February 8, 2013

BLOG: Journalists fall for Fallin's agenda

James Bright, Managing Editor,
The Express-Star

OKLAHOMA CITY — My boss and I went to the capital yesterday for the annual Oklahoma Press Association Legislative Summit and I was a little disappointed with what I saw.

The building looked fine - even though the governor will tell you quite the contrary - and I was able to visit our local legislatures on their turf, which was a nice change.

The problem was the other press members and their seemingly gutless efforts to prod Governor Mary Fallin for answers to innocuous questions during an end-of-the-day press conference.

The governor showed up, essentially reiterated her "State of the State" speech and then went on about the importance of fixing up the state legislature's building.

After her diatribe, the press was given roughly 15 minutes to ask questions of Fallin and  then we were to be treated to a tour of  portions of the capital building in the most disrepair.

Ok, I don't blame the governor for this. She had an agenda and used the resources available to her - namely dozens of members of Oklahoma's press core - as an attempt to get that information out.

My problem is in her speech she brought up numerous issues including education, healthcare and infrastructure and nobody, aside from myself, seemed to care.

I'm not trying to toot my horn here, but out of five questions asked, I asked two, which both had to do with vocational colleges and their future in our education industry as it relates to energy and higher paying jobs.

The other three had something to do with the need to repair the capital.

I'm not saying the capital doesn't need repair. It may be in terrible shape, but these are journalists that seemed to be awed by Fallin. This sort of thing can't happen. She holds an office of prestige and yes, we should all respect the person occupying that office, but that doesn't mean we can't maintain our journalistic integrity. She is an elected official and journalists need to hold her accountable for her claims, not fall for slight of hand tactics that put reporters in her comfort zone. I feel that is what happened yesterday.