The LDS Church owned Deseret News’ hypocrisy came shining through in a recent editorial that criticized Brandon Beckham for use of the term “traitor’ even though a full apology had been issued seven hours prior to the time the editorial was posted to the Deseret News’ website.
The News actually went out of its way to publicize and sensationalize the “traitor” comment. When the story reporting the comment was first published on the New’s and KSL-TV’s websites at 6 p.m. on July 20, 2011, it was headlined: Immigration becomes hot topic during special legislative session. However, by 11:47 pm the same day, the headline on the Deseret News site had been changed to: Illegal immigration bill repeal backer calls lawmakers who drafted it ‘traitors’ to Utah.
In the editorial, the Deseret News wrote: “Beckham’s remark also highlights the larger issue of civility in public debates. We are concerned by the rise of incivility in America….We know Utahns are capable of rising above the temptation to demonize their opponents. Let us respect one another in an honest debate that is spirited without being mean-spirited.”
This is just the most recent of the series of editorials published by the Deseret News calling for honesty and civility. In 2010, a Deseret News editorial proclaimed: “Indeed, a key component of our mission is to promote integrity, civility, morality, and respect for all people.” In 2007, the News editorialist wrote: “Civil discourse, like most things in society, starts one person at a time. It begins with each of us.” In 2004, the News stated: “As we did last year, we intend to be a catalyst in restoring civility.”
Unfortunately, the Deseret News has seldom practiced what it preaches.
In this case, rather than participating in an honest debate, the Deseret News’ editorial deliberately misstated the facts. After listing groups that supported HB116 (“A wide variety of business, community and religious groups, including this newspaper as well as its owner, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a majority of Utahns”), the news wrote: “That’s a lot of traitors.”
Indeed it is a lot of traitors — if it were true. But that’s not what Beckham said. According to the Deseret News’ own story and its own headline, Beckham’s comment was limited to the drafters of the bill: “Those who drafted this bill are traitors to Utah and they will be held accountable by voters in 2012” and “ Illegal immigration bill repeal backer calls lawmakers who drafted it ‘traitors’ to Utah.”
It would be one thing if this were just an isolated incident of the News falling off the integrity and civility wagon. But it isn’t.
In 2007, the News cast civility aside when, in an editorial, it equated Representative Glenn Donnelson with George Wallace and called Donnelson a “bill pusher” with a “Fantasyland alternative.” It also labeled the majority of Utahns who oppose in-state tuition for illegal aliens as racists, told Donnelson to “get some new ideas or get out of the way” and accused him of using “the issue as a sop to throw to the Minuteman crowd so they won’t muddy the Capitol steps with protests.”
It has labeled those it disagrees with as “ultra-conservative” and “ultra-right wing extremists.”
In an editorial titled “Gun-toters, leave the building,” the News resorted to calling firearms “machines for killing” and gun rights supporters “loose cannons with half-cocked ideas.” It also wrote: “But if they [gun owners] don’t want Utahns to see them as “nuts,” they should stop making public statements that belong in Planter’s cans.”
The News has referred to legislators as“dim bulbs” and as “political dandies strutting and preening and posing and doing little.” It has labeled citizens that want the border enforced as the “annoyed in America” and portrayed citizens who support a border fence as “pumping their fists.” It has called the arguments of those who support abolishing in-state tuition for illegal aliens as the “rhetoric of the self-righteous” while labeling the majority of Utah citizens who oppose in-state tuition for illegal aliens as “zealots.”
Most recently, in articles written by Paul Mero and in news reports that quote him, the Deseret News has stood by with nary a peep as Mr. Mero referred to the opponents of illegal immigration as” nativists, right wing political extremists, the Deportation Caucus, racists, delusional, an angry mob, narrow minded, disgruntled patriots who are carrying out a modern witch hunt and accused them of creating a “police state.”
The Deseret News is right when it says that Utahns are capable of rising above the temptation to demonize their opponents. Mr. Beckham has shown that by his heartfelt, public and private apologies to all concerned. Isn’t it time for the Deseret News, which never tires of proclaiming that it is owned by the LDS Church, to do the same?