One of the politicians that always sends his press releases to me is Bob Huff. I receive the same stuff from him that Patch and the News Net Rooster get. And I can tell you, there isn't much that Ed Roski Jr.'s messenger boy puts out that those two sites don't print like it is the real news. However, it is not. Rather Bob supplies them with press releases that those lazy editors can slap up on their sites to make it look like they have an important stories about Bob to offer. Stuff that in reality is little more than political propaganda.
Of course, State Senator Huff is hardly the only major sway governmental figure to exploit the easy access offered by less discriminating news sites. Here is an example. Last Friday the Sierra Madre Patch posted a puff piece entitled "Sheriff's Department Destroys 8,000 Confiscated Guns." This was taken from a press release put out by Sheriff Lee "Chew" Baca's office designed to make the fellow look like he is doing some superior work in the never ending fight against crime. The message here being Lee Baca is taking the guns off the streets.
Here is what the Patch posted:
Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca announced Thursday the destruction of more than 8,000 weapons confiscated from criminals in Los Angeles County.
Annually, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works transport the weapons to Gerdau Steel Mill, a Rancho Cucamonga company that donates its furnace, equipment and personnel to convert the guns into steel rebar, according to a Los Angeles Sheriff's Department press release.
Dubbed "Project Isaiah," the annual gun destruction gets its name from the Biblical passage in the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 2:4) that calls for swords to be beaten into plowshares as a way of bringing peace.
"These weapons that you see here will never again be used to commit a crime or used to threaten or intimidate an innocent victim," Baca said in a prepared statement.
Now don't get me wrong, this is all fine work on Baca's part. And protecting innocent victims is a worthy thing. Heck, even protecting guilty victims is OK. But honestly, what is the big deal here? Cops have been taking firearms away from crooks and other assorted bad guys ever since guns were invented. Why is Baca making such a big occasion out of something that in normal parlance is called "doing his job?"
The answer is Lee Baca has a pressing need to get some positive news about himself out there. The reason being that he is now embroiled in a rather serious scandal. And obviously Baca sees a benefit in presenting a sunny picture of himself to those innocent souls who read things like The Patch, and think they are getting the entire story. Which, of course, they are not.
This from the Associated Press (click here):
LA Sheriff faces mounting legal challenges: Jail commanders condoning the beating of inmates. Evidence withheld from inmates accused of attacking guards. A photo of a woman wearing an official-looking badge while brandishing handcuffs at a nightclub.
Allegations and litigation continue to dog Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who has acknowledged being out of touch about problems in his jails and failing to reform his massive department that oversees the largest county jail system in the nation.
Bad news in the past week has come from his own brass, his chief critics and a photo that surfaced in an unrelated federal investigation - all serving to sully the reputation of the popular four-term sheriff, who enjoys the limelight and is flown around the world at the invitation of others to talk about policing tactics.
The host of problems facing Baca's department is similar to what the Los Angeles Police Department had to cope with in the wake of the Rodney King beating and the Rampart corruption scandal, (Peter) Eliasberg (of the ACLU) said. Under the leadership of former LAPD Chief William Bratton and a decade-long federal consent decree, LAPD emerged as a better policing agency.
So there you go. As always, you often need to consider more than one source for your information. Choose your news sources wisely, and even then use a discriminating eye. Often what you are seeing is not the entire picture. And who knows, you might be reading nothing more than a press release.