Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The D Smears Trustee Candidate

Okay, "smear" might be too strong a word for my headline. But turnabout's fair play, right?

A headline in Dartmouth's daily campus paper, The Dartmouth, yesterday read, "Asch '79 withheld business past." That's a misleading headline, and it's unfair to Asch. It implies that the paper just discovered that Asch has been hiding something, when in fact there's no new revelation at all. The D's story is basically, "Asch didn't answer all of our questions in the past, which you already knew, but we figured out the answers anyway, and here they are."

"Withholding" implies that the man had something he was supposed to give up but didn't, like withholding evidence from a defense attorney. No, he just didn't answer a college kid's questions. It might have been fair to run a headline a few weeks ago saying, "Asch Declines To Comment On Business Past," but it's pretty bogus to use the past tense "withheld" as if something ethically shady is just now coming to light. This is what we call trashy tabloid journalism, but I've come to expect little better from The D.

Asch is no angel in this story. He did indeed decline to tell The D that he ran a medical needle manufacturing company, which in and of itself would be fine, there's nothing wrong with not telling a student reporter everything about your private life, except he's tried to make his opponent for trustee's past a major issue in the race. Even though I'm supporting Asch, I have to be candid, it's a little hypocritical to harp about your opponent's past while refusing to discuss your own. Still, though it's not great, it's also not the scandal reflected in The D's headline.

I haven't mentioned the reporter's name in this post because usually reporters don't write their own headlines. I certainly never did at the Spokane Spokesman Review, and rarely did at the Dartmouth Free Press. Whoever it was, though, certainly screwed up. I support Joe Asch for Trustee, and The D owes him an apology.

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