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Spin Control

Shea angry at S-R for Lewiston Trib item

State Rep. Matt Shea is castigating The Spokesman-Review on Facebook, essentially suggesting that the newspaper is picking on him again. He's interested in truth in journalism, so we'll offer a bit.

First, the post:  

There they go again...the Spokesman Review published another flat our untruth this morning trying to claim by implication that Dale Pearce and myself want to "rewrite the constitution." I am calling for a formal retraction by the Review. In fact, Dale Pearce was arguing AGAINST any modification or rewriting of the Constitution by an Article V convention. In the interest of truth in journalism just thought you would like to know...

Because this was posted on Thursday morning, a casual reader might assume there's something in the Thursday edition of the newspaper that mentions Shea, Pearce or the survival gathering at Farragut State Park last weekend. Don't go looking for a copy. There isn't.

There is an item in the Huckleberries blog from Wednesday which probably caught his eye, and maybe he didn't notice the date. Or maybe he assumed everything online goes into the newspaper. Or maybe he just didn't sign into Facebook on Wednesday and got around to posting Thursday. In any event, for those who don't check Huckleberries . .

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

here's that item:

Don't like the Constitution? Rewrite it

When the Constitution is gone, the government is bankrupt and total collapse is just around the corner, what should you do? You rewrite the Constitution. Of course, who says you're going to be any happier with the new one? Raising the idea was former Idaho lobbyist Dale Pearce, who joined such Tea Party favorites as Washington State Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, and Idaho state Rep. Vito Barbieri (pictured), R-Dalton Gardens, at Farragut State Park last weekend for what was billed as a “Self Reliance” rally. “Liberty once lost is lost forever,” said Pearce, who may have been on both sides of the issue. The Associated Press says Pearce backed a constitutional convention; the Coeur d'Alene Press had a different view/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Would you trust Dale Pearce, Vito Barbieri and Matt Shea to help rewrite the U.S. Constitution?

To be clear, Dave Oliveria, who writes Huckleberries, wasn't actually writing about the gathering. He was aggregating, that is, referring to things written elsewhere, by the Coeur d'Alene Press, as rewritten by the Associated Press, and editorialized by the Lewiston Tribune. So it would seem Shea's beef is actually with the Lewiston Tribune, to which Dave is providing a link. The headline is Dave's, but that's really a summary of what the other outlets wrote. The question also is Dave's, but that's what he uses to generate discussion on his blog, and it's not saying that they want to rewrite it, it's just asking for comments on whether readers would trust them to do so. This may be a bit nitpicky, but we're all operating "in the interests of truth in journalism."

As for his call for a formal retraction, the editors say they haven't received anything like that from Shea at this point. They did receive this request from Brian Welch of Athol, Idaho:

Yesterday's post by DFO is a total misrepresentation of the statements made by Dale Pearce at the NW Patriot & Self Reliance Rally. Pearce posed that scenario in a rhetorical manner, in order to further the assertion that the Constitution should NOT be changed, nor does it need to be. That, instead, it needs to be followed closer to the spirit in which it was written. 
To then lump Matt Shea & Vito Barbieri in with a false presumption is irresponsible & dishonest. 
I am deeply disappointed by this action by the Spokesman Review and request that a retraction be published forthwith.
If the paper is going to report on an event, it needs to do so in a fair manner.

Editor Gary Graham's response:

   Dave’s blog yesterday linked to an editorial by Marty Trillhaase in the Lewiston Tribune. I believe your concerns should be expressed to the writer at that newspaper. If the Tribune choses to amend, retract or clarify what it wrote, I’m sure Dave would link to that as well.
  Dave aggregates a number of articles and short items produced by a wide variety of newspapers, news services, blogs and opinion writers in an attempt to help readers know what’s making the news and what’s being commented on or discussed.

Late Thursday, after an earlier version of this post appeared, Dave Oliveria was contacted by a reporter from the CdA Press who wrote the original item, who said the AP story had, in fact, changed his story to incorrectly describe Pearce's stance on constitutional conventions. This morning Dave removed the earlier post, and provided a new post, with  a link to the AP correction that accurately reflects Pearce's comments.

What about The Spokesman-Review's own coverage? Well, we didn't cover the gathering in Farragut because there were other things going on last weekend, like the Julyamsh Powwow and the Royal Fireworks concert. So we relied on the AP story for Monday morning's paper and online news report.

Aha, some might say. You probably picked up the same mistake. Happily, no, because we shortened the AP story down to a brief, and focused on the comments of our local legislators, Shea and Barbieri. Shea's comments about preparing for an inevitable collapse of the country generated some recognition -- some might say notoriety -- for the Valley legislator in national news outlets. But he has yet to demand a retraction for any of that.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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