In a stunning admission of partisanship the editor of the Spokane Spokesman Review, Steven A. Smith, admits in print that his paper has adopted the tactics of the fringe homosexual activists who’ve led a campaign to out conservative legislators and officials. Most prominent gay organizations have specifically condemned the outing campaigns carried out on blogs like BlogActive and AmericaBlog, whose tactics the Spokesman Review appears to be imitating.
In a series of headline stories today, the Spokesman Review details a three year investigation into the private life of Spokane’s Republican mayor Jim West.
For a quarter century, the man who is now Spokane’s mayor has used positions of public trust – as a sheriff’s deputy, Boy Scout leader and powerful politician – to develop sexual relationships with boys and young men.
One man claims in a court deposition that Jim West molested him in the mid-1970s when he was a boy and West was a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy and Boy Scout leader. A second man also accuses West of sexual abuse during the same era, including an incident at Camp Cowles, a Boy Scout camp on Diamond Lake.
In addition, an investigation by The Spokesman-Review has revealed that 17 months after leaving the state Legislature, West has used the trappings of the mayor’s office to entice and influence young men he met on a gay Web site.To which the mayor replied:
Today a series of articles in The Spokesman-Review leveled allegations against me about my private life. I am a law-abiding citizen, and I believe my public record of service stands on its own merit.
Allegations about my private life were two-fold. I categorically deny any allegations about incidents that supposedly occurred 24 years ago as alleged by two convicted felons and about which I have no knowledge. The newspaper also reported that I have visited a gay chat line on the Internet and had relations with adult men. I don’t deny that.Most illuminating is the timeline of the papers investigation.
Follow the logic of that timeline. The Spokesman Review has two allegations from convicted felons they received via the whisper vine, for which there’s no corroborating evidence nor apparently any criminal investigations. The paper has these two allegations shelved for several years, before mounting an online sting operation to prove that the mayor is gay. Once their sting establishes that the mayor is in fact gay (or bisexual), they use his homosexuality as an excuse to also report on the uncorroborated charges from 24 years ago. Is the paper stereotyping homosexuals as child molesters to make its case?
In case you think that’s the only shocking display of questionable journalistic ethics, here’s the real appalling part of the story. Spokesman Review editor Steven A. Smith adopts the logic of homosexual activist Michael Rodgers (in his BlogActive GOP outing campaign) in his defense of the newspapers work (emphasis mine):
Through the use of public records, court documents, first-person accounts and a forensic computer expert, the newspaper has uncovered evidence that West has led a secret life for more than 25 years. Beyond the serious allegations of sexual abuse, West had been using his position in the Legislature to block gay-rights legislation. And he has been trolling the Internet for young lovers while while serving as mayor of Spokane, offering gifts and favors.
At BlogActive such language implies that closeted GOP members who don’t toe the line in supporting the homosexual rights agenda deserve their outings.
Has a major US newspaper just employed that same justification for a story? It sure looks like it.
You can ask Smith here – Spokesman Review Ask The Editors Blog
Update: A Clear Voice looks at the charge that Jim West is a hypocrite.