Tuesday, September 12, 2000
While other newspapers in the area have refused, the Polk
County Itemizer Observer is running a paid political insert this
week from congressional candidate Brian
It's important you know
It's not the money. The money brought in
by one campaign insert means very little to the fortunes of the
newspaper. It's also not because we endorse Brian Boquist. We
don't endorse candidates for public
We feel that's a decision best left
To tell you the truth, we find
Boquist's insert troubling. He claims he's not throwing mud
at incumbent U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley, just pointing out her
record. He may actually believe that.
see, however, are issues reduced to the lowest common denominator.
Boquist oversimplifies Hooley's record by not bothering with
the subtle whys and wherefores of her votes. He simply goes for the
Most bills that go before Congress
come with a dizzying array of attachments and riders. You can pick
apart any bill and find something to
Specifically, look at Boquist's
statement that Hooley voted on four different occasions in support
of the use of taxpayer funds for abortion services in foreign
That's really stretching things.
Hooley voted for United Nations aid packages to provide, among
other things, family planning information to women in Third World
Some of the money from that package
may have gone to agencies that offer abortion services. Is it
accurate to say Hooley endorses tax-funded abortions in foreign
Boquist also points out that Hooley
voted against a patients' bill of rights. Yes she did. It was a
bill of rights drafted by insurance companies. She opted for
One could argue that Boquist is
technically accurate in every instance, but it's a case of
being accurate without necessarily being true. Mudslinging is not
just erroneous attacks on a person's character. It's
throwing out the facts in a way that makes the other person look
We know. We deal with facts every day that,
worded just right, could make people look cruel or ignorant.
However, we know that facts don't exist in a vacuum. They exist
in a context. Without reporting that context, we're just
playing word games. We're not really telling the
Having said all that, it's important
to run Brian Boquist's take on Darlene Hooley's record.
First of all, he has a right to say it. We would run similar
sentiments in a letter to the editor.
to run opinions that are libelous or obscene. People can debate
whether or not Boquist's comments are in good taste, but they
are neither libelous or obscene. Our system of government only
works when there is a vast marketplace of
One of our roles in that process is to
keep the debate of public issues as open and robust as possible.
That means allowing tones we may find too harsh or ideas we may not
agree with at all.
We understand why other
newspapers decided differently. It's not an easy question. We
wrestled with it quite awhile before coming to our decision. We
want to be fair, but we also want to give everyone a turn at the
mike. Congresswoman Hooley has as much opportunity as Brian
We want to err on the side of openness.
We trust, in that grand American tradition, that the truth will
rise out of a chorus of conflicting voices.