If you’re a resident of Loudoun County then you’ve received this week’s print edition of the Loudoun Independent and the story I first wrote about on Monday (and then revisted on Wednesday) is in your hands. Our neighbors who don’t follow blogs and on-line news sources are reading this story just tonight for the first time and they are doing so without the benefit of the discussions that have taken place both on the loudouni.com site and throughout the blogosphere. The editor at the Independent, John Geddie, Jr., has seen fit to deny requests made by several of us to withhold printing the article until solid research has been done. To make matters worse, he dedicates his editorial space to a poor excuse of a justification for this journalistic malpractice. It is a matter of adding insult to injury, and it’s even a two-fer at that: he not only insults Tag Greason’s honor and integrity he insults the intelligence of the rest of us.
The very title of the editorial is preposterous: “Does It Matter?” If it didn’t matter, why print it? Is Geddie’s day so empty, his paper’s pages so unused that he has to dive into the dung heap and pull out vicious gossip to fill the inches? Geddie’s entire premise – that such an event, truely or falsely accused, shouldn’t matter to the voters in determining who represents them – is ludicrous enough on its own. But the editorial does everything it can to keep the notion alive that hey, you know, he might have done it! – even in the face of the most obvious evidence that he didn’t. The. Charges. Were. Dismissed.
Geddie says right up front that Greason has denied the event occurred “and there are certain details that support this.” There aren’t “certain details” that support it, the attorneys in the US District Court found no merit to the accusations whatsoever and dismissed the charges. That’s the only “detail” that matters and to suggest that “certain details” “support” that it was a bogus accusation is to imply that certain others don’t. Which ones? Feel free to read the entire article but don’t get your hopes up. There are no details that do not support the dismissal. Geddie’s “reporting” on the matter has absolutely nothing to support the accusation but that’s not stopping him from continuing to suggest otherwise. Read on:
There are very few us of who did not make mistakes at 24. Most of us made mistakes much older. Being imperfect is a facet of being human and if mistakes serve a purpose, it’s to help us grow. In general, that’s why you should always listen to the advice of those who have a few years on you—the wisdom they have is likely hard-won.
A bit too often, today’s society appears to be looking for something perfect—modern incarnations of our founding fathers, who were likely as flawed and human as we are. If their ideas have survived longer than any personal foibles, then that’s because it was their ideas that were important.
Taken in the context of this discussion – and that’s Geddie’s intent, clearly – Geddie is obviously suggesting that Greason did, in fact, do as he’s been accused. Hey, after all, we all make mistakes, right? We’re all human! No one’s perfect! Even those guys with the wigs way back when were probably guilty of something, too, right? So, hey, you shouldn’t worry that this Greason guy acted in a totally unprofessional, unethical, dishonorable fashion back then. I’m sure he’s gotten over that behavior by now.
The clear problem with Geddie’s position is the same one as the original accuser – zero proof that any such thing ever occurred. She had her shot at the accusation, it was investigated, and there was nothing to it. It’s a rumor, gossip, an unsubstantiated accusation, a fabricated charge. Why’d she do it? Good question. Of course, we’d need to know who she is, first, and that’s information Geddie thinks we don’t need to know. Funny, that, considering he claims that’s not his job:
The story on page 3 is news. It’s our considered opinion that there are readers who would want to be informed of the alleged incident, whether the charges have a basis in fact or not. As a news outlet, it’s our job to deliver the news to you—not to decide what news is appropriate for you to read.
The story on page 3 is not news. It’s a rumor passed along by someone in a position to spread it far wider than most people can. And by a person who claims to be operating within the standard ethical practices of journalism, to boot. It’s my considered opinion that if someone dropped a tip on Geddie’s desk that Dave Poisson had, a few years ago, been involved in trafficking child pornography but had no evidence of any kind to back up such a ridiculous claim that Geddie would never dream of printing that accusation. Not without proof. You see, that’s the critical issue, here. It’s not a matter of the absurd statement he makes about not deciding what news is appropriate. (Of course he does, he’s the editor and he decides what stories run in his paper. What, he runs every story reported anywhere? I don’t think so.) It’s about deciding what’s news and what’s gossip.
What’s the news value in running a baseless accusation determined to be without merit or truth years ago? As close to zero as it gets.
What’s the propaganda/political value? I’m guessing it’s much more. The real news, now, is who planted this story with Geddie? Who’s he helping out and why? Who is he protecting while he facilitates their political attacks? These are important questions and the answers would be valuable. I’m certain that there are readers who would want to be informed of this stuff. For some reason, I no longer believe that John Geddie or the Loudoun Independent are very interested in what their readers what to be informed of. It’s disappointing to see the Independent choose to change formats to a gossip-rag. Disappointing and so very sad.