The Desert Sun Political Insider Column Smears Another Democratic Candidate

Desert Observer’s page

Our valley’s local newspaper, The Desert Sun, is widely understood by realists to be staunchly in the Republican political camp. Political editorials are predictably skewed towards GOP candidates and favoritism is the daily watchword when it comes to Republican issues and officeholders. Newspaper reporting, separate from the editorial department, is sometimes less biased, but if an issue has a political bent the benefit often accrues to the GOP side. Today’s newspaper included an excellent example of such politically slanted reporting.

The front page of the Monday newspaper’s Local section was partially devoted to the weekly Political Insider gossip column. The lead article is titled “Mystery ‘Scoop’ slings Pettis dirt” and it represents an instance of the newspaper playing its own role as contributor in that bit of dirt slinging. In this instance it appears The Desert Sun has found a proxy assailant to further its determination to undermine the candidacy of local Democratic Assembly District candidate Greg Pettis. The Political Insider reporters have produced an anonymous mystery person and a new website whose sole purpose is to trash the Pettis assembly candidacy. This secret individual, whose name is unknown to them, is the source on which they’ve based their smear campaign against Pettis. Using someone whom they can’t prove actually exists, as the foundation for a newspaper story, is surprising, for that person could easily turn out to be a reporter or other employee of The Desert Sun. If they don’t know who created the website, how do they prove they’re not involved and their hands are clean?

The anti-Pettis website is quite new and still in development but it was partially completed in time to make its debut before the appearance of the Monday morning Political Insider column. That was most important. It’s quite easy to build a new website and populate it with content. The very difficult job is in attracting viewers. With hundreds of thousands of sites around the world, getting the attention of web surfers is an almost insurmountable challenge for a small operator. That won’t be a problem for the operator of the new website, for his friends at The Desert Sun gave him the best gift of all – free publicity! They printed his new website address where it’ll be seen by everyone reading the newspaper. Truly a website designer’s dream come true!

An obscure new website, designed to trash a Democratic candidate, created by a completely anonymous source is publicized by The Desert Sun newspaper and the website browser address printed for all to see. Suddenly the website is no longer obscure and its anti-Democratic content neatly dovetails into the overall goal of the GOP-leaning newspaper. Contrast that with a few other websites that appeared last fall trashing Congresswoman Mary Bono. Those efforts received scant publicity and the website addresses were never printed. The Political Insider may be intended as a gossip column, but it continues to prove it can be just as insidious, malicious, and prejudiced as the neighborhood backyard fence variety. It’s just more evidence of distasteful political mud-slinging – absolute garbage! Our community is not well served by the one-sided political smears evident in this type of reporting in The Desert Sun newspaper. They can and should do better.

Bond Shands

Palm Springs

March 24, 2008

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