A lot of money is being spent right now to influence voters. Most of that is going toward advertising – traditional broadcast advertising (TV and radio) and internet (social media, search, and other channels). Campaigns love when they can save money on getting the word out.
That’s why newspapers are a campaign resource.
The Bulletin ran a rather smarmy op-ed praising Republican Chris Piper and attacking candidate Megan Perkins for having opinions on politics. Perkins reports that the op-ed’s author, Garrett Mosher, has harassed her online in the past.
Who is Garrett Mosher? And might this be one of those cases where the public could benefit from the Bulletin having a better disclosure policy?
Here’s how Mosher describes his job: “Coordinator of Evergreen Central Oregon PAC. Garrett works with local and state level candidates and regional trades associations to develop and utilize campaign resources in Central Oregon.” (emphasis added)
Garrett here is not only the day to day coordinator of Evergreen Central Oregon PAC (operated by former Bend city councilor Scott Ramsey), he is also director of one of Tim Knopp’s partisan PACs – Oregon Reagan PAC.
Orestar reports over $30k in payments to Mosher, which I assume were for him to remain nonpartisan.
When his name appears on the Bulletin’s editorial page under a letter decrying partisanship, well, something’s up.
Here’s why this is a problem: This is a pattern with the Bulletin’s editorial page under Richard Coe.
It became a joke that the head of the local Republican Party would be printed with Metamucil-like regularity simply as, “Paul DeWitt lives in Bend.”
Readers deserve to know.
Lots of newspapers are sloppy about this and then excuse it as First Amendment rights. Others have standards.
Even a lobbyist can have personal opinions. But if you’re not fully informing your readers, they can’t judge the content appropriately.
This is a choice. Other letters could have been printed.
Mosher wasn’t the only undisclosed campaign operative on today’s page. Just today!
Brittany Richardson is an executive in the Deschutes County Republican Party and even appeared in Tim Knopp’s ads: https://youtu.be/x7uWb2PgncU
Today, she writes in sneering defense of Knopp… without disclosure.
Jessica Schimmoller had a more laudable message and arguably doesn’t require disclosure as a spouse.
But, on a day when two other Knopp operatives were published, it is curious that the wife of Knopp’s aide, Ben Schimmoller, was published too.
If the Bulletin needs more letters, they should just tell us!
Most businesses charge to run advertising. The Bulletin
remains happy to publish political operatives for free.
There is a simple fix: Ask for disclosure!
A conflict statement is all that is necessary. Then, if there is a potential conflict, simply disclose its nature on the byline.
Campaigns can still exploit the pages of the Bulletin for free, but readers should know when they’re doing that.
There is also the small matter of trust that gets pissed away when you do this. A newspaper without trust isn’t worth much.
To be clear, liberal campaign supporters have been printed without disclosure too.
But today’s trifecta is especially galling considering how Mosher’s message is rendered void once you know how he earns his money.
Richard Coe didn’t have to print that.
The new editor at the Bulletin, Gerry Obrien, recently mused whether political endorsements should end.
My constant mantra applies here too: Make the editorial board more diverse and actually use your community advisors.