Lazy C editor has responded to criticism of his “Bocce Bedlam” party in a special Press Talk editorial this morning, “The ethics of getting to know you” where he essentially scoffs at the notion of anything out of the ordinary in his throwing such a party and inviting selected elected officials.
This blog covered the concerns being expressed at Editors, Politicians and Bocce Ball, Oh My! It is notable that the bulk of the concerns were not issued by the usual slate of conservative critics of Brancaccio but by liberals usually more supportive of Brancaccio and the paper.
That aspect alone should concern Brancaccio but seems to have slid right past him.
In his editorial he writes;
Shortly after, a few folks who saw the photos took to social media to question whether I should have had any elected officials at the party.
Good question! So, let’s examine.
Here’s the goal: Journalists should not be adversely influenced by their relationships with community members.
I couldn’t agree more.
But here’s another goal: Journalists should get to know their community, get to know those who are leaders in the community.
And I couldn’t agree more again.
Now, when you look at those goals, one might say it would be pretty difficult to accomplish both.
I would respectfully disagree.
One simply needs to find the middle ground. (emphasis added)
As noted in my earlier blog post, that “middle ground” seemed to center on each of the invited Republicans appears to have soured on, spoke up against or voted contrary to County Councilor David Madore, a frequent focus of Brancaccio’s editorials over the years.
I should inject that this is not a defense of Madore, No, not at all. He dug his own hole politically and I too soured on him long ago. But I am not an elected official or a member of the Republican Party. So don’t misconstrue anything as a defense of him.
Brancaccio says that newspaper people like him “are looking for the middle ground.”
This blog and others have noted over the years that last thing found in the pages of the local newspaper is any “middle ground” between left and right. And yes Brancaccio is quick to remind that they have endorsed Republicans in the past, but not as often as he says and there is no parity between how he attacks Republicans compared to passes given to Democrats.
What Lou refuses to see is that perceptions are a powerful thing, especially in elected office.
So what could readers perceive in this party, where he claims “seeking middle ground” by inviting those critical to one he frequently bashes and one in particular that days earlier voted to restore his paper as the county newspaper of record that will see thousands of dollars going to his newspaper?
Where has any effort to finding “middle ground” been in any efforts by him of burying the hatchet in regards to the year’s long efforts smearing 17th legislative district State Senator Don Benton?
Where was the olive branch extended to County Councilor Madore or Tom Mielke, also subject over some 100 negative editorials since the November 2012 election that saw Madore elected?
And yes, Brancaccio has invited Madore in the past to interviews that look more like set-ups and Madore lacked the wisdom to decline the invite.
And yes Brancaccio and Madore have socialized at public events, again Madore walking into the trap and giving Brancaccio “evidence” of camaraderie to post, while twisting the knife in his back.
That is not “middle ground.”
The problem rests in “credibility” and many of us long ago saw very little of that in the pages of the newspaper and this blog is one of those that have openly exposed the disparity seen within those pages.
But it is now those from the left that questions his credibility.
As Michele Wollert, who initially brought this up commented to Brancaccio under his editorial this morning wrote,
“Maybe you are the rare editor who can cross this social boundary without it impacting your ability to provide objective coverage of our local government and its elected officials. I’ll take your word for it that you can, but, because I am now just a little more doubtful than I was a week ago, I will be reading your interviews and columns with a little extra special scrutiny, watching for that important equal opportunity birddogging, as promised. It’s just a checks and balances thing that I know you understand.” (emphasis added)
Sorry Michele, but I hope you won’t be holding your breath waiting for equal birddogging. Maybe I am more skeptical than I should be, but years of seeing such distinct disparity in how matters are covered gives me doubts the Lazy C will ever change
Brancaccio signs off his editorial with,
“So I certainly celebrate those who disagree with me on this. And thank goodness, you can come to The Columbian’s website to discuss it.”
That too is not entirely accurate as Lou has banned several people, mostly all conservatives, from discussing anything on their website.
I imagine Brancaccio feels he has now smoothed things over and maybe to a degree he has. But I see nothing to quell my skepticism of their claims of objectivity and more people on the left, like Michele Wollert are questioning it too now.
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