The Statesman's Silent Treatment
The Austin Post recently celebrated 3 years of citizen journalism. I hope AustinPost.org continues to grow, to provide information that otherwise would be hidden, and empower voices that otherwise would be silent.
In contrast, the Austin American-Statesman is in its 141st year of publication and its circulation is in decline. There are a myriad of factors contributing toward this decline.
Some have argued the liberal media bias turns off a lot of people. I frankly don’t think the media is liberal or anything else because the media is far more than newspapers and TV. Talk radio, the Internet, and all manner of freedom of speech and free enterprise have democratized media beyond the confines of any ideology.
I received a survey today from the Statesman in which they asked if I thought they were too liberal or conservative. I marked neither. They also asked how liberal and conservative I was, and unfortunately they didn’t let me tell them.
However, I did give them an overall poor rating. Why?
I can’t trust them. When I read their reporting, I don’t know anymore if they are telling the truth. I can’t be sure they are deliberately leaving out information. I suspect their portrayal of an issue is not accurate.
I say this knowing they have some excellent reporters. They have done some great work and covered a lot of issues that I would not have known about without seeing it in their paper. That is why I have been a loyal subscriber for many years.
But that changed recently. I became aware that they were portraying the most intense political battle in Travis County as a two-person race. Repeatedly they presented Republican Gerald Daugherty and Democrat Karen Huber as the lone contestants in the campaign for Travis County Commissioner Precinct 3.
What they didn’t tell you is that I was on the ballot. It wasn’t because of a mistake. They knew it, and deliberately chose to deceive their readers.
Frankly, in recent years I think the Statesman has done a reasonable job of at least saying that a Libertarian is on the ballot. They don’t have to like us. But at least they would serve their purpose by informing voters of who is on the ballot before they go to the ballot box. They are certainly doing a disservice if they mislead voters down the wrong trail only to find at the end that a surprise appears on the ballot: Pat Dixon. Wouldn’t you have liked to know that before you had to cast your vote?
I would think that I would have earned more than a mention. I have twice won elected office in Travis County. My campaign had large signs distributed throughout precinct 3 and advertising placed on taxi cabs. I sent campaign postcards and made phone calls. I appeared at candidate forums and on television. My website had a complete history of my record on city council and full coverage of my positions on the issues. The online advertising I did reached a lot of people.
If that doesn’t merit mention, what does? The fact that other Libertarian candidates were mentioned in their articles and I was not is sufficient to suspect something fishy. The response that I received from reporter Farzad Mashood proved that they were selectively and deliberately excluding me and deceiving the public.
Now that the results are in, my 7,103 votes were triple the number that cost Democrat Karen Huber her office. The percent of the vote I received was higher than four years ago when my friend Wes Benedict competed against these same two people for the same office. This is remarkable considering it was the most competitive and expensive campaign in Travis County and I had no mention in the coverage of this race by the largest newspaper in the area. However, in the post-election reporting by the Statesman they again exclude my name as if it was a two-person contest.
I can only speculate that they don’t mind when a Libertarian is perceived to have cost an incumbent Republican their office. Jason Embry will tell you how Libertarian Greg Knowles had about four times as many votes as Republican Jack Stick lost his state representative seat by. Marty Toohey told us in 2008 how Libertarian Wes Benedict had about two-and-a-half times as many votes as Republican Gerald Daugherty lost his County Commissioner seat by.
But apprently things are different when Libertarians are a factor in the ouster of a Democrat. When Libertarian Kris Bailey exceeded the margin that cost Democrat Valinda Bolton her state representative seat, or Libertarian Ed Mishou exceeded the margin that cost Democrat Solomon Ortiz his seat in U.S. Congress, not a peep. As so it is with my results.
I know there are some very good reporters at the Statesman that try their best to present the facts and earn your subscription. But I also know know that there are those with agendas and you cannot believe what they tell you.
The Statesman is under no obligation to be fair, honest or accurate. They are under no obligation to even acknowledge Libertarians exist. And you are under no obligation to buy what they are selling.