Ugh, Democrats…

Not surprisingly, Utah’s minority party completely screwed up their response to Gov. Gary Herbert’s State of the State address Wednesday night.

I happened to be watching the address on KSL-TV. After the governor finished speaking, the anchors on the tee vee lookie box urged their audience to switch over to their website for live streaming of the Democratic response.

Makes sense. For years Utah Democrats have provided a pre-taped response that television (and radio) ran either on the air or online. At the very least the response was available for playback later.

So, I whipped out my laptop, dialed up the live stream and saw this:

State_of_the_State__Democrats_response

 

Nothing but a blank wall. Occasionally the camera guy would walk back and forth in front, but there was nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada.

Turns out the Dems were holding a press availability for their response outside of the House chambers. That’s nice and all, but they had a prime opportunity to respond to the governor without their comments being reduced to sound bites and blurbs.

Don’t think this was KSL’s screw up.

About 10 minutes after the live stream started, I heard the camera operator answer his phone. From his side of the conversation he clearly said “I don’t know where they are. I came to the desk, told them what I was there for,  and they escorted me back here and told me this is where I should set up.”

This went on for a while. More phone calls from the station to the camera guy. Calls to KSL’s reporters who were at the press conference.

I’d like to say this was an anomaly, but I can’t.

I’ve long contended Utah’s Democrats have absolutely zero idea how to handle the media. They think they know how to handle the media. They are convinced they know how to handle the media…but they don’t.

Case in point – they held their pre-legislative conference on the Tuesday before the session started. That’s a terrible time to do it. Nobody is really paying attention yet.

Hey, here’s an idea. Why not have your press conference about the opening of the Legislature when the Legislature opens? Tuesday was a dead media day. All of the committees were about appropriations and budgets. You have a captive media corps who are bored and just looking for something to cover.

Utah’s Democrats complain they can’t break through in the media. If they ever figure out how to use the media to maximize their message, they might be able to expand outside of Salt Lake County.

 

When activism masquerades as journalism, everybody loses

[UPDATE: Utah Political Capitol has taken down the post I referenced in this article].

Amid the furor surrounding news that Attorney General John Swallow would not be prosecuted by the feds, something very curious happened.

The folks over at Utah Political Capitol posted an article headlined “Media Statement: AG Swallow was NOT Cleared of Wrongdoing.” (It has since been changed to an “editorial,” but the URL still contains the title “media statement”)

A media statement? That’s weird. Maybe they just got mixed up because of breaking news. That happens sometimes.

But, then – a reporter friend of mine forwarded a very interesting email to me. It’s an actual media statement from the “staff” of UPC sent out as a press release. My acquaintance, who has never received anything from UPC via email before, was taken aback as this was clearly targeted at reporters.

Here’s the email:
UPC Swallow Email

 

In my 20+ years in the media, I’ve never seen a news outlet send out something like that before. Maybe a press release touting an interview or a big story coming up, but never an out-and-out press release with the goal of inserting themselves into the story.

It calls into question the motivations of UPC.

I’ve said it before – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with partisan media, as long as they’re honest about who they represent. In this case, UPC is masquerading as a non-partisan group, but they clearly have a lefitst axe to grind here. I’ve even had one prominent Democrat tell me UPC is nothing more than “a bunch of stooges for the Democratic Party.” Clearly, UPC is not being honest about who they are and what they are trying to do.

This blurring of the lines between news and activism is troubling. Inserting themselves into the John Swallow story, as it’s clear they were trying to do with their press release, is not acceptable if they want to be considered a legitimate news outlet. What’s worse is they are treated as such by other organizations, frequently appearing as commentators on local TV news broadcasts.

In my role as Managing Editor for Utah Policy.com, I come up against this all the time. Our publisher, LaVarr Webb, is a longtime Republican and now is on the board of Count My Vote. Whenever we do a story about CMV, we are careful to point that out, lest people question our motivation for reporting on a story. We also run “sponsored articles” paid for by advertisers from time to time, but we make it abundantly clear it is a sponsored story.

What’s even more alarming is this happens on the very day the Salt Lake Tribune announces another round of layoffs.

All in all, a very troubling day for journalism in Utah.

Utah’s Democrats are trying to freeze me out

You would think I was doing something wrong. For some reason, the Utah Democrats have taken me off their press release list and won’t respond to my requests to be put back on.

I’ve emailed communications director Anna Thompson many times asking why they have seen fit to remove me from their distribution list. At first she said she was “checking into it.” Then she said she would “fix the problem.” Now they have gone radio silent.

The same thing has happened with the Senate and House Democratic caucuses.

Yes, I’ve been critical of the Democrats, but that’s no reason to completely remove me from their email list.

For the record, I’m still getting Chairman Jim Dabakis’ monthly email newsletter screeds without fail.

Thankfully, a friend is forwarding their press releases to me. I just hope they don’t figure out who that is so they can remove them as well.

Maybe I can get back on their lists before they actually do something newsworthy.