Monday, April 07, 2008

Former Assembly Candidate Anthony Lemons Launching Online Petition Campaign Against Media Bias Towards Candidates Who Claim Municipal Exemption

Former Anchorage Municipal Assembly Candidate Anthony Lemons has launched an online petition campaign against the bias shown by the Anchorage Daily News against candidates who took the municipal exemption during the just-completed municipal election campaign.

While ADN did equally profile all assembly candidates in print, they granted preferential access via audio and video to those candidates who they described as "leading" candidates. My investigation revealed that the candidates left out, including Lemons, had one common denominator - they all had chosen to take the municipal exemption, meaning that they had signed a piece of paper proclaiming their intent not to raise or spend more than $5,000 during the entire campaign. This finding is described in much greater detail HERE.

Lemons actually took it one step further and refused to accept any contributions during his campaign. His campaign temporarily surged when Bill Starr got into a brief pickle over an earthy phone conversation with Dan Coffey, inducing Janet Brand to enter the race after the fact as a write-in candidate. However, to his credit, Lemons refused to make the phone conversation a campaign issue against Starr, which cost him personally at the polls, but ensured the Eagle River seat, by virtue of a Bill Starr victory, would remain in the hands of the constituents and not fall into the hands of the Teamsters.

Here's the justification for the online petition, posted HERE by Anthony Lemons himself:

Stop local news bias towards candidates

Created by Anthony Lemons on 4 April 2008 @ 1:28:03 PM

During my time as a candidate for the Anchorage Assembly, the Anchorage Daily News went out of their way to omit candidates who filed the 'Exempt' form with APOC. I, along with two other candidates were deemed "uncompetitive" by ADN due to my refusal to accept contributions, and the two other candidates expected to raise less than $5,000 for their campaigns.

In their candidate endorsement story, they excluded us from the entire article. For example; My opponents, Bill Starr and Janet Brand were pictured, interviewed and then a story on why they did not support Starr, but why they supported Brand. On the ADN website, they kept their reason for the exclusions no secret. They explained that they acted based upon how much money a candidate raised.

This is disgusting. The media in our town need to remain objective and give equal time to ALL candidates; even if they choose to not raise thousands of dollars or become a puppet to the special interests. The voters have a right to the complete story, and not only what the Anchorage Daily News feels that they should know.

Please sign this petition to show the Anchorage Daily News that their coverage of candidates should include all candidates.

I have just signed this petition, and I strongly recommend all others follow suit. For credibility, you should probably sign it with your real name. If you don't want to use your primary e-mail address, get a "throwaway" e-mail address on either Hotmail or Yahoo. You don't have to live in Alaska to sign the petition.

The Anchorage Daily News is actually a pretty decent newspaper, compared to some of the birdcage liners I see on the Internet, like the Roanoke Times and the Columbus Dispatch, just to name a couple, but we have become accustomed to their normally high standards and we need to send them a message that this is a DEPARTURE from those normal high standards. If KTUU and other media outlets could show EQUAL consideration to all candidates, I see no reason why the Anchorage Daily News can't follow suit. Better yet, instead of doing videos and audios on the candidates, why doesn't ADN simply offer space for each candidate to post a single YouTube, Google, Podblanc or WNTube video of their own? That way, the final decision is left in the hands of the candidate. Each candidate gets the equal opportunity, but the candidate makes the final decision whether or not to capitalize on it.

On a final note, I noticed that on his blog, Anthony Lemons supports the Alaska Clean Elections Initiative as a means of reforming the campaign process. Unfortunately, I have some serious reservations about this initiative, which I've discussed in greater detail HERE. It seems unnecessarily complicated and bureaucratic; you would end up with two separate bureaucracies, APOC and CEC. A more effective campaign reform proposal would be to ban all contributions from unions, corporations, PACs, and any other groups, and permit individual contributions only. This would minimize the power of lobbyists to influence elections without growing government.

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