Media manipulation is nothing new during political campaigns, and neither is negative campaigning. In this case, you have to wonder if The Union is being used in the effort for Barry Pruett to unseat Greg Diaz in — of all offices — the clerk-recorder race.
It’s a good venue from a campaign manager’s standpoint, having been pro-Tea Party for many months.
Pruett’s latest barb, “leaked” to The Union in emails by local Tea Party supporter Mark Mecker: Pruett is really not a Tea Party Patriot leader after all, and Diaz is “simply lying” to suggest otherwise. OK, Skippy, whatever you say.
To me the negative campaigning suggests Diaz is doing well in the race. We’re in a period of political realignment, with the GOP losing its grip, and the change is hard for many people to swallow. (I’ve been targeted just for writing about it. The cyber-attacks to discredit me — some of which disclose where my wife works and where my son goes to school — are on the rise in recent days, too. Time to bring out another pair of kevlar undies.)
The argument from Pruett and Meckler seems to hinge on interpretation of the word leader — despite Pruett’s known involvement in the tea party, including an article he wrote for CABPRO inviting people to join the group.
Next we’re going to hear that Congressman Tom McClintock (whose local staffer happens to be Pruett’s spouse) didn’t really announce it was time to get rid of that “left-wing” clerk recorder politically at a recent Tea Party rally. (The Union, by the way, still hasn’t reported this — something that should have been front-page news).
Meckler’s leaked email to The Union began:
“As you know, as the co-founder and national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, I have stayed out of local elections here in Nevada County. But today, I received a copy of a letter being circulated by Diaz which contains several falsehoods and attacks against the tea parties which I feel I must address.”
It added: “I’d be happy to debate him on the issue, on KNCO, or in any other live, public forum. I’m not running for office, and I’m not endorsing any candidates.”
At the same time, the newspaper “happened” to receive a campaign fundraising letter from Diaz that read:
“Recent newsreports show that political interests and organizations from outside of Nevada County are making every effort to influence the election for Nevada County clerk-recorder.
“These interests are working to elect a leader of the politically charged and highly partisan Tea Party movement and are expected to shovel in unprecedented contributions — some estimate more than $50,000 — to elect somebody absolutely unqualified to manage the Office of county clerk-recorder.”
You can decide:
•Pruett wrote an article from the CABPRO newsletter last year explaining the Tea Party. He urged people to “join the movement sweeping the nation.” It is here.
•GOP supporters from outside the county, including Assemblyman Dan Logue and Sierra College Trustee Aaron Klein have endorsed Pruett in the clerk-recorder race. They can’t vote in the race, however.
•McClintock himself has made highly partisan comments about the race. In fact, his inflammatory remarks at the Tea Party rally so upset some moderate Republicans that they wrote letters to the Congressmen to object to his professionalism. (Why hasn’t The Union reported this?)
•The next round of campaign finance reports aren’t due until many people have voted, so it’s hard to know when or where Pruett’s contributions are currently coming from. Pruett has been running online ads in The Union.
Meanwhile, the owner of AtPac Inc. of Auburn donated $1,500 to Pruett’s campaign, and $1,000 came from Auburn financial advisor Robert Ash, according to the most current report.
From a campaign manager’s perspective, The Union is a friendly venue for “leaking” this kind of story:
•The Union’s own readers have roundly criticized the paper for being pro-Tea Party: “Genuine article or Tea Party press release.” One of the articles — a softball Q&A — was written by the editor/publisher of The Union.
• The Pruetts are copacetic with The Union’s current management. Barry Pruett has been Facebook friends with the editor/publisher for a long time now, and his spouse — McClintock staffer Kim Pruett — writes: “I enjoy reading the editorials, Jeff always has a way of putting humor into them, it is a nice change.”
•The Union recently co-sponsored a candidate’s forum with the Tea Party Patriots, raising issues of journalistic judgment. Was the paper chagrin? Hardly.
“Some were concerned that the Tea Party folks might get violent, scream, shout, hold up signs and maybe throw themselves in front of shopping carts,” the editor/publisher wrote. They are, after all, mostly conservatives and conservatives just aren’t supposed to act like … well … liberals.”
You can expect more mudslinging in this supposedly nonpartisan race, because the ballots don’t go out until May 10. It’s turning out exactly how I thought it would from the get-go.
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