Friday, March 26, 2010


Q. “What is the difference between the Salt Lake City Weekly and your run-of-the-mill Supermarket Tabloid?”

A. “You have to pay for the Supermarket Tabloid.”

Writer Ed Grabianowski stated, “In a highly regarded newspaper like the New York Times or Washington Post, the facts in a news story are meticulously checked and confirmed with multiple sources (when everything goes as it should). Editors and writers conform to journalistic standards and work hard to maintain an overall sense of objectivity. Tabloids don't seem to follow any of these rules.”

For years, Utah’s “Alternative” weekly, has masqueraded as a “newspaper.” In fact, its stories are nothing more than “yellow journalism” of the common supermarket variety. Pulitzer Prize winner Frank Luther Mott could have been speaking of the City Weekly when he defined “yellow journalism” as using misleading headlines in huge print, lavish use of imaginary drawings and dramatic sympathy with the "underdog" against the system.

Tabloids also use their ink to falsely attack those who call them what they are. Ever since I asked the above question on a televised debate on KUED with my former opponent for AG, City Weekly founder and senior editor, John Saltas, and his tabloid have been on a vendetta using every opportunity to defame and slander me with the yellowest of journalism. A few cases in point:

The cover of last week’s edition of the City Weekly, pictured here, is for a story entitled “2010 Legislative Wrap-up” and prominently features me presumably as a Nazi. (Apparently Saltas and editor Jerre Wroble don’t know the difference between Nazism and Communism.) The cover is from a famous Socialist worker poster. But why include me on the cover at all? I am not a lawmaker and nothing in the “wrap-up” criticizes my involvement in the session. What I am is the Weakly’s favorite whipping boy in that I dare call them what they are, enforce the rule of law and stand for everything good and decent about our community to which they proudly proclaim they are the “alternative.”

The City Weekly has run a series of stories alleging ethical concerns about me and the Attorney General’s Office. The weekly tabloid should dust off a copy of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics and take a look at its own practices before throwing stones. Two of the main standards in the SPJ Code are “Seek truth and report it” and “Be Accountable.” Their March 16 story “The Company You Keep” by Eric Peterson fails on both counts. In that story Peterson insinuates that I have meddled in the way administrative citations were handled against Mentoring of America. What the story did not include was this information given to Peterson on March 9, 2009: “The decision on how to resolve proceedings against Mentoring of America was made by the Division of Consumer Protection, not the Attorney General’s Office.” This information was provided to Peterson by the Utah Attorney General’s Office and confirmed to him by the Utah Division of Consumer Protection. It was also included in City Weekly’s latest records request. No new evidence is provided that I interfered in any decision regarding Mentoring of America because it simply did not happen. But that fact would leave Peterson without his salacious story.

The story then suggests that attorneys within my office were “questioning” my acceptance of campaign donations. Assistant Attorney General Blaine Ferguson brought the issue up in an e-mail because City Weekly continued to question the donations. Blaine Ferguson knows personally that I have never put any pressure on anyone to give favors to a donor. In fact my record shows that this office has sued and convicted donors, fellow party members, friends and relatives.

The second e-mail in question was from Chief Deputy Attorney General Kirk Torgensen about vetting potential campaign contributors. Torgensen mistakenly assumed that no vetting took place on a potential donor because of Peterson’s reporting. However, the e-mail does not reflect that Torgensen learned later that the vetting was done. This information was shared with Editor Jerre Wroble but was not included in the story.

City Weekly also reported that Tim Lawson worked for my campaign even though the newspaper was told Lawson was not a campaign staff member. Lawson was mistakenly listed as staff on an inauguration guest list because the list was needed in one day. I corrected my mistake. City Weekly did not.

Finally, most of the records obtained by City Weekly were not posted on the newspaper website but they include an e-mail to City Weekly’s publisher containing a long list of errors and outright falsehoods in Eric Peterson’s previous stories. Click
here to read a copy of that email. A longer list of blunders could be made based on Peterson’s subsequent story. However, City Weekly has never published any corrections to any of Peterson’s fairy tales.

The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics states that journalists should “Admit mistakes and correct them properly.” Scandalmonger Eric Peterson and The City Weekly tabloid continually show a complete disregard for truth, fairness or accountability.

Salt Lake City Enquirer Weekly stories remind me of a question Abraham Lincoln once asked a fibber like Eric Peterson,

"How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

“Five,” replied the ink slinger confidently.

“Four,” explained Lincoln. “Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."

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