Have you seen the latest media feeding frenzy? Senator Don Shooter--a Republican from YUMA--drives a lot. Wow, stop the presses.
The story and subsequent frenzy tells us more about the state of the media than it does about Senator Shooter's driving habits. I think the lessons fall into four categories; the frenzy is: Sloppy, Trivial, Partisan and Amateur.
The first lesson is the media sloppiness--after all, the story is meaningless unless Senator Shooter lied about his mileage. Think about it. Senator Shooter's district goes from roughly Avondale west to California and south to Mexico. So it's not surprising that Shooter would drive a lot of miles to perform his legislative duties and it's not surprising that he would have a lot of campaign miles as well.
There's also no question that Sen. Shooter should be reimbursed for both his legislative miles and his campaign miles. So the media frenzy is based on the fact that it seems like he drove a lot more miles than is reasonable. That's journalism? They are in effect saying: "Golly, it seems like the guy whose district is larger than some states has claimed more mileage than he should have."
The is trivia. Let's say that Don Shooter exaggerated his mileage. I have no idea if that's true or not--and neither does Laurie Roberts. But assuming it's true... is that the biggest story you can find in the Legislature? The media love to write little gotcha stories about trivial issues that are easy to understand. Remember the story of CPS not investigating 6,000 cases? Did you notice that part of the CPS defense was that those cases had been listed in the CPS public reports for years. Where was Laurie Roberts when that was happening?
The third issue you need to notice in stories like this one is Partisanship. Don Shooter is a Republican. Several years ago I broke the story of Senator Pete Rios who claimed thousands of dollars of state mileage reimbursement for trips from his "session" home in Apache Junction to this trailer in Duddlyville. So even though his kids went to school in Apache Junction and even though he had a nice little house in Apache Junction, he claimed that the state needed to reimburse him for staying every weekend in this beat up trailer parked on a friend's property in Duddlyville.
The story is much less credible than Shooter's mileage. And it's a bigger story; if Rios was lying about his mileage, then that is a felony. But no story. Ever. Even when the case was turned over to the Attorney General, there was no story. There still hasn't been a story. Rios made these claims for YEARS.
The fourth issue is Amateur Hour. As you know, the media are trying to do more and more with less and less. The top guys at the Republic are also asking reporters to provide video for every story. These two trends intersect with a hilarious story by Channel 12 reporter in which Dana files the story as a selfie video. Seriously folks? Have the media sunk so low that we have a reporter filming himself with an iPhone while he runs through a parking lot to chase a State Senator who might have exaggerated his mileage?
Sloppy, trivial, partisan and amateur...that pretty much sums up the state of the media.