Monday, June 07, 2004

Of Politics and Press Releases

One of the great things about living abroad is that I can remain oblivious to the news stories of my choice. Reagan's death has slipped past me for several reasons, the most important of which is that I thought he was already dead.

I've often heard that it's wrong to speak ill of the dead, but I don't think that means it's necessary to whip out the idolatry. Remember when Nixon died and became a "great statesman"? Yeah, I laughed a bit too. Reagan was the president of my childhood (he was elected two years after I moved to the U.S., and left office when I was 12). He was also the president of Iran-Contra, he stood by while people whose lifestyle he disapproved of died of AIDS, and worst of all, he misintrepreted Springsteen lyrics! "Born in the U.S.A." is not patriotic!

Now for the main event. I've also been following this story with great glee: From the Post

As most of you know, I worked for Alan Secrest for two and a half years. I signed a confidentiality agreement a few years back, so unfortunately I can’t say whether I think Alan is telling the truth. I also don't believe in being negative about someone in print, even just on my blog. I can say I've been cackling all the way from Bogota. I can also legally and morally discuss the reporting of the story.

Where's the beef? With the Washington Post. An accusation of anti-Semitism is made against a Congressman, the letter is leaked to the press, and the Post just throws it onto the front page of the Metro section without any backup. How's that for journalistic integrity? So far, there is no proof of what Congressman Moran did or did not say. Alan is refusing to be specific, and no one else at the meeting in question says that anything happened. You'd think one of the nation's leading newspapers would do better than he said-she said, especially when their source is a letter from a disgruntled former vendor.

Not to mention the lazy reporting and research the Post provided. Here's some of the ways the firm has been described in the Washington Post: “Secrest, a prominent Alexandria-based pollster who has run 300 successful campaigns for Democratic members of Congress” and “one of the most successful pollsters in the nation” and, finally “A pollster for decades, Secrest has run the firm of Cooper & Secrest since 1985. Since then, the firm has helped elect more than 300 members of Congress and hundreds of state legislators and city council members.“ It took me a while to realize why it all sounded so familiar. Those descriptions are (only slightly) paraphrased from CSA press releases and marketing materials.. I've read them a hundred times when putting together proposals. They couldn't find an independent resource to describe the firm and its accomplishments?

Oh, and from Moran’s opponent: "Alan Secrest is a nationally renowned and respected pollster, with an impeccable reputation. For him to take a stand like this, especially only one week in front of an election, speaks volumes about Congressman Moran and the things he must have said." Or, Rosenberg, you could consider your own reputation and integrity, and not pass along a rumor. Sigh.

For the record, I hope Moran gets reelected, only because he's amusing as all hell. Has another Congressman ever attacked an 8-year-old child for allegedly attempting to steal his car? Or blamed the Iraq war on the Jews? Or, best of all, had the police come to his home after both his girlfriends showed up on his birthday and began a catfight? I didn't think so. Rock on, Jim Moran.

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