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Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Who’s responsible for the Associated Press’s ongoing Tim Eyman worship?

A few moments ago, NPI’s news crawler alert­ed me that the Asso­ci­at­ed Press has just dumped anoth­er half-baked — no, make that quar­ter-baked — “sto­ry” out on the wire, glo­ri­fy­ing an announce­ment Tim Eyman sup­pos­ed­ly made about attempt­ing to qual­i­fy an ini­tia­tive for the bal­lot this year.

I say sup­pos­ed­ly because I haven’t seen any oth­er news out­let report­ing that Tim is launch­ing a new ini­tia­tive cam­paign, and Tim has not (yet?) sent out an email to his sup­port­ers or post­ed any­thing at unSoundPolitics.

But it would­n’t sur­prise me if he told the Asso­ci­at­ed Press they could have an exclu­sive, know­ing that they would oblig­ing­ly write up a few one-sided para­graphs for him with­out both­er­ing to com­plete an actu­al story .

Here is what they published:

SEATTLE – Ini­tia­tive guru Tim Eyman says he’s push­ing a statewide cam­paign this year to make sure that the Leg­is­la­ture — and not the gov­er­nor’s Trans­porta­tion Com­mis­sion — is respon­si­ble for set­ting high­way tolls.

Last year, Eyman’s I‑1053 passed, requir­ing that any new or increased fees require major­i­ty leg­isla­tive approval. He says law­mak­ers vio­lat­ed that in the pend­ing trans­porta­tion bud­get by say­ing they would adopt what­ev­er toll rates the com­mis­sion deemed appropriate.

His new ini­tia­tive — I‑1125 — would require law­mak­ers to set tolls. It would reit­er­ate that gas tax and toll rev­enue must be used on trans­porta­tion spend­ing, and it would bar tolls from one project from being used to pay for anoth­er. For exam­ple, if the state decides to put tolls on Inter­state 90, that mon­ey could­n’t be used to pay for the new High­way 520 bridge over Lake Washington.

That’s all there is. This same blurb, which can’t be legit­i­mate­ly called a sto­ry, has already been pub­lished online by The Seat­tle Times, The Olympian, and a few tele­vi­sion sta­tions. It is essen­tial­ly noth­ing more than a puff pro­mo­tion­al piece for Eyman, except it’s devoid of Tim’s col­or­ful language.

(At least in terms of enter­tain­ment val­ue, Tim is a bet­ter writer than any­body the Asso­ci­at­ed Press employs).

The author of the blurb is pre­dictably not iden­ti­fied. The byline sim­ply says Seat­tle, which makes me think the three para­graphs the blurb con­tains were pro­duced by some­body work­ing out of the Seat­tle bureau a block south of the Seat­tle Post-Intel­li­gencer Build­ing on Elliott Avenue.

What we’re won­der­ing is whether the per­son wrote the above also hap­pens to be respon­si­ble for this, or whether the Eyman wor­ship is a team effort.

I wish that the equa­tion, Asso­ci­at­ed Press = Tim Eyman’s P.R. agency were unfair. After all, a wire ser­vice that’s more than cen­tu­ry old and adver­tis­es itself as “the essen­tial glob­al news net­work” should be able to pro­duce jour­nal­ism. If the A.P. is going to bite at Tim Eyman’s fish­ing line, they should do more than just para­phrase what­ev­er email he sent them. Because that’s not jour­nal­ism. That’s recycling.

Is it unrea­son­able to expect that a news orga­ni­za­tion which claims to be objec­tive should strive for objec­tiv­i­ty? I don’t think it is.

We don’t oper­ate under the pre­tense that we’re objec­tive because we like to be open and upfront with our read­ers. Our view­point and our pol­i­cy direc­tions are based on the val­ues and prin­ci­ples we believe in. Those val­ues are not a secret.

The Asso­ci­at­ed Press, on the oth­er hand, adver­tis­es itself as a not-for-prof­it news coop­er­a­tive, “deliv­er­ing fast, unbi­ased news from every cor­ner of the world to all media plat­forms and for­mats”. That’s a direct quote from their website.

There’s no way the blurb above could be con­sid­ered unbi­ased;. Eyman’s per­spec­tive is the only view­point in it. There is no oth­er view­point of any kind rep­re­sent­ed in those para­graphs, let alone a dis­sent­ing view­point. That blurb might be appro­pri­ate for P.R. Newswire, but cer­tain­ly not the A.P. Newswire.

As for Eyman’s ini­tia­tive, I‑1125, it’s dead on arrival unless Eyman has found a wealthy bene­fac­tor to fund it. Maybe his bud­dy Kem­per Free­man, Jr. agreed to give him half a mil­lion bucks. Or maybe Michael Dun­mire has agreed to resume fill­ing Eyman’s cof­fers with cash. We’ll know soon enough.

There are only around two months to go until this year’s dead­line for sub­mit­ting bal­lot mea­sure peti­tions arrives (it’s always in ear­ly July).

If Eyman is intend­ing to qual­i­fy I‑1125 to the bal­lot, he’s going to need to get hired mer­ce­nar­ies out on the street imme­di­ate­ly. Two months isn’t a lot of time to col­lect three hun­dred thou­sand signatures.

UPDATE: So, evi­dent­ly, while I was writ­ing this post, this blurb was in the process of being turned into more of an actu­al sto­ry by the Seat­tle bureau’s Gene John­son. John­son is who the Albany Times-Union (of Albany, New York) cred­its as the author of the longer piece that begins with the blurb.

Sen­a­tor Mary Mar­garet Hau­gen is con­sult­ed for the dis­sent­ing viewpoint.

The intro­duc­to­ry para­graph has also been changed to read “fre­quent ini­tia­tive spon­sor” instead of the more one-sided “guru”.

The changes are wel­come, but the exis­tence of this longer piece does­n’t jus­ti­fy the A.P.‘s pub­li­ca­tion of a half-baked, unfin­ished ver­sion. Most of the news out­lets that have picked this up still do not have the full version.

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  1. […] Who’s respon­si­ble for the Asso­ci­at­ed Press’s ongo­ing Tim Eyman worship? […]

    Ping from Morning Rundown for May 2nd, 2011 :: May 2nd, 2011 at 10:04 AM
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