COMMENTARY: Yellow journalism from so-called libertarian outlets aren’t helping the cause of the Libertarian Party

libertarian Libertarian
In this October 1, 2016 file photo, Libertarian Party chairman Nicholas Sarwark speaks to supporters of former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson at a campaign rally at the Phoenix Airport Marriott in Phoenix, Ariz. (Gage Skidmore photo)

A “news piece” by Ryan Lau from supposedly libertarian news outlet 71 Republic came out today bashing the Libertarian Party regarding its finances, but it appears Mr. Lau didn’t do any research at all.

This commentary is not to snap back at the content and headline that screams “hit piece”. This is to feature the backlash received on social media following publication over the unsubstantiated and unverified information the publication chose to publish.

From Libertarian National Committee at-large representative Joe Bishop-Henchman:

At no time was I reached out for comment before publication despite being heavily involved with the LNC’s budget. If this was meant to be journalism rather than words to justify a hit piece headline, it would have included the following:

 

1) Political parties and political organizations often run deficits in election years, offset by surpluses in prior odd years. We are getting donations this year, for instance, for 2020 ballot access. This piece inaccurately implies this is unusual, which talking to any good expert on party or PAC expenditures would have corrected.

 

2) We did have a structural imbalance where ongoing expenses were more than ongoing revenues, dating from the 2016 cycle. This is why the LNC in its 2019 budget wrung out the expense side (which we’re keeping to!) and adopted a realistic revenue plan (which we are now exceeding!). This year our budget is balanced. This all happened back in December, so its exclusion from this article was either sloppy or deliberately misleading.

 

I request a correction on these two items. In the future, I can always be reached for comment at joe.bishop-henchman@lp.org.

The online publication’s executive team has not taken any action regarding Bishop-Henchman’s remarks requesting a correction, while Lau, 71 Republic’s editor-in-chief, has not issued a statement to correct the article and/or issue an apology for the error.

A valid criticism we agree with, from Region 8 Alternate Jeff Lyons:

I mean it starts with something about being anti-war shoe horned in there for some strange reason, and then goes into a 10th grade SAT style essay citing only the bottom line totals of two reports the author clearly couldn’t understand, and stated in literal terms that they couldn’t understand the report. Journalism is supposed to be informative, but if you can’t explain what you’re trying to inform people, you shouldn’t be reporting on it. This is a catty blog post, not a news article.

Another valid criticism from Region 6 Representative John Phillips Jr.:

You don’t think a mention that the budget was balanced for 2019 might have been in order? That we put a lot of effort into that, and made some tough cuts to do so.

 

Joe Bishop-Henchman and Richard Tietjen Longstreth spent a ton of hours finding savings, and several of us stepped up and committed personal donations to make it happen.

 

Just a thought.

Finally, from Region 1 Representative Richard Longstreth:

A balanced budget was passed for FY19. If adjustments need to be made, they will be discussed, at least. I will not be supportive of an LNC that operates outside of fiscal responsibility.

So it does make me wonder if Mr. Lau or 71 Republic bothered to get valid information from the people who actually oversaw the budgeting process for the 2019 fiscal year.

To make an assumption that they’re as fiscally irresponsible as the Federal government is disingenuous because the Libertarian Party isn’t $21 trillion in debt, unlike the Federal government.

I would only advise for what’s best for journalism: stop publishing hit pieces without valid information and exercise the golden rule of journalism: trust, but verify.

There are only two ways to approach this: A) Issue a retraction and apologize to the Libertarian Party or B) update the article and issue an apology for the error.

Otherwise, it’s just another invalidated hit piece published for the sake of yellow journalism.

Jake Leonard is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed and GM/program director of the Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network and Podcast Network. Leonard is also general manager of Heartland Internet Media Networks, an active contributor to four newspapers for Pana News Group and a contributing writer to My Sports Vote.

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