05 Oct 2017

Pardon the Detour – It’s Worth It!

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On the way to our 5-parter examining exceptional reportage on Environmental Groups (otherwise known as NGOs), the PolicySmith was laid low by a lower GI bug – bad juju we suppose.  While down, but not out, we ran across an excellent editorial in the weekly Standard.  It is a copyrighted editorial without a byline – we link to it here in the hope that the publisher will not object to this free tub-thumping for his product.

This editorial supports an earlier essay series here about the fourth branch of government – the administrative state, and in this case the unwillingness/inability of the congressional majority and the Administration to address blatant misconduct.  In particular, the IRS and Lois Lerner get a free skate, as does Commissioner Koskinen who remains in command despite advancing zero reforms.

Here’s an excerpt that captures the nub of the issue:

“The promise of the Trump Administration…was a return to accountability.  Jeff Sessions, a man committed to judicial integrity, was supposed to be just the man to restore respect for the rule of law.  But the attorney general seems to be missing in action.  The House Ways and Means Committee asked the Justice Department earlier this year to reexamine Lerner’s case.  Committee chairman Kevin Brady told the Washington Post that the department’s decision to decline ‘sends a message that the same legal, ethical, and constitutional standards we all live by do not apply to Washington political appointees,’ who ‘now have the green light to target Americans for their political beliefs and mislead investigators without ever being held accountable for their lawlessness’.”

Especially noteworthy in this editorial is calling out Lerner’s stance that inappropriate targeting was solely the responsibility of “front-line people.”  Her “lost” (but later found) emails confirmed the opposite – her strong personal bias against conservatives (she called them “crazies” and “assholes”).  To boot, there is a credible and extensive series of accusations that she harassed conservative groups when she worked at the Federal Election Commission in the 1990s.

While the tether to straight journalistic enterprise can be argued, it remains that the Standard’s editorializing grows out of diligent research and fact checking.  It dramatically counters the all-too-common practice of taking a premise and reverse engineering the journalistic process to support that pre-conceived premise (please refer to Diane Carman in our last post, which you can find here).

The journalistic pursuit with value is to let the story take the writer wherever it goes – good, bad, ugly or indifferent.  Newspapers have a long history of invaluable service to the public, so valuable our founders chose to call it out in the US Constitution – freedom of the press.  But that freedom has been sorely tested of late…both CNN and CBS news reporters made a point during the Las Vegas tragedy that concert attendees were likely Trump supporters.  Linking the tragedy to politics by the two organizations is beneath contempt and the guilty parties should be terminated, so far one has resigned.

All of this is prelude to a deep dive into the world of green NGOs — with the bad juju in the rearview mirror, we’ll begin the 5-parter next week.  In addition, we’ll look at a political reporter based in Pittsburgh who rewrote the book on campaign/election coverage.  Salena Zito was an editorial writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review when she interviewed hundreds of voters across Pennsylvania during the 2016 Presidential campaign.


Post script/Obituary

Harry A. Trueblood, Jr., a dear friend of the PolicySmith and a long-time pillar of the Independent petroleum community was an entrepreneur of the first order.  He founded and led seven public companies and ran another. Harry was a long-time active member of IPAA, IPAMS/WEA, and was elected to the Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Hall of Fame in its inaugural class.  He was elected Wildcatter of the Year in 2006.  He owned a third of the Vail Valley in the 1960s and was instrumental in the development of its real estate associated with the resort. He was the driving force in creating the Princeville resort on the north shore of Kauai, Hawaii. His philanthropic activities, among many others, spanned scholarships at the University of Texas, the University of Denver, the Littlefield Foundation and the Harry Trueblood Foundation, founded in 1968. He is survived by his son John, daughter Katherine, and two grandchildren. His booming voice, incisive commentary and spirit of good will are already greatly missed. Harry was 92, RIP.


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