Monday, August 19, 2013

Editorial: Just don't get caught at it

Today the unnamed editor chides public servants for exposing their brain-junk in social media. "You ought to know better than to toss offensive language and photos into cyberspace where it will remain forever," he writes, wagging a finger, and admonishes them to "Behave responsibly with high-tech devices." As if self-indulgent use of Twitter is the problem.

He tips his hand by first mentioning disgraced ex-Rep and New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, who so famously leaked pics of his real junk, while skipping over exactly the same behavior by Pinal Sheriff and local congressional candidate Paul Babeau. With that I knew the editorial was going to be some sort of attempt at applying a strategic figleaf.

The editor's Facebook friend
But he did get to LD6 Rep Bob Thorpe, who launched himself into the national spotlight with a series of bonehead racist tweets last week. Thorpe's previous Western Newspapers mention was a fawning hagiography in the Verde Independent. The editor listed his "missteps," but couldn't bring himself to criticize the thinking behind them. Rather, Thorpe gets the blame only for exposing himself in public.

So we're left to conclude that the editor doesn't care what he thinks, only that he got caught at it.

If the editor thought like a newsman, he would be thanking his lucky stars that a politician would be demonstrating so clearly and so voluntarily the motivations behind his public-policy decisions. This is exactly the sort of factor that voters most need to know about the people offering to represent their interests in the statehouse and in Washington. But rather than express any concern that the Representative may not be acting in a manner worthy of his position or in the best interests of his constituents, the editor only tells him to button up his fly, a guy helping a guy out. This identifies the editor as a willing crony, exactly the opposite of the public-interest watchdog that is the most important responsibility of a free press.

This is what we're seeing with the Courier's endorsements of Prescott Council candidates as well, of course. Councilman Blair has a long history as a flasher of ugliness, and Mayor Kuykendall recently joined the fray in a Courier interview by accusing a grieving firefighter widow of greed while minimizing her as a "neat little lady." But they didn't rate mention in this editorial. That might be a little too close to home for the editor.

At least Thorpe will have to answer to his constituents for his "missteps" next year. It's a pity the editor doesn't face the same kind of accountability.


Anonymous said...

Bravo again, but the problem remains: Sanity can only be observed, understood and practiced by the sane. Pandering to the least common denominator is how, and why the Courier survives. In Prescott, IQ has never reached plague status.

Steven Ayres said...

I don't think you're being quite fair to Prescottonians. For starters, only a minority take the paper, a minority of those read the opinions, and a (loud) minority of those defend them. I agree there's a lot of ignorance, but that's not the same as stupid. I'd rather put the blame on my industry, whose mandate is to inform voters. If we demand more from the Courier, I can only hope it will continue to improve.