Fun with Evan

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Captain, Oh, My Captain

“He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction, takin’ every wrong direction on his lonely way back home.” – Kristofferson

I think I need to add a new category to this site. It will be called, “Fun with Evan.” We’ll have weekly updates on his disingenuousness and hypocrisy as he tries to save the journalism business from leadership not nearly as clever as the CEO of Texas Tribune.

Today’s entry into the “Fun with Evan” column is from the Nieman Lab. The lab is a kind of journalism think tank working to come up with new concepts to improve the craft in the Internet era. It’s a good notion but it ought to be pointed out that they get money from the Knight Foundation, which was a big early funder of the Texas Tribune. (I’m disclosing on behalf of Evan Smith who doesn’t know how to do it. He has a special genetic condition called “disclosure impairment” that leads to delusions of fairness and honesty even as you are taking checks from the people you write about. Won’t you make a donation to this site and help us fight “disclosure impairment?”)

Captain, Oh, My Captain
Captain, Oh, My Captain

In a section on the Nieman Lab’s website, Smith urged the “self-appointed integrity watchdogs to take a chill pill.” He had been asked to make a prediction about a few new developments for the coming year in journalism. My favorite quote in the brief segment was where he said,”The hand-wringing about native advertising will give way to hand-clapping at the prospect of someone paying for serious journalism.”

Well, as was demonstrated by the information in our series “The Trouble with the Trib,” the lobby and corporations are paying Evan Smith and the Texas Tribune for journalism, though I would suggest it is rarely serious. The people sending checks to the Texas Tribune for journalism are big donor pals of the Koch Brothers and energy billionaires and lobbyists and public relations firms trying to influence public opinion in Texas.

That actually is serious.

But here’s where Smith pegs the needle on our hypocro-meter, calibrated to measure historic levels of hypocrisy in normal humans but not those attained by genetic mutants like Evan Smith.

“Yes, disclosure and transparency are the entire ballgame, but haven’t they always been?,” he asks on Nieman. “There should be rules and regs and standards messaged from on high, and bad actors should be publicly stoned. Beyond that, the self-appointed integrity cops — you know who you are — need to take a chill pill.”

When he made this comment in mid-December of 2013 he had just concluded a year of taking huge corporate donations without reporting their totals. The contributor names are listed on the Trib’s site but their largesse is not reported with cash figures. Anyone interested will have to check the IRS filings of those donors, or their political contribution data reported to the state ethics commission. That’s disclosure and transparency in Evan Smith’s dictionary, the same one that provides a protection racket for the lobby and corporations working at the Texas capitol.

Smith’s smug, sanctimonious language is ruining the industry he claimed he was trying to save from itself. His arrogance has been in implying there was no real quality journalism by other media until the Tribune shined the light on greatness and showed the way to all the little people.

Please Mr. Smith, consider a pill or two for yourself. If there is an honesty medication, ask your pharmacist if its right for you. And if you tell the truth for more than four hours, consult a lobbyist or a corporate donor for relief.