One of the unintended consequences of the Internet, talk radio and cable "news" is that people can spend all day following only the news that reinforces their current views. This is called confirmation bias. Naturally, some columnists get lazy and only make arguments that appeal to their base. There's not a lot of work in that. That's why I was so impressed with this column in which Joanna Allhands pointed out "The Lunacy of an Assault Rifle Ban." Not only was the article well reasoned, but it was not what I expected. It's one of the few columns that actually surprised me.
Contrast that with the Republic's EJ Montini who has given up trying to make actual arguments and simply blows whatever dog whistle appeals to what's left of his readership. In Montini's most recent column he quotes John McCain's reaction to the Orlando attack.
“He (President Obama) pulled everybody out of Iraq, and I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked, and there would be attacks on the United States of America. It’s a matter of record, so he is directly responsible.”
That's certainly and provocative statement, but it reflects a widely held view and very few people are as expert on foreign policy as Senator McCain. I look forward to reading Montini's counterargument.
That's going to be a long wait. Montini doesn't even bother to make a counterargument. He simply uses an Ad Hominem fallacy and ridicules McCain.
It's an embarrassment that a senior American politician would say such a thing.
Well there you have it...not much of an argument. Montini goes on to call McCain "petty" and "small".
What's really embarrassing is that the Republic has a six-figure columnist who either doesn't understand that insults are not a form of argument--or who has simply given up on actually making arguments.
After all, that dog whistle isn't going to blow itself
I've long argued that Republic Fact Checks are actually disguised opinion pieces. Here's just one example from the archives in which Congressman Schweikert pointed out that we are seeing a spike in illegal immigration and the fact checker conceded that the fact was right.
However, the checker only gave Schweikert two stars because he wasn't "telling the whole story".
THE COMMENT: “We are seeing a big spike in illegal immigration.”
Here's the conclusion.
Bottom line: While Schweikert is correct in saying that there has been a spike in undocumented border crossings, he isn’t telling the whole story.
The "whole story" is actually an argument by Republic Political Editor Michael Squires and Reporter Daniel Gonzalez about the implications of Schweikert's correct fact. They are not checking his facts, they are rebutting his argument. The Fact Check is actually an OP ED opposing Schweikert's position on immigration issues. Squires and Gonzalez, of course, are free to make counter arguments, but it's not ok to disguise those arguments as "Fact Checks", give them the subhead "Keeping Arizona Honest" and put them in the news section of the Sunday Republic.
So I was quite pleased this morning when the Republic reprinted a national "Fact Check" story and gave it the proper placement.
That's exactly right.
Let's hope the Republic starts putting its own Fact Checks/Counter Arguments were they belong.
Miss Arizona, Katelyn Niemiec is making the rounds in Washington. She has posted some of the pictures on her Facebook page. Here are a couple that I thought were interesting, but I may have weak WIFI because I'm not sure some of them are copied correctly.
I've been getting plenty of feedback over yesterday's post in which I pointed out that Rebekah Sanders' story about Congressional Candidate David Giles fundamentally misrepresented his campaign spending.
I've also had plenty of feedback on the recent post in which I argued that not only does Arizona Journalism oftentimes not live up the standards of the Journalism profession, but also that journalists have a responsibility to police their own profession. And while you might argue that--journalism ethics aside--Howie Fischer, Dennis Welch or Tim Steller do not have a responsibility to point out the lapses of Republic reporters like Rebekah Sanders, I would hope that you agree that the Republic should hold its own reporters to a basic standard of accuracy and fairness.
With that in mind, let's revisit a post that I wrote in the wake of the 2014 election cycle in which I argue that Rebekah Sanders repeatedly misrepresented an interview that Congressional Candidate Gary Kiehne conducted with the Arizona Republic editorial Board.
Here is the post in which I show the original Kiehne quote and show how in subsequent stories Sanders changed the quote in order to claim that Kiehne advocated for the outrageous proposition that he only supported federal programs that would benefit him. Kiehne, for his part, repeatedly denied that this was his position and reminded Sanders that he had never said the words that she was attributing to him.
If you click the above link to my September 04, 2014 story you will see what Kiehne actually said and how Sanders morphed the quote over the election cycle in order to create false stories about Kiehne.
Kiehne spend $400,000 on the race and lost by 324 votes. Upon reading the post, I believe that you will agree with my conclusion that Sanders' attribution of the fake quote and outrageous position to Kiehne cost him the election.
I also believe that you will also understand why it is so important for David Giles to correct the false impression that Sanders created in the article about his campaign spending. Giles is in danger of being branded and mocked as the "White Teeth" candidate as a result of poor reporting by Sanders and extensive follow up mockery by the likes of EJ Montini, Laurie Roberts and Brahm Resnik.
It's been nearly two years since I published and tweeted the original post to Rebekah Sanders...with no response. Perhaps the new Publisher Mi-Ai Parrish, Political Editor Michael Squires or News Watchdog reporter Cherrill Crosby would care to discuss.
Pop Quiz: Let's say that you are incumbent Congressman from a safe district and you chair some obscure subcommittee that has an outsized effect on some niche industry. Question: What does that make you? Answer: Rich but frustrated.
Congressional representatives tend to accumulate tons of campaign funds that they really don't need and can't effectively spend. Meanwhile, they are scraping by on $174,000 while they have this pot of $500,000 just sitting in the bank.
What's a frustrated Congressman to do? Employ this one slick trick: Use the campaign money to buy stuff that you would normally buy with personal money. Need a haircut? Campaign expense. Need a new wardrobe...car, camping gear, motor home, hunting rifle, updo for that big dinner? Campaign, campaign, campaign and campaign.
Unfortunately for Congressmen, the Federal Elections Commission has figured this little scam out and watches to ensure that Congressmen aren't converting campaign funds to personal use.
Question 2: Let's say that you are a successful insurance salesman, software engineer, racecar driver, lawyer or whatever and decide to run for Congress and you invest $200,000 in your race. Do you have to disclose that? Absolutely.
Next Question: What if you have an extra conference room in your insurance office and you let the volunteers use it in order to make calls and assemble literature. Do you have to disclose that? Yes.
Why? Because a self funded-candidate is motivated to convert PERSONAL resources into CAMPAIGN resources and not disclose it.
How about if you buy a new wardrobe, get your teeth whitened and buy a security system in order to run for office. Do you need to disclose that? Probably not. But since you purchased those things in order to run for office and since you are a self-funding candidate, it would be more honest, more fair and safer if you disclose that you spent money on those items in order to run for office. After all, there's no penalty for over disclosure....
Well, actually, there is a penalty for over disclosure. The penalty is public humiliation from the pen of the Republic's Rebekah Sanders and her (very) hands off Editor Michael Squires.
Since Sanders doesn't understand the principles behind the rules and since Squires isn't paying attention, self funding Congressional Candidate David Giles took the safe route and over-reported his expenses but endures a front page article that makes it look like he converted campaign funds for personal use.
Wow. How embarrassing, he used campaign money for....wait a second. The money was his money to begin with. Giles didn't convert campaign money to personal use, he over-disclosed money that he spent on personal things because he wanted people to know exactly how much he was really spending on his campaign. Too open and honest by half.
Since Sanders doesn't seem to know what she's doing and since Squires is looking for Pokémon Go clues on his smart phone, Giles paid a heavy price for his extra honesty.