Sunday, March 2, 2008

Kevin Keeps Karping

Jeff Merkley, candidate for US Senate, got himself into some luke warm water this week with revelations in the local media that his family had submitted an application on behalf of one of their children to attend a charter school. My experiences over the past two decades have dealt almost exclusively with higher education, so I wasn't immediately clued into the controversy here. Then Merkley surrogate Kevin Kamberg inadvertently turned up the heat by questioning the validity of the Willamette Week story and even taking the reporter to task for her intentions and journalistic ethics calling the whole story a "hatchet-job."

"Here's the thing about this - there's no evidence here. It's just the word of the extreme right-winger Rob Kremer that Beth has swallowed hook, line and sinker without even questioning it.

Why would she do that?

What motive might she have for regurgitating a right-wing smear?

Why would she assist a right-wing hatchet-job without any evidence to back it up?

Is this what passes for "journalism" at Willamette Week now?"

The reporter in question, Beth Slovic (along with the newspaper's editors) took these complaints in stride and followed up with an editorial in their print edition two days later. At this point, Merkley's staffers and surrogates didn't quite seem to be able to agree how to spin the story. Campaign spokesman Matt Canter didn't appear to question the existence of the application, but rather it's purpose. He was quoted in the first story as saying, "At some point, Jeff's wife had heard about the school and, like any parent, they decided to just check it out, but they never seriously considered sending their son there."

Other supporters tried to deflate the story by pointing out that while Representative Merkley voted in favor of limits on charter schools, he was applying under "existing law." (Not unlike how he voted to ban robo-calls but used this tactic at the start of his campaign as the law had yet to go into effect.)

As I have previously asked before, since there's no crime, why the cover-up?

Not satisfied with the the facts, Mr. Kamberg (seller of "rainsticks") wrote his own "editorial." The piece was frontpaged on BlueOregon by its "chief editor" Kari Chisholm (who happens to be on Jeff Merkley's payroll) bypassing the blog's own guidelines: Hey WW, where's the beef?

"Monday evening Willamette Week's website (aka WWire) published a piece written by Beth Slovic claiming that Jeff Merkley Submitted a Charter School Application in 2004. Wednesday she rehashed it as an editorial piece citing her own WWire piece for the street edition of Willamette Week."
In his crusade against reality, Kamberg is still trying to argue against the existence of any charter school application from the Merkleys.
"I don't see anything in either of Beth Slovic's pieces about a second source supporting Rob Kremer's assertion. The closest thing to it is an assertion in the piece that Merkley's spokesman Matt Cantor "did not deny" the allegation. But of course the failure to deny doesn't constitute a "confirmation" by any stretch of the imagination."
This seemed to have provoked a response from Willamette Week: Charter-gate: Here's the Beef

It turns out that the Merkleys submitted charter school applications for both their children. I'll leave the ramifications of this to others for now. It is worthy noting however that even after these latest reports, our rainstick maker from Forrest Grove seems still intent on sticking it to the Willamette Week.
"The point of the challenges was to get Ms. Slovic to practice at least minimal journalistic ethics. She was late doing so and it appears that she only scrambled to do so AFTER she was challenged. But late is better than not at all. Of course that only applies to her factual allegations. It doesn't address her transparent attempt to influence the upcoming OEA endorsement. When coupled with previous pieces she's published at Willy Weak, it's pretty clear that at least part of her motivation is to help Steve Novick."
Somehow, I think Portland's weekly will survive these withering attacks from Mandate-Merkley.bots.


Thom said...

Posted by: torridjoe | Mar 2, 2008 2:14:15 PM (on

Go Kevin go! Can you keep this story alive all the way until the OEA vote?


[Editor's note: It would appear that Mr. Kamberg's keyboard is missing four letters: S-T-F-U... EBT]

Pat Malach said...

Nice work, Thom!

Once again proving your photoshop mastery and sense of humor.