidacy was the beneficiary of Massey Coal’s Don Blankenship’s $3 million dollars campaign contribution aimed at defeating his opponent, Warren McGraw. Not surprisingly, Benjamin would later be in the 2-1 majority that reversed an earlier large financial judgment against Massey. (The U.S. Supreme Court would later reverse the decision and Justice Kennedy would label this conflict of interest "extreme.") Yes, this could have formed the basis for a number of excellent questions in the interview but it didn’t happen. Instead, we got just the opposite. For example, Benjamin answers the question: What about the public's perception of the court?
Benjamin: I think there was a concern for a long time that it mattered, in many cases, who was in front of the court rather than what their case was when it came to their case being adjudicated. Now people have seen that judges decide cases on a case-by-case basis, they apply the law, there's a lot more stability and predictability in how we decide cases, we use precedent.
Wouldn’t that have been an excellent moment to ask Benjamin about his vote in the Blankenship case? Of course it would have been if the paper was trying to inform the public instead of just giving Benjamin a public forum and some publicity.
The pattern continues with today’s interview of State Republican Chairman Robin Lucas – he’s a friendly source and so he gets softball questions and no follow-ups on any of his assertions. An example:
Has anyone done a spending breakdown on the legislative races? Were Republicans outspent, or vice versa? Or was spending fairly even?
Lucas: We're always outspent. We're used to that. There are a few different ways to look at it. You have to look at the candidates themselves, the parties, and then the outside groups that have already disclosed and the outside groups that haven't.
Lucas later hedges what he has asserted but is not pressed on any of it. I checked (something the interviewer could also have done) and the WV state legislative spending numbers are still incomplete. If the numbers aren’t out there, how would Lucas know what the Democrats and Republicans spent on local elections? This question wasn’t meant to elicit a real answer; it was asked to allow Lucas an opportunity to assert anything he pleased – in this case, how Republicans triumphed even though they were "outspent" by the Democrats.
Here’s a final thought for the News-Register. Why don’t you invite the Chairman of the Democratic Party for a Sunday Sit-Down about this election and toss him some softballs? I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be interested.
Liberals are at it again
Okay, folks, a show of hands - who didn’t think this was coming? Yesterday’s lead editorial tells us that "Liberals Go All Out for Control." Since we’ve seen slightly different forms of this editorial/Myer’s column many times before, I’ll try to keep it relatively brief. It begins:
Independent liberal organizations are going all-out - both in spending and character assassination - in an attempt to keep Republicans from taking control of the West Virginia House of Delegates.
While they normally support Democrat candidates, their campaign this year is especially harsh, well-funded and comprehensive. It often uses mudslinging advertising directed against Republican candidates for the House.
1. the headline is funny and an insult to the reader’s intelligence – it’s only liberals who are going all out for control. I guess Republicans would never want control unless they won it in a genteel and dignified manner.
2. As I argued last week, calling someone or some group a "mudslinger" without telling us what they said and why it’s an example of mudslinging is just another form of mudslinging.
3. Without any evidence, the editorial tells us that it is liberals that are doing this. I guess for its core audience, calling someone a liberal is like calling someone a communist sixty years ago – we don’t need proof but we just know it’s bad. (And of course, it could never be considered "mudslinging.")
4. Since the editorial mentions only Democratic groups that are putting money into various campaigns, we can assume that Republicans would never let some outside group run negative ads against Democrats. Yeah, right – this took all of two minutes to find (in the conservative Charleston Daily Mail of all places):
West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse has spent almost $202,000, mostly on mailings attacking Democrats and boosting Republicans. The group fault Democrats for taking campaign cash from trial lawyers. Del. Tim Manchin, D-Marion, is facing $20,800 worth of advertising attacks from the group.
And of course, none of these Republican-supporting groups would ever break the law:
Also Thursday, Hensley filed election complaints against Grow West Virginia Inc. and Campaign for Liberty, two political action committees targeting Democrats running for House and Senate seats.
Grow West Virginia PAC has spent more than $100,000 on direct mailers and ads to oust Democrats in recent weeks, but hasn’t filed any reports with the Secretary of State’s Office since Oct. 14, Hensley’s complaint alleges. (Hensley is caucus director for the House Democratic Legislative Committee.)
Both the editorial and the Myer column would have you believe that only Democrats use outside money to attack their opponents even though they know that’s not true. It doesn’t bother them because they have an election to win. For the propagandist, truth is irrelevant - the ends justify the means.