Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Reporting on The Pledge

Give the Bangor Daily News credit for paying attention, this early in the race, to Sen. Collins pledge to serve no more than two-terms. (We discussed the pledge here.)

That said, Tom Groening's reporting leaves a lot to be desired.

Start with the headline: "Democrats say Collins broke two-term pledge."

Well, did she or didn't she? Why the suspense?

Unfortunately, the article itself is similarly non-committal:

Sen. Collins, according to Democratic Party spokeswoman Carol Andrews, made the pledge to serve just two terms while running for the seat in 1996. Collins announced the two-term pledge on April 1, 1996, while signing a document supporting a constitutional amendment limiting terms for members of Congress.

While seeking re-election in 2002, Collins reaffirmed her pledge to serve two terms in a letter to a constituent, according to Andrews.

The Collins campaign does not deny she made the pledges.
(Emphasis added.)

So let's review. A Democratic spokeswoman makes a couple of charges. Sen. Collins doesn't deny them. But the reporter still thinks it's necessary to couch the information as "according to Democratic Party spokeswoman..."

Why not, y'know, do some actual reporting and find out whether the charges are true so that you can give readers the unmediated, straight scoop? (Hint: The fact that the Collins camp hasn't refuted them is telling.)

Look, BDN isn't the only journalistic organization guilty of this kind of lazy reporting. But when I read a newspaper, I don't want to just hear what some party hack said happened. I want to know what actually happened.

Especially in a situation like this, where verifying the facts is so easy.

The truth is, Sen. Collins, by running for a third term, has broken her pledge. Period. Full stop.

Enough with the hedging.

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