Today's Bellingham Herald Headline:
Rossi was fan of pork
And there follows a long article by Les Blumenthal, a reporter on the Herald staff, that rips U.S. Senate candidate Dino Rossi for his positions on spending bills in both the state and federal governments. The "reporting" is very much slanted against Rossi and includes quotes by leading Democrats.
Gentle reader, this is a perfect example of a smear. This information has been available to the Herald for months, yet it is run on the day voters are mailing their ballots, allowing no time for rebuttal by Rossi. The very same article could have been printed two or three weeks ago, allowing Rossi to respond. And it brings up issues the Herald has hardly touched on during the past months of campaigning.
This was an opinion piece, not reporting. The headline is damning. So damning it is not repeated in the online version at the Herald website. Online the headline is totally different. And, while it is the bold top headline in the newspaper, online the editors buried it - not even putting it on their home page. After the fact, some editor at the Herald realized what had gone to press. Very poor editorial control at the Herald - probably due to the fact they have hardly any editors left.
A smear is an attack made too late in a campaign to allow a rebuttal. A smear may be true, partially true, or it may be irrelevant to the campaign. Reading just a smear, a person is given only one reasonable conclusion: that the candidate is guilty. The intention is to harm, with no time left for rebuttal. It is underhanded and cheap. A smear does not have to be false - it just has to lose votes for the candidate it attacks.
Oh, I know - Rossi will probably survive the primary. That does not excuse the Herald. We should keep this in mind as we read the Herald "reporting" over the next few months. We cannot even blame Les, the reporter, as he may have submitted this article to Herald editors days or even a couple weeks ago. We do not know. This smear goes right to the desks of the Herald's editors.