For any of you readers who regularly—or even occasionally—visit this column, it's been abundantly clear over the years that I consider advocacy journalism an oxymoron. Journalism is reporting on the facts as they occurred while advocacy is public relations which is designed, by nature, to be opinion forming. This profession of journalism has, in recent years, taken a dark turn into an area where one is often challenged to determine the dividing line between facts and embellishing hype!
A perfect example of advocacy journalism would be an article in one of the area papers about what was essentially a non-story. The only apparent motive was the continued bashing of Devin Nunes. First of all because he is a Republican—an elected Republican is indeed rare in California--and secondly because he has been supportive of our President. “Resisters” can't tolerate those people!
When one takes a civil lawsuit, which was not even filed in this area and is far from current in nature, and attempts to place the blame of malfeasance of company management at the feet of one of the company's stockholders it doesn't pass the “smell test.” Apparently the Senator has a minority stake in a Bay Area company where sexual shenanigans occurred aboard a fund raising cruise and an innocent employee of the company was exposed to harassment.
From all empirical evidence Senator Nunes was not on board, not a participant and was unaware of such an occurrence. The story was juicy and replete in detail, appealing to the lascivious nature of those with any sort of perversion. The story was old, unrelated to anyone from this area and, in my opinion unnecessary. In short the entire sorry episode was a non-story.
Many of us own stock in companies that, from time to time, are involved in wrong doing or involved in some accident and the story never places the blame on individual stockholders.
Following closely on the heels of that “late-breaking” news was full coverage of three billboards on Highway 99—just south of Fresno.
When was the last time anyone heard of a group of three billboards making the local newspaper? Apparently the trigger for coverage of any event is “if it's anti-Nunes, we cover it wall to wall.”
About the same time all of this is occurring, there is an editorial cartoon panel featuring the deliberate misspelling as “Devil Nunes.”
Know what? I have absolutely no problem with that because it is being proffered as editorial opinion on their editorial page. That is entirely legitimate—It's just when the straight news columns are abused and the paper attempts to force feed propaganda as real, legitimate news when it obviously isn't. The cartoon and its message were infantile but it, at least, was legitimately presented on the editorial page.
The desire to defeat Devin Nunes is one of those rights which has been constitutionally guaranteed but the press should not be about destroying the reputation of an entire business which has always supplied correct information to the American voting public. Nunes, to me and millions of other Americans, has always been something of a bright spot for California in his pursuit of the truth involving the Mueller investigation and his representation of this state. California's real embarrassment, so far, has been our Governor, Attorney General, Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell and the others who have so adamantly resisted the results of a legitimate election.
Certainly everyone is entitled to a dissenting opinion but don't try to package a load of garbage as a Trojan Horse and sell your jaded view as being important and based on fact. I don't know Devin Nunes and have never even met him, but I implore that everyone judge him on his record and not the words of a “sniper.”
But, as always, that's only one man's opinion.
Fred Hall is publisher of the Sentinel.