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Tag Archive: Internet

Reporting a Possibility of Impropriety as Actual

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Last Friday, I emailed Peter Byrne to inform him of the critique I'd posted of his article which states that Sen. Dianne Feinstein committed serious ethical improprieties. Byrne wrote that Feinstein, in her capacity as chair or ranking member of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, benefited two businesses in which her husband, Richard C. Blum, had a financial interest. In the critique, I argued that the evidence Byrne cites, when closely examined, either doesn't support or in fact contradicts the allegations he makes. He disagreed with my analysis (I am simultaneously posting an updated version of the analysis to incorporate additional information he provided), and I emailed back to say I still thought the information he provided was not sufficient to support the charges leveled in his article. He responded:

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Fact checking allegations of corruption

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(Note: After posting this piece, I had an email exchange with Peter Byrne. I am adding some of the information he provided, in his words, and responding as well. New material can be found by searching for the words "new material". I also moved the disclosure statement to the top of the post. In many ways this post is now moot, as Byrne clarified what he meant in his article--see here.) One of the few downsides of the Internet age is that inaccurate information and completely unsubstantiated allegations can be dressed up as an "investigative" expose and then be recycled over and over, regardless of how wildly unfounded they are. Such is the case with this piece that ran in some small California weeklies that, on the basis of what appears to be no evidence at all, alleges serious ethical improprieties by Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The story has been recycled by David Keene, who writes a column for the Hill, and subsequently picked up by various blogs. I should note right away (this disclosure was originally at the bottom of this lengthy piece) that I got interested in this story because it prominently mentions the Sunlight Foundation's co-founder, Michael Klein. Mike can speak for himself (as he already did in response to the article). I limited my review to the central allegation of the article, and asked whether I as an editor would publish it on the basis of the evidence presented. I wouldn't.

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