evan-smith-texas-tribune-activists-foulCan’t catch a break

April 5, 2012 | Blog

Poor Evan Smith. His second employee in under a year has gotten busted lying to try to damage Empower Texans. However, this one is worse because it was done by a prima donna with too much ego to ever let his boss do the right thing for the publication.

In July of last year, in the heat of the hoped-for arrival of an opportunity to discredit Empower Texans,  a greenhorn Tribune reporter named Reeve Hamilton claimed Daniel Greer owned a domain name he did not own. It was a good guess, since Greer admits to being a serial domain name buyer, and since Hamilton’s guess did fit Greer’s profile of stockpiling against enemies.

A good guess, but alas, a guess it was, and wrong. Upstanding journalists, which the Texas Tribune claim to be shining examples of, aren’t supposed to publish guesses as fact.

A brave unnamed editor eventually offered a retraction. We’ll venture a guess – only we’ll admit it’s a guess up front – that Smith was the adult in the room who had sense enough to cut the Trib’s losses, moving the political conversation on.

Fast forward to two days ago when the Tribune was once again in a froth over a chance to deeply wound Empower Texans. Only this time the material seemed good enough to really hurt, so Ramsey, a senior member of the Tribune, took the hit on himself.

By all appearances they allowed themselves to be lobbied by two crony moderate legislators and a consultant who dislike Empower Texans as much as the rest of the crowd who play Texans for fools professionally.

The two legislators claimed to have filed an ethics complaint (something Empower Texans still hasn’t heard about from the Texas Ethics Commission) alleging Michael Sullivan should have registered as a lobbyist and did not.

Should Michael Sullivan have registered as a lobbyist? This is a question Empower Texans, with the help of counsel, long ago mastered. Per the law, and several times over, Sullivan is not a lobbyist. So sorry, guys.

In the promise of the moment, however, Ramsey threw in some out-and-out lies to garnish the dish.

First, he said Empower Texans did robo calls into Truitt’s district during the 2010 primary. Secondly, he said Empower Texans supplied signs for Truitt’s 2010 primary.

One of the staples of Empower Texans’s communication with voters is robo calls into the districts of legislators acting out of campaign character to the detriment of constituents. However, the robo calls in question, the ones into Truitt's district, had been over for some time when the primary finally started.

In fact, if Ramsey had referenced the article he wrote about these robo calls he’d have known as much. Back then he said:

The first call into her district came in May, while the Legislature was still in session. It attacked Truitt's support of legislation that would allow voters to approve local increases in gasoline taxes to pay for local roads. Four other messages went into her district in the late summer and fall.

As for Ramsey's lie about the signs, the Trib gang is trying hard to focus eyes elsewhere, since they have no evidence whatsoever to back up this naked-rumor-published-as-fact. It was either made up whole cloth by Ramsey or slander from an enemy of Sullivan’s that Ramsey turned around and ran, rather incurious of it’s truth content.

The surprising part is that Ramsey is digging in instead of moving to stop the bleeding and whispers. Either out of dutiful resignation or a fall from his semblance of professionalism, Smith is joining in on Twitter, making excuses for Ramsey instead of playing the man.

We'll keep our drumbeat steady: Texans, the Texas Tribune are not neutral, and are not journalists. They are liberal activists who gain trust during political off seasons, spend trust in political seasons (the primary, the general,  the lege), then repeat.

--Ramsey's story showing he knew the robo calls weren't during the primary.

Weston Hicks

Weston Hicks researches and writes about associations in the Texas political realm, media choices, and political strategy. He has a B.A. in History from the University of Texas at El Paso and a J.D. from University of Texas School of Law. He enjoys spending time with wife and five children, reading, and playing sports outide. You can reach him at [email protected]