Once again, we must take columnist and reporter Dan Popkey to task for his abuse of the facts.He is, of course, correct that our employee, Mitch Coffman, was wrong to publicly attack Sen. Dean Cameron's intelligence in a Twitter post. Mitch knows this and has apologized. People are human and do and say dumb things from time to time. This was one of those.
But Popkey has also said dumb, inflammatory things from time to time. How about when Popkey said some years ago that he fears for his children should a certain Idaho politician win election? Or how about just last year when he portrayed a member of Senate leadership as "an aging, confused, embarrassed uncle" after a Senate committee failed to take up anti-discrimination legislation Popkey was backing.
Either of those statements probably also should have caused the Capitol Correspondents Association to re-evaluate Popkey's participation in the media organization, were the Statesman to be held to the same standard as Idaho Freedom Foundation and IdahoReporter.com. But it is not. Popkey will argue it is because Idaho Freedom Foundation is a lobbying organization. Interesting, if true.
By law, Idaho Freedom Foundation spends just a fraction of its resources on lobbying. Popkey knows that, but refuses to tell his readers this, despite having ample opportunity. But even if that were good cause to ban IdahoReporter.com from official Statehouse credentials, then one wonders why the same standard does not apply to others.
Boise State Radio, for example, has press credentials, and Boise State University does far more lobbying than the Idaho Freedom Foundation does. Idaho Public Television has press credentials and also lobbies the Legislature. Staff for IPTV wear the coveted brown press badges while giving their budget proposal to the legislative budget committee. Yet Popkey and others hold IdahoReporter.com to a standard that applies to no one else. And why? Is it because Idaho Freedom Foundation has the audacity to cover things the media won't? Is it because we are too "powerful?" Is it because we expose media mishandling of the truth?
Yes, we deserve criticism when we fail to live up to our own standards. But when the legacy media do the same--when it refuses to own its own misdeeds and conflicts of interest, when they deny their advocacy and editorializing under the heading of "objective journalism" … they evade responsibility to our detriment and theirs, and that is just wrong.