A little difference of opinions over covering the news

On his contribution-financed news website, The Nevada Independent, editor Jon Ralston posted a commentary, under the headline “Cutting off The Indy spites the public we serve,” this week complaining about public officials refusing to talk to his reporters — specifically state Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, Attorney General Adam Laxalt and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller.

The piece quoted a Roberson aide as texting a reporter: “Senator Roberson only provides commentary to reputable news outlets. He does not consider The Nevada Independent as such.”

At one point Ralston suggested that elected officials refusing to talk to certain reporters was tantamount to violating public records laws.

He proclaimed:

“This is not about me or our team of journalists whining about access. This is about public officials, staffers, and agencies depriving the public of important information, context and nuance. They are not hurting me or The Indy. They are sullying the civic fabric by preventing access to information that drives essential public dialogue.

“Finally, a word on a laughable claim. Roberson, Laxalt and Heller have whispered that I am a Democratic partisan. Not only is that not so, but it is low to insinuate and patently false to say that any of our news stories have a partisan slant. Indeed, anyone who knows any of our reporters knows none of them would stand for me trying to inject my bias into their stories, even if I tried, which I never have and never would.”


In the online-no-love-lost-between-rivals there came a couple of rejoinders.

Victor Joecks, a conservative Review-Journal columnist, responded on Twitter with this critique: “Free advice: Conflating a govt official not responding to a reporter’s request for comment with a govt official not answering a public information request is one of the reasons folks think you’re a hack and just out to smear them.”

But conservative blogger Chuck Muth unleashed a 1,200-word diatribe that had to leave a welt.

Muth pointed that two days earlier Ralston had penned a screed in which he outlined the standards The Nevada Independent would use to cover elections. Ralston said that “there is no public benefit in covering candidates who have clearly demonstrated they are unfit for public office or who have zero chance of getting elected no matter what coverage they get.”

To which Muth replied, “In short, Blogger Jon will subjectively decide who is a credible candidate worthy of attention and who isn’t.”

Muth twisted the knife:

It seems a number of candidates and elected officials don’t consider the Ralston Rag to be a credible news organization and have been refusing to give his newsblog the time of day.

Indeed, Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson is quoted as saying he only “provides commentary to reputable news outlets” and “does not consider The Nevada Independent as such.”

In other words, Roberson is treating Ralston the exact same way Ralston, just two days earlier, announced he’ll be treating certain candidates based on credibility.  Shoe on the other foot.  Sauce for the goose.

Ralston went on to spew forth his venom at Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller for also blowing off interview requests from the Ralston Rag, whining that such blacklisting “is not just puerile (Jon loves to use fancy words to appear smarter than everyone else); it’s unethical and unconscionable.”

7 comments on “A little difference of opinions over covering the news

  1. A.D. Hopkins says:

    Seems to me even if Ralston is imperfectly objective as you and Muth assert, he has fewer conflicts than mainstream media of Las Vegas now and historically. The Las Vegas Sun, The Las Vegas Review-Journal all carried water for their owners and their interests, and the late Valley Times, nostalgically remembered for the excellence of its coverage, notoriously held off reporting an important story until it had no chance of influencing a gubernatorial election against its favored candidate. Does anybody remember the late TV station owner Jim Rogers, and his one-sided and favorable coverage of the terrible Supreme Court justices he hoped to get reelected? I have had my issues with Ralston, but his medium does a great service to Nevada’s people.

  2. Muth asserted. I merely quoted Muth.

    Of course, objectivity is difficult to attain for humans.

  3. James G. Wright says:

    I second AD’s comment, but I also detect the distinct odor of skunk urine in this dustup.

  4. deleted says:

    I tried to find the most relevant place for this, knowing how much readers here have professed interest in “transparency” in government and I figure this is as good a place as any.

    It’s a really great article that contains links to other articles written about particular agencies within the government and how they are failing at being transparent.

    A cautionary tale to be sure.


  5. Give it a quick read, but that is the attitude of a lot of government officials. CYA.

  6. deleted says:

    I’m surprised at tht response Thomas. A little anyway. I realize that the state is dominated and has been for years by republicans, and is home to the Koch Brothers, but a law that allows the sponsor of laws to stay anonymous and to have the votes taken in the legislature anonymously?

    I really thought you’d be more….vocal in your disagreement. “Everyone does it”? Really?


  7. No, I said that is their propensity, which is why constant vigilance is necessary.

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