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Leonard column presents untruthful information

By Scott Tibbs, October 15, 2004

----Original Message Follows----
From: Scott Tibbs <tibbs1973@yahoo.com>
To: Mike Leonard <mleonard@heraldt.com>
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 2004 23:16:20 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Your October 14 column

Mr Leonard;

In your October 14 column in the Herald-Times, you took Mike Sodrel to task for some of his mailings to Christian conservatives. While I disagree with your view, I understand that this is a difference of opinion that we have, and I will not take issue with the opinion you expressed at this time.I do, however, take issue with one statement of "fact" in your column. In addressing the scorecards sent out by the Sodrel campaign, you wrote:

In each case, the values scorecard gives Sodrel a "Yes" ranking and incumbent Democrat Baron Hill a "No." (It should be noted that, like Hill, conservative 8th District Republican Congressman John Hostettler also voted against the Marriage Protection Amendment).

Your statement leaves the reader with the impression that John Hostettler voted against the MPA for the same reasons Baron Hill voted against the MPA. However, the explanation Hostettler gives on his Congressional Web site is quite different from that impression.

"The so-called Marriage Protection Amendment will place marriage under the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary up to and including the Supreme Court. If you are as concerned as I am with what the Supreme Court has done with issues such as abortion, school prayer and the Ten Commandments, then you will be equally concerned with what the courts will do with marriage, adoption, child custody and all other family law."

"The amendment also allows states and the federal government to create civil unions and domestic partnerships for homosexuals. I oppose any arrangements that attempt to disguise homosexual marriages with another name. I will not amend the Constitution to allow homosexual unions to be equivalent to the marriage of one man and one woman."

It is clear that Congressman Hostettler voted against the MPA because he believed it would be a step backward for preserving marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Your reference to Hostettler's vote against the MPA misses this important fact.

What this leads me two believe is that you either did not do your research before writing this column or you presented Hostettler's vote in a dishonest manner. Neither are good traits for a journalist to have. I encourage you, as someone who seeks to present truthful information in your reporting, to issue a clarification in a future column on why Hostettler voted against the MPA. If your error of fact was a result of dishonesty rather than lack of research, I believe you owe both the Sodrel campaign and Congressman Hostettler a public apology in your column.

Thank you for your time.

Scott Tibbs


This is a follow-up to an earlier e-mail to Herald-Times columnist Mike Leonard.

I think it is clear that Mr. Leonard needs to be on the opinion page when he writes columns like the one published last Thursday. Conservatives have been saying this for years with no movement from the Herald-Times on the matter.

----Original Message Follows----
From: Scott Tibbs <tibbs1973@yahoo.com>
To: Michael Leonard <mleonard@heraldt.com>
CC: tibbs1973@yahoo.com
Subject: RE: Your October 14 column
Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004 10:31:25 -0700 (PDT)

Mr. Leonard,

I am disappointed that you decided to take this stance. I presented to you evidence that you painted an untrue picture of events to your readership, and you respond by saying that it is a "straw man" argument.

Your newspaper claims to strive for accuracy. Should its' columnists not also strive for accuracy?

What I find most troubling about your response is that you claim the Republicans have "distorted" John Kerry's voting record (a Red Herring to this discussion, by the way) while justifying your own distortion of Congressman Hostettler's voting record by saying "a vote is a vote is a vote."

It is one thing to express your opinion in your newspaper column, Mr. Leonard. It is another to intentionally distort the facts, which is what your response leads me to believe you did. Such an act undermines your credibility as a journalist and causes your readers to wonder if what they read in your column is true.

The truth is not "partisan", Mr. Leonard. However, your partisanship has apparently blinded you to this fact, as well as your own double standard.

Scott Tibbs
Bloomington, IN

----- Original Message -----
Subject:RE: Your October 14 column
From: Michael Leonard <mleonard@heraldt.com>
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2004 14:07:58 -0500
To: 'Scott Tibbs' <tibbs1973@yahoo.com>

A vote is a vote is a vote.
You seem to have no trouble when the GOP cites defense bills John Kerry voted against - bills that Cheney and other conservatives voted against, too.

Fact is, there are Christmas Tree bills that have sections that are onerous. There are weapons systems that some people in the defense community want and some they don't. Those distinctions don't get pointed out by the president and vice president.

You present a straw man argument here.

A very partisan straw man argument.