Former Union editor and Nevada County’s journalist extraordinaire (also self-appointed manager of our morals and keeper of The High Dudgeon) Jeff Pelline has again gotten a bit confused about the why, wherefore, and responsibility of disclosures. In my recent pieces promoting the passage of Proposition 23 (for example here and here), I do not mention that the Rebanes have contributed to Congressman Tom McClintock’s campaign – TomM, Dan Logue, Doug LaMalfa, and many other conservative politicians are also vocal proponents of Prop23.
On his blog and on RR Jeff has announced our financial support of McClintock in breathless revelations and the surety of a man who sees himself firmly in the footsteps of Woodward and Bernstein. His attempt to communicate outrage at my implied desire to hide this contribution is not the first time he has shown ignorance about when and where such disclosures are needed.
Jo Ann and I support many charities, institutions, politicians, and initiatives. And this invariably means that we also put our money where our mouths are – count on it. On the obverse, we also take no monies or other remuneration to our benefit for promoting and supporting our beliefs and values. In the case of Prop23, our hoped for benefit in its passage is that of almost all other Californians who are not members of the subsidy sucking sector.
What Pelline and other lightly read journalists seem to be ignorant of is that it is only those getting compensated for promoting views or causes who should declare their benefice and benefactors. In short, if it looks like you’re spouting off because you’re getting paid for spouting off, you should then disclose it.
For example, every time George Soros states that he is for, say, a higher minimum wage, he has no obligation to concurrently declare that he gives monies to a host of listed organizations and lobbyists who are of a same mind about a higher minimum wage. How he legally promotes his causes is his business, which someone else can discover and trumpet or not. In the same vein, conservative columnist and commentator Charles Krauthammer has no obligation to disclose his contributions to recipients who also hold the same views he is promoting.
Another example of this kind of dumbbell journalism occurs when we hear of the efforts to build a better fence along our Mexican border as being akin to our building another Berlin Wall down there. Such journalists have no idea how the Iron Curtain operated, or what was the intent and purpose of the Berlin Wall . Of course, one can argue that these journalists do know their history, but then we must conclude that they’re evil instead of stupid.
I make no such assessment of Jeff Pelline, he just keeps getting things bassackward.
[update] I meant to include a link to an appropriately clarifying essay that I posted almost three years ago about my thoughts on journalism today, my role as commentator, and a summary of belief tenets that anchor such views. Please see 'I AM NOT A JOURNALIST'.