Time for "More" on the events of the day.

I had promised in a post issued this morning that I would be writing more on the series of stories that the Sioux Falls Argus Leader has posted this weekend (But not on their web site) regarding whether Public Utilities Commissioner Bob Sahr was running again or not.

It's an odd situation where anonymous letters went out to members of the media, and at least one has chosen to act on it. I had termed it "yellow journalism" in the prior post, and I did have someone who disagreed with me. Their point was as follows:
PP, did we read the same articles? I didn't notice any "yellow journalism". Just a legitimate news story fueled by your very own Republicans - John Koskan, Deb Peters, Gary Hanson.

Don't you think it's news when a simple re-election bid draws interest and speculation from other prospects? You sure did a couple of weeks ago in the primaries!
So, I gave it some contemplation. And even some research. According to wikipedia, yellow journalism is defined as:
Yellow journalism is a pejorative reference to journalism that features scandal-mongering sensationalism, jingoism or other unethical or unprofessional practices by news media organizations or individual journalists. More enlightened journalistic professionalism generally considers such behavior beneath its principles.
And now, after considering it, I would stand behind my statement more than ever. We have the Argus Leader sensationally stating that there's "some type of investigation involving a public official." They don't know who's conducting it. They aren't stating why. If you carefully read the article, they don't conclusively say who is being investigated. But they are doing their best to infer that it is Bob under the headline "Sahr in race amid investigation."

Maybe some of the reporters out there who read this might be able to clarify this for me, but I was under the odd impression that a news story should be able to convey some basic things such as "Who , what, where, why, when, and how." All I get out of the article is "imply, maybe, maybe, uncertainty."

Aside from all of that, upon reading the articles in the context of both of them, in the end, I can't blame John Koskan nor Deb Peters for stating that they are looking at the race. When the Republican Party Chairman is saying he isn't sure if the seat will be open or not, in the GOP, if there's an open seat (or even a filled one), there are going to be willing candidates to step up to the plate, unlike other parties.

So, at this point, I'm going to reserve judgement for the moment until there is more information available. First off, unlike our state's largest newspaper, I'm going to wait for clear confirmation of who is being investigated for what, as opposed to the rumor mill and anonymous slander. And I'll wait to believe that Bob isn't running when I hear it from him myself at convention.

I hope other delegates will consider the same.

Comments

Young one said…
I think I disagree. An investigation of a public official IS news. Other high profile republicans - namely, John Koskan, the next in line for Majority Leader - are gunning for the post. That's news.

There's a reason that they don't have much to go on - nobody will comment on the investigation. It's clear the Argus tried to find out what the investigation was about, but state officials decided not to comment, and to keep the public veiled in secrecy.

One of the roles of the news media, and the Argus takes this role very seriously, is to hold public officials accountable for actions. If public officials won't comment, its their job, in my opinion, to report on the FACT that there is an investigation, and the FACT that no one will comment on what its about.

That way, hopefully we can get some comment out of the individuals.

I think the coverage was appropriate.
Anonymous said…
PP, are you saying that the Argus should not have reported it when:

1) Randy Frederick says the PUC seat may be open,

2) Gary Hanson says that he was expecting Sahr to announce on Friday that he was not running,(Gary Hanson also said there is an investigation of some kind going on but the PUC is not conducting it); and

3)at least two other Republicans expressed interest in running for PUC if Bob Sahr is not?

That sounds like big news put out by credible Republican sources. You can't blame the Argus for reporting what your people are saying on the record.
PP said…
No, I'm saying that it's bad to bring up charges in the context of a public official when they have no information. It's just basically throwing a wild statement out there with nothing to back it up.

They don't even know who is actually being investigated. Good gosh, isn't that something you might want to confirm before they start writing stories on it?

As far as others running, I would have printed it too (and wished I could have gotten the scoop).

I think we need to separate the two points in discussion.
Anonymous said…
Hmmm...

Well, the only real way for them to get facts is for them to be disclosed. And, since Republicans control state government, there's absolutely no chance the information will be disclosed. Who really cares about the public's right to know, huh?

Is there an investigation about Bob Sahr? Yes. That's newsworthy. If they had to wait on the state to release information, it would never come out.

Like it or not, a watchdog press is a good idea. It's an essential part of our society.
PP said…
Anon, we don't know that. We know there is an investigation, and that's really it. We don't know what or who it is about. Read the article. It doesn't conclusively say.

I'm not saying it isn't. I'm saying we don't know.

Or has innocence until proven guilty been thrown out the window?
Anonymous said…
PP-

"Or has innocence until proven guilty been thrown out the window."

That is nothing less than a silly argument. Are you suggesting that the media should not report on investigations until a verdict has been reached? I think not.

This stoy became newsworthy the moment Gary Hanson confirmed the existence of an investigation:

“There is an investigation, but the PUC is not conducting it,” PUC commissioner Gary Hanson said today.

By the way, where has the link to Bob Sahr's website gone? I seem to recall he was the lone advertiser on SD War College?
Anonymous said…
PP:

I hope Bob Sahr paid you in advance for his ad on your site.
Anonymous said…
More than yellow journalism, what if this is about bad journalism.

Stories are leaked all the time for political purposes. Journalists are used, aren't they PP. In the end, if this story is put out to help those who want Bob S. out of office isn't Dave Kranz missing the bigger story- Republicans eating their young? And who's doing this? Why is this now coming out with convention starting this week and successors already in place?

The quote from Hanson was telling in Sunday's Argus was telling, "I can't say more." I suspect he said enough.

Kranz is nothing more than someone who repeats what he's told. Independent thought and analysis is something he should try, rather than simply repeat and type.

The names and methods of the people who put Koskan into the mix will come out and it's a shame. Not a surprise, but a shame. This never would have happened in a manner such as this under the Janklow/Rosenthal watch. Amateurs.
old one said…
I think PP said that in a prior post:

basing convention decisions on anonymous letters and unsubstantiated allegations is a slippery slope. Because the next person that it might happen to could be you.

If were going to boil someone in oil for a crime, let's at least figure out if one has been committed first.
Anonymous said…
Are you completely crazy? Your entire Blog is Yellow Journalism.
Anonymous said…
Only in the Republican Party where a report about a secret investigation is a greater crime than the actual person being investigated, in addition to the secretive government in charge of it.

Now if we can get the TV screens to stop showing all that carnage in Iraq, we can win over there...

If we didn't have anybody poking around why a CIA operative was outed, we can have a proper intelligence apparatus.

I think you guys will find your personal accountability platform in same spot as your financial responsibility.
Anonymous said…
I am a delegate and I am putting my vote behind Sahr, he has done too much good for this state!
mjb said…
anon 8:50 -

you could probably PP's writing that most of the time, but since when is the Argus a blog?
Anonymous said…
Anon, 8:21-what are you saying about Gary Hanson? Is Dusty Johnson in this mess?
feasant said…
Who are you liberals, do you even live in SD? This is clearly bad practice by the Argus. Let's use an example that is clearly not true and I am using it for illustration purposes only so you thick headed Liberals may have a chance of understanding so don't write back saying its not true. Instead of campaigning on the issues this Fall right before the election an anonymous letter arrives at the Argus accusing Miss Herseth of being "gay" and they print it, would you be upset? Lets hope that kind of crap doesn't get started. One more thing: what happened to innocent until proven guitly. You Liberals are all the same do as I say not as I do.
scimitar said…
Feasant, your opinion is a dumb as ever. Let's make your herseth example analogous to the current situation if that is not too difficult for your small mind to comprehend. For instance, an anonymous letter says herseth is gay. Then, another congressperson says to the press that Herseth isn't running again. Then the SDDP chair says there may be a battle for her seat. Then 2 other democrats announce they are interested in her seat.

Now, you thickheaded oaf, don't you agree that would be newsworthy?
Anonymous said…
Scimitar, I don't think calling namecalling makes your case any stronger. It makes you sound less rational and reasoned.
Anonymous said…
anon 9:06
Sahr has done very little for South Dakota, and if this pans out to be about him, he has hurt us even more.
Anonymous said…
Sibby, er Feasant, the liberals had nothing to do with Mr. Sahr's troubles, real or perceived. The GOPpers are just making sure they don't lose the PUC seat because their leading candidate imploded.
Anonymous said…
Imploded? I think what PP is trying to say is hold on a minute. There will be no implosion, to claim there is with no facts is silly and does nothing but hurt the party...unless of course, that was your intent is using the term.
Anonymous said…
I hope the Pierrefied republicans aren't keeping more corruption and cronyism from the citizens of south dakota. I knew Sahr was very self-serving years ago. For his sake, I hope the Argus is just trying to harm another republican before the convention (Homer Harding), with little basis other than trying to assist the democrats. The problem, though, is that Bob's character is probably flawed. I've seen inklings of it in the past. My problem is I don't know who believe, Bob or the Argus, as both have serious credibility problems. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if it is Yellow Journalism or a Slimy Sahr.
Anonymous said…
Bob Sahr is dead meat. If he is nominated he will lose the general, just like Homer Harding did in 94. Sometimes a guy just has to do the right thing. In this case Bob should decline to run. That would be the classy thing to do in an otherwise classless situation.
feasant said…
I am going to comment on this again so I can get called more names, I guess I deserved it since I started it, I apologize. Calling me Sibby is an honor by the way.

What I was trying to get at is: Did Bob Sahr do anything wrong? Or is it just a political ploy to get rid of him? I believe if he did anything wrong, he should be thrown out now. If Bob Sahr is innocent, writing a "news" article that was started with an anonymous lettter, about him may have ruined his career and his name.

The other point I was attempting to get across: This could happen to any candidate Liberal or Conservative.

For everyone involved I hope the truth comes out.
Anonymous said…
Obviously, what is going on right now is the behind-the-scenes process of lining up support for the "chosen one" who will replace Sahr on the ballot. There may be a contest at the convention, but the party elite will rally around one candidate and give that person wings.
The tragedy is seeing such a promising political career come to this. Let's keep Bob Sahr and his family in our prayers.
Anonymous said…
Well, at least Lee S. won't have to worry about Bob S. in 2010. Also, I didn't know Koskan was an angel or one who could sproute wings.
Anonymous said…
It's not Koskan.
Anonymous said…
Deb P?

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