Jennifer Hunter, the Chicago Sun-Times writer and wife of Sun-Times publisher John Cruickshank, who wrote the recent story skewered here on Newsbusters revealing a supposed "staunch Republican" from Philly who has suddenly decided to support the Democrats in 2008, has written a new piece today claiming she is being "harassed by a group of irate Republicans" because of her badly researched column. (The interviewee in her piece claimed to be a "staunch Republican" even as his cash donation records prove he almost exclusively supports Democrats) Her follow up, however, seems more like the kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar while blaming everyone around her as opposed to a satisfactory explanation of a failure to fully investigate her story.
Complaining... no, more like whining... that she has been flooded with "daily emails" calling her a liar and demanding that she be fired, Hunter-Cruickshank blames the headline writers instead of her own poor investigative work for the firestorm of criticism.
The grumbling arose partially because my editor took a small part of my story and made it into a headline: "GOP lawyer sold on Dems." Reporters don't write headlines, editors do. And they want to write something catchy so readers will read the darned story.
Certainly it is true that MSM columnists do not write their own headlines. But, it isn't the headline that is misleading it is her story and her failure to investigate the claims of her subject. Who can blame the headline writer for coming up with that headline, anyway? After one reads her original story, it seems the natural fit!
Her next obfuscation is a complaint that everyone is ignoring the actual thrust of her piece.
The story was not about the GOP lawyer; it was about the speeches five Democratic presidential candidates gave to a convention of trial lawyers (those two words "trial lawyers" also make Republicans crazy) last Sunday. As reporters usually do, I asked two attendees after the session what they thought about the speeches.
This claim is a bit disingenuous of her. Of the 17 paragraphs/sentences of her original story, 7 of them were about Ronca and his trial lawyer pals. That is close to half the story. Further, the piece started and ended with Ronca's comments while the comments of the Candidates fills the middle. This story easily reads as a story about Ronca's reaction to the candidate's statements as opposed to one focusing more on the candidate's comments.
But, this is the best line of her lamentation:
One of the men I interviewed, Jim Ronca, identified himself as a disgruntled Republican, fed up with the Bush White House, who was going to give his vote and money to Democrats. In my story I called him a "staunch Republican." His wife was standing by his side, and so was a friend, a Democrat from New York, Ted Oshman, neither of whom disputed Ronca's description of himself as a Republican.
Ah, I see. So, Ronca told her so, eh? She didn't need to do any checking, see, 'cuz the guy told her so. There. Problem solved.
So, Hunter's next story will be... "Mr. bin Ladden told me he is innocent and that he really loves puppies, Christians and a good Hollywood movie, and that he just doesn't understand why everyone is out to get him?" After all, Hunter was told it was true!
So, now all we have to do to be considered a "reporter" is to merely write what we are told and, viola... we have "news."
What happened to verifying facts, investigating a bit, eh?
She also tries to explain away Ronca's lack of supporting past GOP candidates with his financial donations but does not do a very satisfactory job.
Industrious partisans, upset that anyone calling himself a Republican could possibly think of supporting the Democrats, decided to "investigate" Ronca, an attorney from Philadelphia. And what they found, they told me, was a long history of Ronca giving more money to Democrats than Republicans. (In fact, much of the money he donated to Democrats was after George W. Bush was elected.)
Well, according to the public record, Ronca began to donate cash to Democrats in 1994. By my calendar, that is just a few years BEFORE Bush got into the White House, Mrs. Hunter-Cruickshank. Your protest rings a bit hollow there, doesn’t it?
Additionally, it is amusing that she calls us the "industrious partisans" here. After all, to belie the claim that it is she, rather than we, who is the partisan, she could easily have found some Democrats that are supporting Republican candidates this time around. You know, to prove she is unpartisan?
But, no. Instead of trying that, she finds even more people who claim to be Republicans but are supporting Democrats, making her ever the poster child for Democrats who want to further partisan ends.
Hunter ended her rambling piece detailing the less than sparkling grammar of some "Republican" emails she received taking her to task. She gives us these somewhat rudimentary (and rude) messages to make us think, I suppose, that all Republicans are of sub par intelligence. It is, of course, a straw man argument she makes, one that proves nothing.
Hunter should see some of the Democrat emails I get. The intemperance and vulgarity, not to mention the hate, in them would curl her hair. If one could write an email with a child’s fat crayon, some of the ones I get would surely be so created!
Anyway, when you get to the end of her piece, you realize that her explanation for presenting a man who has but rarely donated campaign funds to a Republican as a "staunch Republican" is ONLY that he told her so.
Her failure at incredulity makes her nothing if not credulous.
I do have to say, though, as lame an attempt as it is, her need to answer to her critics makes me realize how powerful we really are out here. We have once again forced a member of the MSM to try and justify their lack of ethics and professionalism.
Good job Newsbusters!
I do have one final question, though. How does a writer based in Chicago get access to, or even alerted to, a "staunch Republican" in Philadelphia who wants to advertise that he is supporting the Democrats, anyway? Did a little birdie whisper Jim Ronca's name into Hunter's ear at some point?