Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Silence of Kentucky Reporters

It's a simple question with lots of variations that any journalist asks over and over.   It's a simple question that human microphone stands currently filling too many newsrooms never ask.

The question:  how do you know that is true?

The variations:  what is your evidence?  What proof do you have?  What facts do you have to substantiate what you're saying?  Here, the journalist asks for SPECIFIC facts.   Often what happens when asked for specifics, the politician sidesteps the question.   Then the journalist politely says, "excuse me, you didn't answer the question; my question is what evidence do you have to support the accusation you're making?"   Journalists ask that question.   Human microphone stands do not.

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank writes about the common and persistent problem for many current members of Congress of making the accusation, but providing no facts.   In "Accuse First, and Ask Questions Later," Milbank points out House Appropriations Committee chair Hal Rogers, a republican from Kentucky, says the White House has an "enemies list that rivals that of another president some time ago.”

Wow.   What's your evidence?  How do you know that is true?   There's no surprise that FOX NEWS didn't ask for any evidence.  But any journalist should.  Want a fun public service scavenger hunt or a quick assignment for any 8th grade journalism class?  Try to find a local newspaper or television reporter in Kentucky who called and asked for the evidence.  It's easy for today's politicians to get away with making statements supported by no facts because local reporters fail to hold them accountable.   They fail to do their job.

By the way, let me apologize in advance if a Kentucky news organization has asked and reported the evidence.  In my quick check of Kentucky newspapers and TV stations I couldn't find anything.  So if there is such a story where a reporter actually held the Congressman accountable, please send the URL and I will post.   If there's nothing, Kentucky voters and 8th grade journalism students should kick their newspaper publisher and TV general manager in the butt and ask them why their news organizations fail to hold their members of Congress accountable.


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