Advocacy: Dirty Tricks -- Or Lazy Journalism?
The Huffington Post recently reported that "gay rights advocate and blogger" @asherhuey was calling for Michelle Rhee not to speak at a leadership summit at a suburban Chicago megachurch this morning -- Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz had already backed out -- because of its anti-gay reputation. Rhee's organization defended her attendance at the event, pointing out that President Clinton and Bono have appeared at the event and that President Obama had invited the church's pastor to an immigration event. Left out of the original version of the story -- since corrected -- was that the person making the protest against Rhee's presence works for New Partners, which is affiliated with the AFT and other labor groups critical of Rhee's work. Here's the current / corrected version. It's not clear whether Huey attempted to hide his professional identity, simply didn't mention it, or wasn't asked (I've asked both parties what happened). The issue has come up several times in the Washington Post over how to identify Mark Simon (as a parent, a union activist, etc). Bottom line: To maintain credibility and avoid passing along dubious claims, journalists and bloggers need to be ever more careful about finding out who they're talking to and identifying their sources for readers. Ditto for advocates and opinionaters; your arguments are undercut mightily if it comes out later that you have a personal or professional stake. Link to scary mask pictures here.