UPDATED: The Tip Line tells us that Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard has also joined the boycott of the Fayette Citizen’s blog debate. Stay Strong, Candidates. Stay Strong.
All four candidates for Fayette County Sheriff, and five of seven candidates for the Fayette County School Board, have refused an invitation from the Fayette Citizen to participate in its “Online Political Forum”. It seems that not only did the candidates believe that the questions asked were “overly negative” in tone, but have also read the blogs, and find them filled with “many slanderous and baseless attacks on the character of each candidate for office.”
The School Board candidates took the high road, and said in a joint statement, “If you would like to re-draft your questions in a positive manner, we will reconsider responding to them.”
The candidates for Sheriff were a bit more blunt:
“The candidates for the Office of Sheriff of Fayette County have discussed your invitation to participate in the online candidate forum being hosted by The Citizen. Unfortunately, we have decided unanimously not to participate in this forum, in this format.
“While we have chosen not to participate in this forum, please understand that we are not opposed to discussing our positions on issues or responding to citizens’ questions involving the sheriff’s election. Citizens with legitimate questions or concerns may attend any of the published candidate forums or contact us via email or telephone information, which is published on our individual websites.
“The blogs on the online edition of The Citizen contain many slanderous and baseless attacks on the character of each candidate for office. Many things are reported as fact when, in fact, they are little more than rumor or biased personal opinions transparently disguised as fact.
“We are more than willing to discuss issues related to our campaigns in an open forum where a sense of responsibility on the part of the questioners in important.
“In several threads from various posts online about each of the candidates for sheriff, there have been countless attacks that are completely outlandish, untruthful and defamatory to say the least. We believe that participating in a forum of this type will only invite more of these type comments and be unproductive.
“Besides, we are all busy campaigning for office and responding to baseless anonymous attacks would consume an enormous amount of time which we feel would be better spent on more constructive business.
If at this point, you’re expecting me to take the Newspaper/Blogger side of the argument over the candidates, think again. Having done political work in that area, I’m quite familiar with this paper and its personnel. What passes as “news” is heavily slanted and biased, even for a local rag. The online blogs are a complete nightmare and free for all. There appears to be no rumor too baseless to let stand. And I still hold publisher Cal Beverly responsible for Peachtree City’s election of Steve Brown, a man who set the southside utopia’s quality of life back so far in one term that he barely received 20% of the vote in his bid for re-election.
Yesterday, I posted about a candidate’s responsibility to be a grown up when running for office. Today, I present the counter responsibility of the journalism and now blogging communities to uphold standards for public discourse.
It’s rare to see such a well deserved public rebuke to a long history of yellow journalism.
Well done candidates, well done.