Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tim Whitmire, I Apologize

Dear Tim,

I owe you an apology. I really had no way of knowing whether you're a wannabe millionaire like I mentioned in my criticism of your sloppy article from a couple of weeks ago. It just seemed natural to accuse you of it since your article seemed to be so one-sided and your assertions all seemed to be memes started by the Hayes campaign. I guess when you accepted the Hayes camp's story without checking it out it seemed to me you must be cozy with Carolyn Hern. I apologize. I was a bit crude and used some tacky figures of speech and again, I apologize.

I also called you a hack. Well, few journalists enter the field with the thought of commercial success. I certainly wouldn't want anyone to think I was implying you had received anything from the Hayes camp in exchange for your sloppy reporting on Larry Kissell. No. I don't think they gave you any money to write an article so void of factual support.

While I do sincerely apologize for calling you names, I'm not going to back away from my claim that you practised very sloppy journalism. You got more wrong than you got right. You're a professional and I expect better than that from you. I'm fessing up to all the things I got wrong about you, so let's do a quick rundown of some of the things you got wrong as well so folks just reading this will have some perspective.

While the AP was quick to make a correction of this glaring factual error, I don't know why you would say that the district has the same number of Republicans as Democrats when that information is easily found at the NC Board of Elections. I can't imagine a motive for you to intentionally mislead your readers and you certainly aren't so lazy that you wouldn't check that information out, right? I guess it was just a mistake.

I also can't figure out why you would say that Larry entered this race to teach his high school students about civic responsibility. Larry has never said anything like that. That was a meme being pushed by the Hayes camp not long ago. Surely you are much too professional to just take that information and not check it out, right? That would certainly be a dead giveaway that you were cozy with Carolyn or (((shudder))) Garth. One simple phone call to the Kissell campaign could have straightened that little tidbit out, so surely you aren't so lazy you wouldn't call the Kissell camp, right? I guess it was just another mistake.

Then there's that little bit about Larry Kissell having so little money that the only thing he can afford to do is go door-to-door talking to voters. Now, it's true that Larry is sorely underfunded. It is true that he campaigns in a traditional grass roots style by knocking on doors. It is also true that Larry has ads on radio and television in every market in the district. That's another little fact that could have been established had you bothered to call the Kissell campaign. I can't imagine you would know and intentionally leave that out. I'm sure you're much too professional for that. I guess that's just another mistake.

Finally, because I just can't bear to go look for anymore mistakes, there's this bit about CAFTA the goat. You said that as recently as last spring Larry was campaigning with a goat named CAFTA. Well, Tim, CAFTA was retired to pasture after attending two parades in late November of 2005. Now, I haven't checked my calendar and maybe I'm wrong, but the last time I did check, November was found in late Autumn. Larry received the goat as a gift from mill workers who had lost their jobs to free trade agreements. CAFTA made a couple of appearances and then was put to pasture to happily live out the rest of his life. For some unknown reason, you have him campaigning with Larry six months after he has retired. One more mistake.

Four (or more) mistakes in one article is quite a lot, especially since verifying your information could have been accomplished with one phone call. But, I'm going to take back all the ugly things I said about you. I apologize. It doesn't really matter what your financial aspirations are or whether you are friendly with the Hayes camp. Let's stick with the facts, since that is what I'm fussing about to begin with. That fact is, based on that piece, you aren't very good at collecting factual information on which to base your articles.

Take care, Tim. Best of luck with that journalism career.

Your friend,



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