PLUNKETT: Senator Watson calls out Daily Journal for bias, they respond by deleting evidence.


BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett

(UPDATE: Editor Lloyd Gray claims the loss of data on the specific dates are simply a coincidence and it was due to system problems. A very interesting coincidence, indeed. Believable? You decide. But, unlike the Daily Journal’s biased report that started all this mess, I’m at least willing to update the article to reflect all the information. Are they? We’ll see.)

When Senator Michael Watson called out the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal yesterday for biased reporting that ignores any evidence that contradicts the Mississippi Dept. of Education, few of those who watch Mississippi politics could disagree. Watson gets the credit for being the first elected official to finally point it out publicly and take the Daily Journal to task for what has been obvious for years.

Specifically at issue was the Daily Journal’s ongoing love affair with MDE’s promotion of Common Core. The newspaper has continually pushed education bureaucrats talking points when evidence of the contrary abounds. The straw that broke the camels back for Watson was when Daily Journal editors opinion seeped over into the way they reported news.

Watson took specific exception to an article by Daily Journal reporter Chris Kieffer. Kieffer was covering MDE Superintendent Lynn House’s Common Core PR tour when it made a stop in Oxford. In attendance was Senate Education Chairman Gray Tollison who was also singing the praises of Common Core.

In the report, Kieffer distilled those who have voiced concerned with Common Core standards as nothing more than Obama haters.

As Watson said in his letter:

That is Kieffer’s entire treatment of those of us who have concerns. His lack of inclusion of those concerns is lazy, dishonest, biased and it is shameful.

You can read the entire letter HERE.

What was of additional interest to me was that Senator Watson summed it up and showed the pattern by mentioning the Daily Journal’s allegiance to MDE’s charter school arguments. You may recall that first they were against charter schools because they would take funding away from “public” schools, then when it became obvious the legislation was going to pass they were for them but only if they could inject severe restrictions. The Daily Journal continued to tow the MDE line throughout the those arguments and against an independent authorizer board, and against online charters.

I’m a research geek for this stuff, and I knew there was more. So, I started searching online.

Nothing. Old links to Daily Journal articles and opinions about charter schools weren’t working. What happened?

Two hours into my search I found the problem. The Daily Journal deleted their entire opinion archive from August 30, 2011 to April 1, 2013. All opinions during the entire time period when Mississippi was debating charter schools had simply vanished from the Daily Journal’s website.

Gone. (see below)

20130823-075927.jpg

This screenshot of the Daily Journal’s Opinion Archive shows all articles from September 1, 2011 through March of 2013 were deleted following criticism of bias by Senator Michael Watson.

Apparently Senator Watson’s letter laid bare something the Daily Journal didn’t want further investigated, evidence of a clear bias. So, instead of having the discussion and taking the chance that they would be found out, possibly losing media market share in the process, they simply covered their butts and deleted the evidence.

It’s possible we will see some of those opinion articles make it back into the Daily Journal archives, but I’m betting the real damaging stuff will be cleaned out once they sift through it all.

Nice try guys. But, the cats out of the bag.

The real losers here are the people in Tupelo and Northeast Mississippi. They are being fed a line of crap disguised as facts, and there are many who don’t even know it.

The Daily Journal has been a big player in the Mississippi Press Association, and Editor Lloyd Gray was a defender of the Daily Journal’s attempts to go after the names of concealed weapon holders in Mississippi. He told us to trust him, that he would act responsibly. After all, he’s a member of the press. Luckily, through the action of the legislature he didn’t get those names.

Gray has also been a proponent of the necessity of newspapers in keeping government honest. But it’s time to face the truth: the Emperor has no clothes.

Daily Journal readers would do well to understand what they get when their daily copy of the newspaper hits news stands. Or better yet, find a more trustworthy source altogether.

About Keith: Keith Plunkett has worked on communications issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by going to HorizonMediaMarketing.com or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “PLUNKETT: Senator Watson calls out Daily Journal for bias, they respond by deleting evidence.

  1. Douglas West

    From the one sided report and soft questions that I saw on WDAM news’ Common Core report, it seems they might be participating in nothing more than a P.R. campaign for the MDE adopting the Common Core standards.

  2. Pingback: WATSON: For Elected Officials who won’t roll up their sleeves–”shame on them”. | Mississippi PEP

  3. I’m curious to know if Sen Watson is a member of the Mississippi Tea Party?

  4. Pingback: Senate Conservative Coalition continues town hall tour with stop in Natchez. | Mississippi PEP

  5. Pingback: WATSON: Hall’s attack on Governor Bryant’s ObamaCare position a blatant misrepresentation. | Mississippi PEP

  6. Pingback: PLUNKETT: #CommonCore in Mississippi: A History. | Mississippi PEP

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