The Enquirer and the Art of the GOP Smear
People who read The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Politics Extra blog might get the idea that David Pepper, Democratic candidate for the Hamilton County Commission, supports building a new jail in Colerain Township.
There are a few problems, however, with the claim: There is no record that Pepper ever made such a proposal, he doesn’t know anything about the site mentioned, and — in what’s become a typical Enquirer trait — the posting doesn’t present any comments from sides of the issue other than the group that issued the press release.
The blog entry posts verbatim a five-paragraph press release issued by the Hamilton County Township Association. It quotes Kathy Wagner, a Symmes Township trustee who is the group’s president, and lists Tom Weidman, a Sycamore Township trustee, as the media contact. Both Wagner and Weidman are Republicans active in the local party.
According to the Enquirer blog and the press release, “Pepper proposed that the Educational Service Center, which commissioners (Phil) Heimlich and (Pat) DeWine would like to sell to the Educational Service Center Board, be the site of the new jail.”
The township group cites two press releases issued by Pepper, on June 2 and 6, as its source for the claim. Pepper’s releases, though, criticized commissioners for selling numerous county-owned properties without competitive bids. Pepper’s release stated the county could make more money to put toward the jail by using a bidding process.
Pepper’s release proposes “tabling the decision made by Heimlich to sell county-owned property that might be useful for the jail location.” But it continues by endorsing an engineering analysis to determine the proper site for a jail, adding, “If that analysis shows that a purchase of property is necessary, swiftly move forward to conclude the siting and purchase of the necessary property.”
Pepper said today, “There’s no specific site in mind. My comments were responding to a general practice by the county. I’ve never proposed (the Colerain site) and (Commissioner Todd) Portune never proposed it. It’s literally a lie. It’s the art of a smear.”
The blog entry is the latest example of what many local officials have said is biased or unbalanced reporting in the Enquirer.
As an example, they cite the page 1A story that ran June 12 about Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory’s city manager nominee, Milton Dohoney Jr. The article proclaimed Dohoney “a hit” at every stop on a weekend walking tour, but quoted no one else besides Dohoney.
— Kevin Osborne