If you are looking for examples of unprofessional "journalism" you could conduct a clinic on the hit piece that the Republic's Rob O'Dell just published about Senator Jeff Dial. Here are three examples of unprofessional tricks that O'Dell uses to take on Dial.
Self Debunking Innuendo:
O'Dell wants you to think that Dial lied about or otherwise exaggerated his record. That's why he gives us this ominous first sentence:
State Sen. Jeff Dial touted his military service during successful campaigns...
O'Dell adds this: Gov. Jan Brewer endorsed him as a "veteran of the Armed Forces." And he serves on the Legislature's veterans caucus
OK. This looks serious. Dial has claimed he is a veteran. Governor Brewer referred to him as a veteran and he attends the legislature's "Veteran Caucus."
Now here's the incredible part. At the bottom of the story, O'Dell concedes that Dial IS a veteran. The implication that what Dial and Brewer said is somehow inaccurate is just something that O'Dell made up.
The Passive Voice Trick:
O'Dell doesn't have a source for the story. It is O'Dell who is questioning Dial's service. That's why the story is full of references like this one:
State Sen. Jeff Dial campaigned as a military veteran but now his record is being questioned
O'Dell doesn't even have an anonymous source. O'Dell IS the source. No one is actually questioning Dial's service---except O'Dell.
The editors compound this mistake when they add subheads like the one I listed above. Take a look at it again.
State Sen. Jeff Dial campaigned as a military veteran but now his record is being questioned.
O'Dell and the editor combine these to phrases to make it looks like Dial claimed to be a veteran but now people are question whether he told the truth. That implication is simply a lie. O'Dell admits that Dial is a veteran and the only one asking questions is O'Dell.
Here's the part that's truly outrageous. While O'Dell is implying that Dial exaggerated his record, if you read closely, O'Dell is actually questioning the quality of Dial's service. O'Dell admits that Dial enlisted, went through Basic Training, and was active for four years. Dial had a problem with is weight and was no longer able to keep up the physical routine and was placed in the reserve for four additional years and then was honorably discharged. O'Dell is claiming that this is not adequate service.
Seriously? How many Americans make this type of commitment? How many even enlist? How many Americans can stay in good enough physical shape to remain on active duty? Frankly, O'Dell is mocking Dial for being overweight. Let that sink in a moment. Dial eventually couldn't keep up with his unit and that's what this article is about. Now take a look at the AzCentral clip and ask yourself how long it would take Rob O'Dell to run a mile? I don't know, maybe O'Dell is one of the 1% who signed up. Maybe he's an ex Marine. Maybe O'Dell is a marathon runner disguised by a couple thousand Crispy Cremes.
Or maybe O'Dell is mocking Dial for making a commitment that O'Dell himself would never make. Maybe he is mocking Dial for not maintaining a physical form that O'Dell himself long ago failed to achieve.
Maybe O'Dell is just a deeply bitter and cynical guy who mocks someone who is actually in the arena, someone who actually enlisted and served and was discharged honorably.
Something that O'Dell never did and could never hope to do.
Here are some thoughts about Ann Kirkpatrick's to challenge McCain:
First, the big winner is Kyrsten Sinema. I know that's counter intuitive, but in a race against McCain, Kirkpatrick and Sinema would both struggle for name ID and media coverage. Just remember how much Fred Duval struggled to get coverage during the Gubernatorial Election. But if they run against each other, they will have a really interesting, high profile primary that will be worth millions to the ultimate winner. So if Sinema was considering running, the odds just moved more in her favor.
Second, I don't think this is a sign of a thin bench. Yes, the Dems have a thin bench and while some of that is due to Napolitano abandoning the Arizona Democratic Party, much of it is also do to the fact that the Dems have been wiped out nationally. However, Kirkpatrick is a sitting multi-term Congresswoman and can't be described as a weak candidate. She may get crushed, but that's because McCain is a very strong candidate.
If you want an indication of how thin the Democratic Bench is, look towards the candidates who try to replace her...someone from the Flagstaff City Council is probably the Dem's best shot. Now THATS a thin bench.
Third. Kirkpatrick's run against McCain is a long shot, so it would seem that she isn't too optimistic about retaining her seat in 2016. She may be looking at the redistricting case and see that she's likely to be in a less favorable district, but I think it's more likely that she realizes that even in the same district and even in a Presidential election year, the Democratic brand is so tarnished that she would have trouble retaining her seat. So why not go out in a blaze of glory?
My prediction is that she loses to McCain and is replaced by a Republican--but that's not a very bold prediction.
The demise of big city print media, displayed in full by the painfully slow sale of the mammoth New York Daily News, is going nationwide as ad sales decline 50 percent and circulation plummets, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis
According to their report, "The Declining Value Of U.S. Newspapers," just three different media companies in 2014 alone decided to dump more than 100 newspaper properties. Pew said the companies spun off the money-losing properties "in large part to protect their still-robust broadcast or digital divisions."
This story is big in DC and despite the fact that the amendment was sponsored by an AZ Congressman, I haven't seen any local coverage.
The House voted to strip language from the National Defense Authorization Act that would have called on the Pentagon to consider allowing illegal immigrants granted executive amnesty — via Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)— to serve in the U.S. military.
Last week, there was interesting Wall Street Journal Op Ed exploring the religious aspects of Climate Change. One of the key characteristics of a religion is the Statement of Faith. Believers must confess that they believe certain fundamental truths in order to be accepted into the congregation. So it's not enough to do good deeds, and have all the outward appearance of a believer, you must confess that you believe the fundamental beliefs of that particular religion.
While it doesn't surprise me that the Climate Change faithful demand the same sort of adherence to dogma that one normally sees in churches, I am somewhat surprised at the degree to which the media participate in the catechism.
Take this tweet from Howie Fischer as an example.
There are three things to notice about this tweet. First is my point about Statement of Faith. It's not good enough that Ducey works for a better environment, he must share the underlying belief system. The righteous deeds of the unrighteous avail nothing.
The second thing to notice is that Howie is creating his own news. Howie was covering a briefing about the upcoming fire season, but he wasn't interested in covering the actual news, he wanted to make up his own news. So Howie did what Howie always does....throw out a series of bait questions and see if the elected official responds to one of them. Just like they teach you in J School.
The third thing to notice is that the media who demand adherence to what amounts to secular dogma have no sense of irony. On the day that Howie's article appeared, this story ran in the Republic.
Maybe Ducey should ask Howie why the grapes froze. Nothing says global warming like a late freeze ruining your wine crop. Of course, the Climate Change Dogma states that climate is not weather, so these late freezes are meaningless. That's another irony, because those who point out that frozen grapes have nothing to do with climate change...will claim that dry forests ARE a product of climate change so weather is climate after all.
“It makes no sense to me that, at the same time the Army is downsizing and issuing pink slips to American soldiers serving in Afghanistan, there are Congressmen who help illegal aliens deprive American citizens of military service opportunities.
“It’s appalling that some members of the Republican conference, and frankly all members of the Democratic conference, place illegal immigrants on pedestals over American citizens, contrary to the needs andwishes of the American people.
“Illegal aliens are already taking jobs from and suppressing the wages of struggling American families in the private job market. Now Democrats and wayward Republicans are similarly and actively undermining Americans’ opportunities to serve in the military.
“It is no wonder that, in the face of such economic hostility emanating from Washington, America’s youth are too often despondent and all-to-willing to express their dissatisfaction via arson, assaults, riots, and other forms of criminal conduct.”
Sadly, as the party atmosphere of Super Bowl descends on the Valley, the perception that sexually exploiting children is part of a "having a good time" may make child prostitution even more profitable for the pimps. The Justice Department reports that "pimp-controlled" sexual exploitation of children is linked to major sporting and recreational events, conventions and tourist destinations.
The Super Bowl, which will take place at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale in 2015, has become the biggest human-trafficking event of the year in the United States, experts told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday.
And here's the third one:
"Widely attended events like the Super Bowl coming up in Glendale, Arizona, or the annual gem show in Tucson act like a magnet for traffickers, and unfortunately, their victims."
So what's different? The content is essentially the same. Let's consider the sources...the first one is a Republic Editorial from 2008. The second one is from a Republic Article from 2014. The third one was spoken by Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally on the floor of the House of Representatives in January.
What's different? Well, the first two appeared in the Republic without controversy, but the Republic Fact Checkers declared McSally's statement "Mostly False One Star."
Seriously, McSally made the same statement that the Republic used its own editorial, and then the Republic declared her statement to be false.
To be clear, I think all three statements are false. In fact, there are hundreds of examples folks quoting this urban legend---42 references in Republic articles alone--and they are all false. So why do the "Fact Checkers" descend on McSally but don't bother to correct the Republic Editorial Board or Dan Nowicki?
Well, I would argue that the Republic's Michael Squires is using the Fact Check section as a tool in his personal war against Republican elected officials. If you come up with a better theory, please let me know.
Here's a classic example of how a reporter can write a "story" that is actually hit piece in disguise. Check out this lede and see if you can spot the tricks.
State Sen. Kelli Ward announced her U.S. Senate exploratory committee to supporters this month through a mass e-mail that featured a photo of her seated in her state Senate office, raising questions about whether the fundraising appeal violated an Arizona law that prohibits the use of public resources to influence an election.
Notice the passive voice in the term "raising questions". Who is "raising questions"? Whenever you see a phrase like this or "critics argue" you know that it is the reporter himself who is creating the story. There's no outcry--either Reporter Dan Nowicki saw the picture and decided to write the story, or more likely some anonymous person who isn't a Kelli Ward fan, forwarded him the email. At which point, Nowicki used the "raising questions" ploy to gin up a controversy.
Now check out this paragraph considerably further down in the article.
A state Capitol lobbyist alerted The Arizona Republic to what appeared to be a breach of a time-honored protocol in which legislators avoided the use of state House or Senate facilities in their campaign activities.
Hmm, now we have a little more info. We know that the original source is an anonymous lobbyist. Now we can see why Nowicki buried this info deep in the story. Obviously if he had written that "A lobbyist who asked not to be identified sent me an email in which Kelli Ward is at her desk...." If Nowicki had disclosed his source early in the piece then readers would have had the information they needed to disregard the piece immediately. Reporters know that the best defense for this type of story is for the target to say "consider the source", so Nowicki hides the source as long as he can.
By the way, what's the Republic's policy on anonymous sources? If Nowicki were to tell us who this anonymous lobbyist is, it's a pretty safe bet that he/she is a McCain supporter who has had run ins with Ward. Of course, we will never now because we started with "raises questions" and moved on to anonymous lobbyist, but we don't learn any more.
This trick is effective because many people will just look at the headline and the first paragraph and will be fooled.
Did you catch the next trick? What did the opening paragraph say the issue was? It questions whether she "violated a state law..." But that's not what the "lobbyist alerted..." paragraph says now is it? The later paragraph says that she "appeared to be a breach of a time-honored protocol..."
Wow, is that enough weasel words for you? It's not a law, it's a "protocol". And she didn't "violate" like it says in the first paragraph, she "appeared to breach."
So I guess that entire first paragraph was pretty much just BS. We went from "violating laws"...to appeared to breach a time-honored protocol. The story unravels as it goes.
Of course, Nowiki is also just making up the "time-honored protocol." Which is pretty easy since "time-honored protocols" aren't written down, so making them up and giving them an official sounding title is pretty easy. Here's a great picture of Rebecca Rios' on the floor of the House. You can find it on her campaign website. I guess you aren't really violating that time-honored protocol unless you are thinking about running against John McCain.
The next thing to notice is that Nowicki knows that the photo isn't illegal because he called the Secretary of State's office and they described the use of state property as "incidental."
Here's a fun analysis, think about the time line of the story. My guess is that Nowicki wrote the lede paragraph and then called the Secretary of State who deflated the whole story by pointing out that this was merely incidental use of state property that is not covered by the law. By then, Nowicki had so much invested in the piece already that he invented the term "time-honored protocol" and put it above the point in the story where he admitted that the conduct wasn't illegal.
Naturally, what a real reporter would have done was answer the lobbyist's call and point out that the lobbyist has an axe to grind, won't allow his name to be used, and is complaining about an incidental use of state resources that is both common and legal.
That would be actual reporting. But it's a lot less fun than writing hit pieces--especially when you are such a big John McCain fan.