Editors, Politicians and Bocce Ball, Oh My!

by lewwaters

Bocce AdIt seems our esteemed editor of the local Lazy C, ol Lefty Lou Brancaccio himself, hosted a Bocce Ball Tournament at his home recently that has drawn notice for the guests in attendance. Or, as Lou describes it, Bocce bedlam

And no, it isn’t those of us often critical of the paper and Liberal Democrats raising their eyebrow over it, but a prominent member of C3G2, Michele Wollert that senses a conflict of interest in an editor hosting those he is also expected to be critical of for fun and frivolity into his home.

On the C3G2 facebook page Michele asks;

“Should journalists and editors socialize with politicians? What are the risks to both? Journalists: do they suffer a loss of credibility/objectivity? Politicians: do they risk being the target of negative media attention for declining to socialize?”

“How can a sitting editor invite a select list of politicians to his home and not seem biased in their favor?”

“Worse yet, how can a politician safely decline such an invitation?”

“Some people would say that socializing does not equal editorial endorsing. But, perception is everything. Maybe it is best to steer clear of any controversy.”

While some commenting don’t seem to quite grasp what she is asking, Michele Wollert raises an interesting and very relevant question given the deep division seen in the county today.

The paper has long been accused of Liberal bias and being unfair towards conservatives and Republicans. But it can also be seen that he did invite a few known Republicans to his party.

But it is also recognized that the Republicans in attendance aren’t wholly supportive of Brancaccio’s arch adversary, County Councilor David Madore, the brunt of numerous editorials highly critical of his conduct and actions.

Remember, this wasn’t a public event or a social function where we often see a wide mix of citizens attending, but a private party at his home.

And no, there is no law against such an invitation or attending and enjoy the hospitality offered, but as Michele sees it and I agree, it does bring about an ethical quandary or conflict of interest where we have long complained about a lack of objectivity with the local newspaper, especially considering that at least one of the Republicans in attendance is a sitting County Councilor that recently voted to restore the paper as the “county newspaper of record” that will see them receive thousands of dollars each year from the county for legal notices.

It is also unknown just who all was invited and declined to attend.

But, I can only imagine the critical comments, editorials and blog posts from the paper had such a party been hosted by the editor of the Reflector shortly after they were named the “county newspaper of record” when the County Commissioners removed it from the Lazy C back in 2014 and awarded the Reflector with it.

I do believe there would have been loud cries of “conflict of interest” along with more lynch mob mentality written into weekly Press Talk editorials had such a party occurred.

And again I must note that while there is no law against such an invitation or attendance, there is the appearance of impropriety in regard to any claims of objectivity from the Lazy C, as some C3G2 commenters also note.

Had the party been hosted by any citizen with both Brancaccio and elected officials in attendance I doubt that appearance would exist. But with it being hosted by and at Brancaccio’s home the very weekend after his newspaper was once again named the “county newspaper of record,” well, I think you can see how that looks yourselves.

I also must acknowledge with this that within minutes of Lazy C being awarded again, Brancaccio, for some reason, emailed me with only the word “Boom” in it. He never replied when I sent back “????.”

Michele also brought up the point of potential retribution by the paper against any elected officials that might decline, another interesting thought given we have also seen in years past Brancaccio’s actions towards those that publicly speak against his editorial tactics or announce canceling their subscriptions as this blog noted in Lou Brancaccio and Chicago Bullying Tactics?

I must give Michele Wollert credit for bringing up this intriguing set of questions as I also wonder where is the Lazy C’s effort to heal divisions within the community, divisions I also must say they helped create.

By all accounts everyone had a good time and it was a successful party.

But maybe next time it should be hosted by someone else if there is to be a mix of elected officials and newspaper personnel we hope to be objective and critical to all, not just select ones.


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7 Comments to “Editors, Politicians and Bocce Ball, Oh My!”

  1. I applaud efforts to bring people together from across the political and ideological spectrum. While over the last 20+ years it has become more common place for wedges to be driven between people, as Bill Bishop demonstrates in his well researched book “The Big Sort,” it is not without lasting detrimental consequences. I believe it is healthy to create space where people can come together in a low-key social setting so they can “re-humanize” the “other.” Arthur C. Brooks’ recent piece, “Bipartisanship Isn’t for Wimps, After All” in the New York Times, makes a compelling argument for this sort of thing.

    I do believe that Ms. Wollert and yourself raise valid concerns over the role of the editor of the only major news outlet in Clark County playing the host to a private gathering like this. Maybe his efforts of building community will be taken forward by more objective hosts.

  2. Editors and reporters should steer clear of fraternizing with the politicians.

    It’s all about personal relationships and one’s fiduciary responsibilities. It’s common, for example, that plaintiffs filing lawsuits against local government, are represented by lawyers from outside the area, and there’s a reason for this.

    If a reporter at a reputable newspaper, (which immediately disqualifies what’s-her-name and the local daily Pravda) had a politician friend who became involved in a scandal, it’s improper, that they should be involved in the reporting of the issue. Likewise, it seems improper to attempt to build personal relationships with those whom they are ethically bound to report on with as much impartially as possible.

    Although I’ve never been able to verify it, my recollection is that I once read that Jim Lehrer didn’t vote; as a means of trying to maintain his impartiality as best as possible. While no one can be an island unto them self, Lehrer’s ideals are something for others to think about. As I mentioned once before on this blog, PBS had Jim Lehrer; look at what Clark County’s got.

    Taking it one step further, imo, it’s improper for newspaper types to be involved with politically active groups. As I also mentioned once before on your blog, Lew Waters, what’s-her-name seems to be mostly interested in making friends and fitting in with that c3er crowd. A generally highly leftist group, despite their claims to the contrary.

  3. Michele asks: Should Journalists and Editors socialize with Politicians? ….Do they suffer a loss of credibility/objectivity?

    Well, as for the local “major” paper, as far as I’m concerned, they have NO credibility to begin with. There is NO objectivity, only pure “progressive” bias in every article on every page of the paper. I do not and will not ever subscribe to the Columbian. It is my opinion that such a totally biased “news” outlet deserves to fail and go bankrupt. I’m sad to say that there is no daily newspaper that offers objective reporting and FAIR political analysis. The “editorializing” appears in the news articles (that ought to try to be even handed in reporting facts) as well as on the editorial pages. I do receive the Columbian’s “North County News” (or whatever they call it) … and after seeing a front page editorial, it now goes straight into the recycle bin in my home. This is mailed to me as a “postal patron” and I have not determined a reasonable way to get it turned off. (I could “reject” it, and return it to the Post Office, but that would simply require further handling and taxpayer expense at the P.O. and have no effect on the management of the worthless and biased newspaper. Prior to the unwanted editorial, I did glance at the “North County News” but no longer. (The advertisers should take note that I’m NOT viewing their ads. I hope they’re inexpensive…)

    Michele asks: How can a sitting editor invite a select list of politicians to his home and not seem biased in their favor?

    I could imagine that there are editors who might be able to do that, but it seems unlikely that our local paper’s editor could. I would surely consider this a negative toward any politician that participated when it come time for me to consider voting for them for reelection or for some other elected post. Note that I already feel that the newspaper in question HAS NO CREDIBILITY.

    Michele asks: How can a politician safely decline such an invitation?

    It’s a fair question … but for those politicians who are already treated unfairly, what more could declining the invitation cost them? If someone treats me unfairly and says negative things about me (sometimes multiple times each week), there is no way that I’d accept such an invitation. If I were to learn who the politicians were who did accept such an invitation, I would consider this a very serious black mark against their credibility, especially if they were of the “opposition” party.

    This is not to say that politicians and journalists could not meet on neutral grounds in social circumstances — one that might even be covered by journalists from multiple journalistic operations (TV, radio, and other print journalists) — where discussions of political positions might occur it potentially positive ways that improve understanding. However, we are currently in a situation where the “progressives” are absolutely certain that their political positions are “right, true, and correct” and they simply deny any validity of the opposition’s (conservative or libertarian) views. When a conservative makes a reasoned argument, the “progressive” response is to call them a racist, or some other evil — or as the (now former) professor of communications at the Univ. of Missouri did, call on “muscle” to “remove” a reporter from the “progressive” demonstration that was ongoing there.

    Michele states: “Perception is everything.”

    She is entirely correct. Perception is what makes the reputation of the politicians and of the journalists and editors. And then they wonder why Clark County only manages a 20 or 25% voter participation when the ballots are mailed to each voter and only require a few minutes to complete and mail in for tabulation. Journalists and Editors are also flabbergasted by the success of Donald Trump (and Bernie Sanders) on the national political stage. (Frankly, so am I.) However, it is obvious that a LOT of voters are furious. (So am I.)

    My thanks to Michele for asking these questions.

  4. Well, in this case, it make it much easier for these RINO types to coordinate their anti-conservative message with Lefty Lou.

    The reality is that all of the group in question (McDaniel, Olson/Green, Wilson T, Boger and Wilson L.) all supported my leftist brother-in-law’s election as county chair over the GOP candidate and, Lew, as we know, there are zero coincidences in politics.

    The only thing more bizarre than the invitation is that any of these people were moronic enough to accept it.

  5. For what it’s worth, I think it’s an issue. The newspaper should be unbiased. And not everyone can be unbiased if they socialize with the powers that be. I agree with Michele Wollert. It’s the appearance that matters. In reading the comments, I’m in the minority. Thank you for reporting on these things. Please don’t use my name if you chose to post this.

  6. Here’s the thing, you see: The bias of Lefty Lou is well known; well established, provable to any fair court of public opinion.

    With a year’s long record of vitriol, lies, exaggeration, flips and covering for his fellow leftists, the reality of his history is clear:

    If he “likes” you, he “likes” you. And if you share in his personal agenda and perspective and you’re an elected official, he’s GOING to “like” you.

    If you oppose his vision or his printed perspective, you make his enemies list and are subjected to both public… and non-public, efforts at bullying you individually.

    Character assassination is his stock-in-trade. His incessant bleating of a false neutrality is as honest and genuine as those who shilled the cancer of the county charter… and their equally incessant bleating for months of the lie that it had nothing to do with Madore and was all about “good governance.”

    Well, with the property tax increase people like Olson/Green have smacked us upside the head with, do you FEEL better “governance?”

    The elected officials and wannabees who showed up to Lou’s parlor should have known better. Now, the question of true motivation for what Lou says or doesn’t say in his cancer of our community will always be even more suspect. And given the record of these five, they are clearly guilty until proven innocent.

    Guilty of attempting to curry favor. Guilty of their efforts to hammer conservatives by, in some cases, actively recruiting and supporting RINOs running against conservative incumbents.

    Brancaccio’s effort this morning was to be expected. Covering himself is what he does best, since he never makes mistakes, never shows bias, never acts like a bully needing his ass kicked…

    In HIS world.

    His excuse column is utterly lame, in that we have been subjected to this variety of idiocy before. And if it was such a great idea, then why is it that no one to the right of Mao was asked to attend?

    While I get that Lefty is Lefty’s biggest fan, the reality is that a blind man could see this in a minute: Lefty’s job, such as it is, SHOULD include the requirement that he avoid even the appearance of conflict or bias. But his biases have been the guiding like of the local version of Pravda Izvestia for years now, mostly without consequence… so if he thought about it at all, he though “why not? What the hell? No one’s going to say or do anything about it.”

    Of COURSE Lefty is going to right a column excusing it. This, from the same clown who cheerled for the CRC/Loot Rail rip off for a decade, attacking, belittle and insulting those who had a different view, even acknowledging that the project stunk and then going on to effectively tell us we should just shut up and support it ANYWAY.

    But that he was forced to address it brings up the tried and true political axiom: “If you’re explainin… you’re losing.”

    Lefty is a “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” kind of guy. And frankly, if he told me it was daylight outside, I’d have to look for myself.

    What do we expect him to do…. tell the truth?

    But the reality is that this is an OBVIOUS conflict of interest. And no amount of Lefty-applied lipstick to that pig changes that fact.

  7. Passed without comment is that the “Legal Notice” contract has been given back to the Lazy C. Is this yet ANOTHER stab in the back from the RINOs on the County Council? (Or, was there some failing on the part of the Reflector?)

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