Pretty easy to see what you’re up to, Devin. I’m telling you right now. It won’t work.
This attempt of yours to discredit The Fresno Bee, first with paid ads and now with a 40-page magazine-style mailer with layout and design reminiscent of an ‘80s yearbook staff, only reveals you as the giant propagandist you are.
I stopped getting your mailers at my house months ago, just around the time I started writing about what a terrible job you’re doing as my congressman. When my fellow registered voters of CA-22 received your latest fabrication over the weekend, I felt left out.
But when I got home from work Monday and checked the mail, there it was. My very own copy. Perfect timing on your part, because it makes what I’m about to say even more personal.
Your cherry-picked half truths, mischaracterizations and outright lies aren’t worth the glossy paper they’re printed on. No amount of donor money can buy integrity.
Here’s a secret about journalists, Devin. We’re a little suspicious of everybody, regardless of political stripe. We’re not inclined to take anyone at their word. Trust but verify. When a reporter sits at the keyboard, they’re nobody’s friend.
So when you try to align us with liberal extremists or draw us as socialists with hammer and sickle flags, the punches don’t land.
You can repeat your Big Lie as often as you want, but no one from The Fresno Bee has ever “creeped” around your grandmother’s house. We don’t “team up” with outside organizations. Reporters who cover the demonstrations outside the Clovis office you never visit don’t “participate” in anything except gathering news.
Journalists don’t believe in any cause, except finding and telling the truth.
That’s really what you’re scared of, isn’t it? The truth. You don’t want the truth about you getting out there.
You don’t want the story told about how you’ve brushed aside your constituents to attach yourself to President Trump’s hindquarters. You don’t want people to know about the limo rides, fancy restaurants, five-star hotels and courtside seats at Boston Celtics games. You don’t want to be constantly reminded it’s been eight years (!) since you attended a public forum in your district. Or circulate that grinning photo of you and the guy flashing a white-supremacist sign.
The Fresno Bee, along with McClatchy reporters at our Washington, D.C., bureau, is the only local media outlet telling those stories.
Without us, you’d be free to do as you please – without anyone asking questions. No wonder you want us shipwrecked and drowned.
“When you look at history, the first thing dictators do is shut down the press.” A journalist didn’t say that, Devin. John McCain did.
I want to say something about the story that probably angers you the most, the one about the winery you partially own getting sued for emotional distress and sexual harassment following a fundraiser held on a yacht. That’s newsworthy, whether you like it or not. We gave you multiple opportunities to tell your side. If you had, your side would have been prominently included.
But here’s the real point: For the sake of argument, let’s say it wasn’t you but Democratic Rep. Jim Costa who was a partner in that winery. We would still have written the story, just like we wrote about TJ Cox claiming his primary residence in Maryland. If we didn’t, the same person howling “yellow journalism” and “hit job” in your mailer would go on the radio and accuse us of bias. And the same person who printed it would use our story as the basis for attack ads on behalf of Costa’s Republican opponent.
That’s straight from your playbook.
I’ll bet a good number of the people whom you quoted in that mailer had no idea their words and mug shots would be included in such a propaganda stunt. I’ll bet some of them feel embarrassed.
Not that you care. You’ll do whatever it takes, even throw the Fresno County district attorney under the bus, to push your false narratives. No matter if District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp happens to be the daughter-in-law of one of your biggest supporters.
The difference between you and us, Devin, is that we actually have ethics. We check facts and sweat details. We have standards that must be met. We tell multiple sides. In an age when many people can’t tell the difference between news and opinion and unwittingly fall victim to false information, we’re making strides to be more transparent in what we do.
Meanwhile, you’re free to spout ridiculous conspiracy theories on your in-house podcasts. Russia is financing environmentalists? Really, Devin? Where’s the evidence?
Every reporter, editor and visual journalist who walks up the stairwell to our newsroom passes a framed reminder that reads, “Our mission: to inform and advocate for the enhancement of life in the Valley.”
There might be fewer of us than 10 or 20 years ago, but those who remain wake up every day knowing that in these divisive times the work we do is vitally important. Journalism isn’t just a job. For us it’s a calling.
So no matter what you tell people, no matter the falsehoods you plant, we’re not going anywhere. We’re not backing down. Our commitment to our mission, and our readers, is as strong as ever.
The Fresno Bee was here before you, Devin, and we’ll still be here, rooted in the Valley, long after you’ve retired from politics and joined your family in Iowa.
Go ahead and take me off your mailing list.
Marek Warszawski: 559-441-6218, @MarekTheBee