Monday, October 16, 2006

A reign of error at the Herald-Times

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: A reign of error at the Herald-Times
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2006 12:02:29 -0700 (PDT)
From: Scott Tibbs <>

Mr. Schurz,

In his October 12 article on the race between Mike Sodrel and Baron Hill, Steve Hinnefeld wrote the following paragraph:

Hill said his opposition to changing the Constitution doesn't mean he opposes traditional marriage or the flag. Rep. John Hostettler, the conservative Republican from Indiana's 8th District, also voted against the marriage amendment.

This would lead one to believe that John Hostettler opposes a ban on homosexual marriage at the federal level. Does John Hostettler agree with Baron Hill and disagree with his fellow Republican, Mike Sodrel? That is simply not the case. Representative Hostettler released the following statement on the MPA:

"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."

Almost exactly two years ago, Herald-Times columnist Mike Leonard made the same "mistake" that Hinnefeld did in his article. Leonard tried to justify his distortion of Rep. Hostettler's position, but I am reminded of something a friend once told me: "A lie does not consist of the words you say, but of the thought you convey."

My hope is that Hinnefeld's mistake, unlike Leonard's, was unintentional. If Hinnefeld's error was intentional, then the Herald-Times must take steps to make it very clear that this type of intentional distortion will not be tolerated. Even if it was unintentional, it is highly unfortunate that Hinnefeld failed to do some very simple research on Hostettler's position on the MPA, research that would have taken less than five minutes. This is an unacceptable lack of effort.

It was just two weeks ago that Mike Leonard was caught fabricating a Congressional vote that never took place. Leonard's dishonest column two years ago, Leonard's intentional fabrication earlier this month, Bob Zaltsberg's breaking of his own policy by printing two letters making unverified claims against Mike Sodrel, and Hinnefeld's (hopefully unintentional) distortion of Rep. Hostettler's record can cause a reasonable person to come to the conclusion that the Herald-Times is actually an in-kind contribution to Baron Hill's campaign for Congress.

The Herald-Times continues to lose credibility as a Monroe County's main news source. For the good of the paper, I urge you to take action to prevent these kinds of mistakes (or worse, intentional distortions and even fabrications) from taking place. The Herald-Times has a responsibility to the people of Bloomington and Monroe County to present factual and truthful information. You have failed too many times in this regard.

Scott Tibbs