Last February The Union reported “Federal lawsuit filed against county clerk-recorder” — but with a glaring omission: His political opponent’s direct involvement in the case, known as the AtPac v. Nevada County.
Now the newspaper is reporting only one side of the story again: this time without getting the county’s perspective in a ruling against it to release some documents in the case. It is getting “spun” by AtPac’s attorney without publishing the county’s side — against the tenets of Journalism 101.
In the first instance, The Union failed to mention that the attorney representing AtPac in the bidding process was none other than Barry Pruett, who was Diaz’ opponent in the race. With egg on its face, the paper was forced to follow up with a subsequent report, leading with Pruett’s involvement. AtPac also was one of Pruett’s largest campaign donors.
Pruett wound up losing the clerk-recorder race handily, in every precinct, in fact.
This hasn’t stopped Pruett, a tea party advocate and big Tom McClintock supporter, from bashing Diaz months after the election. McClintock also made the local race partisan with a remark that it was time to replace the “left wing” clerk recorder. He was speaking at a tea party rally earlier in the year.
Pruett hasn’t let up. “Greg Diaz whining about retired ladies?” Pruett wrote on his blog when Diaz submitted an Other Voices that he had received reports of poll worker and voter intimidation.
Well, no. As it turned out, the report wasn’t focused on “retired ladies” at all — but McClintock staffers. In fact, Pruett probably knew one of them.
Now Pruett is continuing to beat the drum for the AtPac lawsuit, though parts — including the most serious charge — have been thrown out.
“It has been over two years since this mess created by Gregory Diaz began, over nine months since litigation started, and it does not appear to be any closer to resolution,” Pruett wrote about the political opponent who defeated him. Like-minded, hard right political blogger George Rebane followed up with his own similar spin too, baiting the local media to follow up.
Then (“surprise, surprise”) The Union weighed in.
But in all three reports nobody talked to the county, Diaz or its legal council. “Caroline Mankey, the attorney representing Nevada County and Aptitude Solutions, did not return repeated calls for comment. County Counsel Michael Jamison, who is not handling the case, was out of the office Monday.”
In fact, The Union isn’t even sure whether the required documents were provided or not. “The county’s deadline was Friday; on Friday afternoon, AtPac attorney Michael Thomas said he had not received any documents from the county. Thomas could not be reached Monday, and it was not clear whether the required documents had arrived in time.”
The Union should have held off publishing its report until it got both sides of the story. County officials, including the county executive officer, are readily available by cell phone and email.
Now The Union has provided a one-sided account to its readers, whether it was intentional or not — just like its original reporting of the suit when it omitted Pruett’s involvement.
It’s easy to argue that it played right into the AtPac lawyer’s hands — and Barry Pruett’s — solidifying its reputation as “The Tea Party Gazette.”
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