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Turns out a ‘sinister agenda’ wasn’t a winning agenda
Our free press was blessed by a couple of election results.
On Monday, Republican candidate for Arizona governor Kari Lake, a longtime TV anchor who grew up in Iowa and graduated from the University of Iowa, lost after making vilifying reporters a cornerstone of her Trump-backed campaign.
“I’m going to be your worst fricking nightmare for eight years, and we will reform the media as well,” Lake told reporters on Election Day. “We are going to make you guys into journalists again, so get ready.”
Alas, the Lake School of Journalism closed before it could open.
In Iowa, Republican state Senate President Jake Chapman was defeated. Chapman accused journalists of pursuing a “sinister agenda” to harm children.
“It has become increasingly evident that we live in a world in which many, including our media, wish to confuse, misguide, and deceive us, calling good evil and evil good. One doesn’t have to look far to see the sinister agenda occurring right before our eyes,” Chapman said in his speech on the opening day of the 2022 legislative session
Unhinged paranoia didn’t turn out to be a winning agenda.
So does Chapman’s loss mean reporters will find smoother sledding as they cover Iowa’s deep red Statehouse? I’m not optimistic.
On Election Day, KCRG TV9 was barred covering the Republican Party of Iowa’s election night event in Des Moines. The party claimed it was limiting access due to capacity limits.
Or maybe it was KCRG’s reporting questioning whether Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver actually lived in his new district. There were also some fact checks on Republican claims the Iowa GOP did not like. And the decision to bar the station came a week after Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann angrily called out KCRG at a Cedar Rapids event. You might recall the “two-faced Todd Dorman” rant.
But no, it was surely limited space on the press risers.
Maybe you remember in January, when majority Republicans kicked Statehouse reporters out of press benches on the Senate floor, where journalists covered proceedings for 140 years. Again, the excuse was capacity, namely a lack of space for “non-traditional media outlets.” In reality, they wanted to justify denying credentials to Laura Belin, who runs the liberal online political news site Bleeding Heartland.
Speaking of Belin, she reported in October that Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds held just four formal news conferences in the second half of 2021 and only 10 in 2022, the last one on July 12. This despite a campaign promise in 2018 to hold weekly news conferences. Interviews with Iowa journalists also have been scarce. And the governor is being sued by Belin and other news outlets for failing to provide public records.
Interviews denied, unanswered emails and phone calls and refusals to fill out candidate questionnaires have all become par for the course in Iowa, especially among Republicans.
Why should you care? Because the more difficult our Republican overlords make reporting on their actions, the less you know about how your government is being run, how your tax dollars are being spent, how your rights are being targeted and how issues that affect you are being decided.
A government shrouded in secrecy should be our worst fricking nightmare.
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