09.12.10 MPW Serves as Riemer Mouthpiece

Adam Pagnucco denies the existence of any bias in his blog, Maryland Politics Watch. He cites as a difference between himself and yours truly that he doesn’t make endorsements.  I don’t know Pagnucco personally and have no reason to take his word at face value or reject it.  But I can report on the facts.

Since July 1, MPW has posted 17 times substantially or entirely about Hans Riemer (at-large candidate for county council).  During that time, all but two posts (not counting those about endorsements) used the Riemer campaign’s own headlines (e.g., “Hans Riemer: Working Together To Support High Quality Schools,” on September 10) while the majority of MPW posts about other campaigns report in a more neutral fashion (e.g., “Ariana Kelly’s Education Mailer” earlier today).

Even more striking is the nine times this summer MPW has reported on individuals’ endorsements of Riemer.  For all other candidates, the total posts on individuals’ endorsements is 18.  The most for any single candidate (Nancy King) is three.

When I pointed this out to Pagnucco earlier today by commenting on the most recent pro-Riemer post, his response was that the Riemer campaign is more prolific in sending MPW their good news than anyone else and that he’s merely passing along what he is sent. (I’ll leave out the personal insults he tossed my way, but won’t mind if you choose to read them.)

This implies that MPW uncritically passes along all the materials campaigns send their way; however, two other remarks by Pagnucco state the opposite.  First, on August 21, when political activist Kevin Gillogly challenged Pagnucco on why MPW was refusing to run Progressive Neighbors’ endorsements, Pagnucco responded: “If I posted every statement from every single group, this blog would be nothing but press releases.”  Second, in his September 10 Free Advice for Politicians, Pagnucco complains about the sheer number of press releases campaigns put out.

There is nothing wrong with Adam Pagnucco’s endorsing Hans Riemer or anyone else.  There is indeed something wrong when he claims utter objectivity that is clearly contraindicated by his own content.

In my comments on the the MPW website today, I credited Pagnucco for teaching me the importance of full disclosure when it comes to ties to and biases about candidates. I was wrong to omit these details from my posts before August — which is when Pagnucco shot down the credibility of my entire post about the Progressive Neighbors forum because I hadn’t revealed my ties to Marc Elrich.  I learned from that experience and have changed my practices.

I hope Pagnucco does the same.

Full disclosure: I have explicitly called on voters not to select Hans Riemer for county council.

©2010 Keith Berner

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