Sunday, October 24, 2010

News-Leader spends time, money debunking BIlly Long stripper accusations

Pardon me if I am not ready to hand the Springfield News-Leader an investigative reporting award for its handling of today's examination of accusations that Republican Seventh District Congressional candidate Billy Long consorted with strippers and has indulged in racist, sexist, and homophobic behavior.

As I read the article, I began to wonder just how well News-Leader reporters and editors know their community or their jobs. Instead of actually searching for people who could have provided information without having been prepared by the Eckersley or Long campaigns, the News-Leader did little digging on its own and instead relied on witnesses spoon fed to them by the candidates.

Did any News-Leader reporter check with Springfield strippers (dancers, whatever) and see if they had ever danced at the Metropolitan Grill?

There is no indication from the article that the News-Leader checked with the state Division of Alcohol and Tobacco (formerly Liquor Control) to determine if any complaints had ever been filed against the Metropolitan Grill. The types of actions described by Ms. Case could easily have led to a revocation or suspension of the business' liquor license. That type of documentation, if it exists, would have added an extra dimension to this story. If there is no documentation, that should be noted in fairness to the business.

There is also no indication that News-Leader reporters ever talked to any member of the so-called Metro Mafia. If there was anything to these accusations, the best approach is always to gather the evidence and then, if it proves to be substantive, confront the politician with documentation and affidavits. Otherwise, it turns into just another case of politicians making accusations against each other.

Sadly, there was never any real chance that a news organization could get to the bottom of this story. That is not the way journalism is done today. Instead of doing any real reporting, most journalists receive the news release, call to get the other side, post the story and call it a day.

Some of it is due to budget cutbacks; some can be traced to a 24-hour news cycle with constant demands for updates.

And sadly, this lack of digging is not limited to Billy Long and the stripper saga. For instance, a Google News search shows that only blogs have reported on Long's acceptance of campaign contributions from such firms as Halliburton and Exxon Mobil. While there is certainly nothing illegal about the contributions, they certainly stand at odds with Long's "Fed Up" persona that led to his primary victory. Not only has he not been questioned about this, but apparently the traditional media do not consider it to be important enough to address.

For the News-Leader, to have this type of spaghetti-thin journalism coming so soon after the departure of one of the best young political reporters working, Chad Livengood, is particularly disappointing. Today's long (no pun intended) story offers much titillation and stokes the fires of controversy, but leaves the reader with doubts about everyone involved in the story, something a much more thorough and professional investigation would have avoided.

10 comments:

Busplunge said...

I have the same thoughts.

Jim Lee

KathyG said...

Makes me miss Tony Messenger at the N-L, It's become a joke of a newspaper now, for my tastes it leans to far right now.

Cory said...

1. Yes, we did check with a local strip club that allegedly supplied strippers at one event. I didn't have actual names of strippers to seek out, however.

2. We do have several document requests pending. Many people wanted to tell me many things about the Metro Grill, and while that's all very interesting, the issue for this story was: Did someone see Billy Long there when this allegedly happened? Did Billy Long play a role in some way? Or does he just eat at a place where some times some things have gotten out of hand?

3. Yes, I spoke with several regular customers of the Metropolitan Grill, including some who identified themselves as members of the Metro Mafia. I was going to write a side on what the Metro Mafia was, but time and space did not allow for that in Sunday's story.

4. I was working on a campaign finance story and on some issue stories when the Eckersley commercial was released. That made a story about these allegations a higher priority.

5. For the record, I miss Chad and Tony, too. They were both great reporters.
Cory de Vera

Clay said...

Well Ms. DeVera did you seek out Oklahoma City strippers, since the tape you discounted posted on the Fuse Joplin says the strippers were young women, Oklahoma City's Finest. You need to be in the classified section Ms. DeVera, not investigative reporting or political reporting, especially after noting your bits and pieces of commentary within your articles.

Clay said...

Sorry, Oklahoma City's Finest comes from Robert Bush's letter. So why is Cory DeVera looking in Springfield for strippers?

Anonymous said...

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

I was going to write about that but my boss told me it wasn't relevant.

Bungalow Bill said...

We do have several document requests pending. Many people wanted to tell me many things about the Metro Grill, and while that's all very interesting, the issue for this story was: Did someone see Billy Long there when this allegedly happened? Did Billy Long play a role in some way? Or does he just eat at a place where some times some things have gotten out of hand?

Another flaw found in the SNL's investigation. Cory De Vera left this comment on the Turner Report: "We do have several document requests pending. Many people wanted to tell me many things about the Metro Grill, and while that's all very interesting, the issue for this story was: Did someone see Billy Long there when this allegedly happened? Did Billy Long play a role in some way? Or does he just eat at a place where some times some things have gotten out of hand?"

What was Eck's question to Billy Long at the debate? Based on these allegations... would you support a criminal investigation? So we have people coming forward to the News-Leader to talk about what goes on at the Metropolitan Grill, and De Vera and company doesn't feel it's important enough because they don't believe it involves Long while totally ignoring Eck's question to Long in the debates, which Long got overly defensive over. How does De Vera know these stories wouldn't lead to Long? There was no investigation.

Anonymous said...

The prime accuser on direct admitted she didn-t see Long @ the met grill during the time in question. Compromised witness. If you are hoping it was Long better find another source.

Anonymous said...

It's also worth mentioning that the News-Leader profits handsomely from it's advertising relationship with Long through his interests in Billy Long Auctioneer and Murney Realtors.

Anonymous said...

so billy came back from vegas and decided to get strippers from okc? that makes no sense... if he goes to vegas why would he get strippers from oklahoma. you guys are a joke.