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Barry Hess vs. Arizona Republic Newspaper (in the end 'Freedom Always Wins')

Written by Subject: Media: Print
NOTICE: This is a recent exchange (9-15-06) between Arizona Libertarian candidate, Barry Hess, and Ken Western, editor for the state's paper of record, The Arizona Republic. It was in response to an article by Matthew Benson published on 9-14-06 on the front page of the newspaper featuring only the publicly-financed campaigns of incumbent Democrat, Janet Napolitano and Republican nominee, Len Munsil. Mr. Hess' campaign was only given slight mention on page 18-A on the same day. In keeping with his thinly-veiled threat to "marginalize" Mr. Hess, the editorial page again excluded him from a write-up by Mr. Rob Robb, in the op-ed section on Sunday, 9-17-06. From all appearances, it appears that the Arizona Republic may be in violation of campaign finance election laws and attempting to influence a public election should such 'coverage' be deemed advertising for the two public tax dollar financed campaigns it covered. Mr. Hess is the only candidate who refused to participate in public financing.

At an A.E.A. event in Mesa, AZ, on Saturday, September 16th, 2006, Mr. Hess relayed his concerns directly to the Governor who agreed it was not right, and that there are three equal candidates in this race. Ms. Napolitano offered to communicate her sentiments to the Arizona Republic, very much to her credit. Ms. Napolitano's campaign manager informed Mr. Hess that Ms. Napolitano has already gone on record as refusing to participate in any candidate debate that did not include Mr. Hess.

subject: More equal coverage? Hu huh...right.

Hey Ken;

Are you really happy with this?

"For now, Napolitano is a popular incumbent who many political observers expect to coast to re-election, but she could be toppled if Munsil's message takes hold or she trips up. Add to the candidate mix Barry Hess, a Libertarian who could play spoiler if nothing else."

>From today's paper...front page, two candidates featured who say essentially the same thing? Did your reporter consider that Len or Janet might be 'my' spoiler? Or do they presume to "know" what the public should or shouldn't know about our plans/platforms?

Comon Ken, at some point claiming the Republic is a "newspaper" (reflective of public opinion and a complete exhibition of ALL the candidates, as opposed to being just another form of political advertising/propaganda) becomes a deceptive joke. Is there no sense of true journalism left there?

Though she didn't share my beliefs, I have to say Kevin at least tried to be "fair and balanced", and I respect that. Didn't you tell me that you held Libertarian beliefs?

Oddly enough, I'd bet I got more comments on the slight than the look-alikes got supporters. Thanks for that.

As always, I remain at your service--



Barry - the first thing I have to do is disabuse you of the notion that I or anybody else on the editorial board has anything to do with news coverage. Not the case. Feel free to chastise us for what appears on the editorial and opinions pages, however. I would imagine spoiler is in reference to where you currently stand in the polls? If you haven't met him, you might want to set up a time to meet with the reporter covering the governor's race just to let him get to know you.



Hey Ken;

Thanks for the response. I do sincerely apologize if my cynicism was


As you know, we're (Libertarians) fairly used to being belittled and/or

demeaned by AZ Republic reporters...Scutari and Sherwood come

immediately to mind. Is the 'Chip' gone, or was I mis-informed?

In any event they (along with others from the media) are already on our

'un-trustworthy' list for our new "Media Bias" page we're putting up on

our website(s), as will this reporter. Who was it anyway, is there a

picture of them available? I was just told about it by all the

e-mailers and phone callers and didn't bother to read it. We will also

be putting up entire forums and debates on video to be juxtaposed with

article written so the public can decide for themselves if the

article(s) are accurate.

If those who contacted me are any indication, I am certain that your

subscriber base is diminishing, as is the AZ Republic's reputation.

I'm willing to give him/her one interview and seeing what comes of it.

The last guy I spoke to about the Libertarian registration drive(s) did

a fair piece, so he's on our 'good guys' list.

Please relay to the reporter my thoughts and invite him to call, (602)

843-3827. I realize that many reporters are just plain lazy and my

complaint may be due to incompetence rather than some insidious agenda

and I'm willing to give him/her a chance to get better. This is shaping

up to be a good clean race with lots of surprises planned, and unless

he/she fixes their reporting as far as I'm concerned they'll have to get

used news from the reporters who got it from us--or be the only one who

didn't get the story at all.

My patience with this kind of serious deception on the public has long

since run out and if my disappointments were wrongly directed toward

you, I am sorry. I do have to note that you've been good to me as far

as op-eds go.

Hey, what ever happened to the weekly candidate questions?

Thanks, Ken.

As always, I remain at your service--


____ wrote:

Barry - you cover a lot of ground there. It's been my experience that you

won't be doing yourself any favors holding a reporter up to ridicule. This

is a new reporter on the race and I think he has done a very good job. If

you want to marginalize yourself and the party, you're going to be well on

the way with that approach. If you have problems with the coverage, that's

for you to take up with the reporter or his editor.

Chip left Wed. to work in pr in town with David Liebowitz at Moses Anshell.

We'll start the questionnaires when we get a little closer to the election.

I'm looking forward to it!



Hey Ken;

I wanted to answer more quickly but I was besieged by people coming over, all in response to the lack of equal coverage. Three of them came in waving the paper in outrage and one of them, Gary Tupper just finished filming his segment on all this, with several more to come.

As vice-chair of the Arizona Libertarian Party, I am compelled to follow through...unless the reason goes away.

I sense a change in tone so I just want to make clear my intentions. I'm not looking for a fight, or to argue or in any way to create unnecessary tensions or to 'draw lines' of enmity, but I am totally committed to doing all that I can to insure the public gets a fair picture of their political choices. That we have prepared to forward this campaign and what it could mean for the future of Arizona in ways that appear to be comparable to the Republic's reach shouldn't signify anything more than we are demanding we (Libertarians) be covered in the same exact way and with the same exact tone as the Republican/Democrat candidates. We have earned it.

You stated earlier that the reporter referred to me as a 'spoiler' because of my "standing in the polls". We've talked about this before, Ken, what polls? If we're not

even a choice in the Republic polls.... Who are we kidding? Our own polls have shown consistently that Janet has never gotten above 38%, but yours seem to be surprisingly different. All I asked before and all I ask now is that the Republic simply treat us fairly and equally--that's it. I'm not asking for any kind of special or favored treatment---just that my/our political solutions are put before the public so they can decide what they want to do.

The simple fact that my per vote costs have been established at a few pennies, as opposed to $4..-$6.00 for the R/D Party speaks volumes. Of course the significance of this is also reflected in the fact that with only minimum funding I was able to reach and persuade more than twice the number of registered Libertarians in the state. What would happen if your readers actually got to see the whole field as to their choices? Aren't you, or Gannett even slightly interested to find out? Who knows, with my very real and workable solutions to the ills that Arizonans face, we might just make a little history.

When we talked about the lack of inclusion in the Republic's polls, you chalked it up to the "new" guy. Now here we are again......

For you to state that by putting only two of the three legitimate contenders on the front page in large color photos and relegating me to A-18 with a tiny B&W and stock , bland responses, that Mr. Benson "has done a very good job" seems a bit of an overstatement. He didn't even bother to call on me. I believe my/our political message can play an important part in Arizona's future because it really does put the People first, not the bureaucracy or the status quo.

If my/our intentions to make available to the public the opportunity to 'report on the reporters' is a step toward marginalizing myself, I'd have to find a worthy distinction between already being marginalized, as in the present case, and that subtle alternative, for me to even begin to shy from doing the right thing. I do not hold even the slightest hope or expectation that the Republic will 'endorse' my candidacy, but I'm willing to give it a chance, and every good reason to--I'll play, even though I am supremely confident that it's endorsement is a foregone conclusion. So, quelle la difference?

Believe it or not, I'm the one who was urging everyone else involved with this project to not go ahead, but Mr. Benson's article has made a stronger case. I have argued strenuously against doing it because it's a distraction from the campaigns and probably will work in Janet's favor, and I believe that is very bad for Arizona. The public seeing candidates or individual reporters getting smeared just isn't something I want any part of, and neither are the claims of violations of McCain-Feingold. My interest is in fair and equal exposure in the political arena, and it goes no further than that.

I'm not one to hold grudges or anger toward anyone, I'm sure you know that. So in the spirit of compromise, I can say only that if the Republic were to put me on the front page, above the fold, in the same manner, tone and with the respect that the R/D candidates were, while putting them in exactly the same context as I was (A-18, B&W, stock response quotes), I would happily call it even and forget the whole thing and fend off going ahead with our plans. That would be fair wouldn't it?

As I said, I will be nice, polite and fully co-operative with Mr. Benson, but he's going to have to call me to set up a time to get together. I sincerely hope we can fix this gross injustice and all get on with bringing the People of Arizona a good, clean campaign season that dissects the issues and the solutions we each propose rather than each other.

You are welcome to share this thread with the news editor and see what he/she thinks is the right thing to do.

As always, I remain at your service--


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