Lack of Integrity in Editorial Discretion Influenced Hayden Mayoral Race

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It was a brutal display of mudslinging leading into election day on Tuesday, November 7, 2023, particularly regarding the Hayden Mayoral race. Luke Sommer, the candidate with a popular, and convincing, message on the hot button issue of density growth, had momentum going into the final stretch of a long campaign season.

That is, until a local media source chose to publish a gutter-style political hit piece by known antagonists hell-bent on destroying any race that failed to line up with progressive growth policies.

The editor of the publication allowed the authors to base their extremely illogical arguments against Sommer using the pleadings of a convicted criminal who presented unfounded, unproven statements to a judge during sentencing, after being convicted. Filings with the court during sentencing are regularly used by unrepentant criminals to tug on liberal heartstrings, hoping for a lighter prison term. The pleadings carried no weight regarding the truth, were never investigated, and did not follow any due process. It was the last desperate attempt by a man, and the manipulations of his mother, to get out of jail without paying the price for his crimes. The criminal was sentenced to 44 years for convictions on charges related to bank robbery, and attempted murder.

The guest opinion piece was published on October 28, 2023, on the front page of the Local Section, with a large banner title that made it appear to be a news article, instead of an opinion piece. The timing of the publication is critical, as the editor’s policy refuses to allow any political opinion pieces to go to print after October 28. It was an underhanded move by the editor to publish the mudslinging opinion piece, and then hide behind a policy that effectively cut off any ability for Sommer’s campaign to respond.

Had Sommer’s campaign been given the opportunity to address the trashy opinion piece, the publication’s readership would have known that the convicted criminal did, in fact, have relevant, mitigating medical diagnoses that give context to both his criminal acts, and his sentence pleadings. Had the publication conducted even rudimentary investigations, they would have informed their readership that the convicted criminal suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from his time spent in Iraq, and Afghanistan, while serving as a U.S. Army Special Forces Ranger. They would have shared how PTSD affects the neuropathways of the human brain, and they would have disclosed that the man also was diagnosed as bipolar, another serious condition that affects the neuropathways. The publication deliberately chose to print a political hit piece, full of half-truth deceptions, instead of presenting relevant, and accurate, information to the community.

This lack of editorial judgment is wholly detrimental to the craft of journalism, and it directly interfered with a local election. This behavior would be totally appropriate if the editor was on the campaign team of Sommer’s opponent, and perhaps there is some truth to this train of thought — it certainly smacks of extreme bias favoring one candidate. For the same publication to take marketing dollars from Sommer’s campaign, while denying him the ability to refute the allegations printed against him in its own publication, is a bar set so low even an ant couldn’t squeeze under.

For those who value integrity in their news, and opinion articles, you will be well-served to ditch other media sources, and start enjoying writings by Kootenai Journal contributors. We promise to maintain the highest values in journalism, as outlined on the Our Company page of the Kootenai Journal website, and we will provide local news you can trust to hold both sides of the political aisle to the same standards. The community deserves better than what they have been subjected to by other local media sources.