Sunday, February 29, 2004

If God had wanted us to subscribe He would have given us a [real] newspaper

Arggh. Yesterday's editorial in The Union (to paraphrase: "All the candidates are competent but a couple of them played dirty by pointing out that their respective main opponents are a) funded by development interests and b) two-faced") was a bit over the top (as was this post, 24 hrs ago; italics indicate further editing)

For background info, Friday article: Beason: Diaz got negative (not "Diaz: Beason is negative"?):
Recent rain showers in Nevada County moistened the earth and left plenty of mud for slinging ...
[Diaz's campaign sent out a mailer covering ground similar to the Straight Talk post below - and no, I had no idea it was coming]

[Diaz:] "I have conducted my campaign on three principles: Say what is in your heart, run on what you believe, and let the people know what the other guy is doing."

The mailer says Beason claims to be "a man who listens to both sides and tries to find common ground (but) his own words tell a different story."
It's a pity The Union couldn't link to the stories in its own archives, thus helping its readers to make up their own minds.

Saturday's editorial, Solid list of candidates to pick from [but]
District 1 supervisor candidate Olivia Diaz's recent mailer misuses* partial quotes by her opponent, Nate Beason. Some are blurbs from columns written for The Union two years ago, which, by design, were point-counterpoint comments about opposing columnists' views**, not about Diaz or issues relevant to 2004...Others are...
I'm not going to defend all of the quotes; some are relatively weak. But the substance of the mailer is correct; the writings of the pre-campaign Beason and the recent Beason do not appear to come from the same person. And this speaks to the issue of integrity; a person with integrity is not a chameleon.

*And to argue, as the editorial board does, that exposing Beason's "effluvium-laden columns" commentary is a "misuse" of the quote because it doesn't directly impact Diaz or the current "on the table" campaign issues is either naive or disingenuous. Character matters. Judgement matters. Being able to disagree amicably and constructively with civil people matters. Beason's columns (links in Straight Talk) demonstrate a glaring deficit in this area.

I've sent the following questions to The Union's editor and publisher; I hope they will have the grace to respond:
[quote from editorial:]
"District 1 supervisor candidate Olivia Diaz's recent mailer misuses partial quotes by her opponent, Nate Beason. Some are blurbs from columns written for The Union two years ago, which, by design, were point-counterpoint comments about opposing columnists' views, not about Diaz or issues relevant to 2004. Others are taken from Beason's recent interview with the Editorial Board which, when read in context, offer a different meaning. No doubt the same results could be achieved by selecting "sound bites" from Diaz's transcript."
When I read this passage, the impression I get as a reader is that you [editorial board of The Union] believe that Diaz and Beason are no different in tone, and that if anything, Diaz is a bit more slimy (or has received poor campaign advice) since she is trying to insinuate that there is a difference.

  • Is this the impression that you wished to convey?

  • Do you believe that the quotes used in the mailer do not accurately reflect the tone of Beason's past writings?

  • Do you believe that the tone of Beason's past writings is no different from the tone of Diaz's past writings?

  • Do you believe that good planning, civil civic discourse, and maintaining Nevada County's quality of life are not issues that are "relevant to 2004"?

  • ** Do you believe that what someone says in their "point-counterpoint comments about opposing columnists' views" - especially when compared to those opposing (and infinitely more civil) columns - is not relevant to judging the integrity of their character and their fitness for office?

  • Do you believe it is the duty of The Union (and, by extension, its editorials) to accurately reflect reality? (still over the top; sorry)

  • Do you believe that the reader would have been more accurately informed if you had provided links to the writings in question, rather than just quoting a single paragraph?

  • Do you consider what The Union does to be journalism?

  • Was this an editorial column that you, personally, feel you can be proud of? Did it meet your standards for quality, fairness, and accuracy?
And, not in the letter, but fundamental: What are the ground rules? - when a candidate does grossly misrepresent himself in an attempt to fool the voters, who has the responsibility to bring this to light, and how? Is there a way to do it that is not "mud slinging"?

My limited personal experience:
The only District 1 supervisor candidatethat I've actually spoken with has been Nate Beason. Early in the campaign, he came to my door, and said he was running for Supervisor. I said "Sorry, I'm voting for Peter" [Van Zant, one of the "leftist and left-leaning functionaries of the Board of Supervisors spewing, to wretched excess..." in Beason's words]. Mr. Beason smiled a polite smile and said "Well, if he doesn't run, maybe you'll vote for me?", giving no indication that there was any difference in political outlook between them.

There are times when this movement just looks better and better.

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