Saturday, March 13, 2010

Brian Baird Death Threats: End Of Story?

Some might recall the disquietude seen in August of last year when Democratic congressman, Brian Baird was refusing to hold face to face town hall meetings with constituents by claiming it was out of concern over the security of attendees due to some alleged death threats issued to Baird.

Here in Washington States Third Congressional District, Baird’s district, it received much attention, as any death threat must be taken seriously. As it turns out, perhaps it was deliberately taken too seriously this time.

For those of you who are not here in Wa. 03, you can read about it at Baird Milks Ryder Truck Comment, Congressman Baird, What Happened To The Death Threats?, and The Columbian: Mouthpiece For Democrats.

After calls from constituents to Baird’s offices and pressure placed on the Columbian’s editorial staff, in November, over 2 months after the claims of the death threats surfaced, we were to discover that they were not considered “credible” by the FBI, case closed.

Or, so one would think.

On February 27, 2010, my friend and fellow blogger on Clark County Politics posted the results he obtained from a Freedom of Information Act query into the so-called death threat that concluded in the heavily redacted report, “Incident close request sent 2009-08-14 19:59:46.0.”

In other words, congressman Baird KNEW at the time he relented to town halls and made the off-color remark at a Rotary Club luncheon on August 19, 2009 that there was no serious death threat made or pending. It had been investigated; contact with the offending person had been made and settled as the untoward frustrated comments from a person in Kansas, not here in Washington State.

Nearly two weeks later, we are treated to articles from our paper of record, the Columbian informing us of much the same. FBI releases details about Baird threat probe.

Managing editor, Lou Brancaccio also penned, One more Baird story saga lamenting the saga and in essence, trying to appear as if they were on top of it all long.

In late October, I had some email exchanges with Lou asking about updates and was told there were none. In comments on the papers website we were told they were making frequent calls back to D.C. asking for updates and were not receiving answers, which I too did not receive when I made calls myself to both of Brian Baird’s offices and to the Capitol Police.

That they were unwilling to answer my inquiry two months after the case was closed strikes me as odd. Of course, I’m not a journalist with press credentials either, which I would think would grant inquiries by the press more leeway to information.

In another email exchange with Lou, after they published in November that the threats were found “not credible,” I asked if writer Kathie Durbin was going to apologize to Clark County GOP Chairman, Ryan Hart for her published indications of his being offended by the August 19 comment at the Rotary Club luncheon as off-base.

After revelation today of the case being close on August 14, I feel Hart is owed a public apology by the Columbian even more as his being offended was right and in order.

Fortunately for Baird, he has announced his retirement this past December or this would definitely be a campaign issue, indicating his dishonesty with constituents.

For the Columbian, I am left to ponder if this was journalistic malfeasance on their part of not wanting to pursue a story shedding light on a Democrat they have long supported and wanting to allow the story to simply die. Or, were they duped by Baird and his staff and not wanting to look further into it.

Perhaps it is a combination of both. If journalists had treated Richard Nixon in similar manner during the Watergate scandal, he might have retired an honored man, instead of being forced to resign in disgrace.

Regardless, the Columbian recently emerged from financial bankruptcy.

Let’s hope they can also emerge from such journalistic bankruptcy as well.

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