Monday, July 16, 2007

The Duped Responds to the Deceiver

Greg Harton, Executive Editor of the Northwest Arkansas Times, didn't take kindly to the deliberate deception by Steve Rust and the Fayetteville Economic Development Council. He was further humiliated (or should have been) by an email that Steve Rust sent bragging about how easily he had misled the reporter for the NWA Times and how little effort the newspaper put into pursuing the story about an alleged corporation considering locating in Fayetteville.

The Fayetteville Economic Development Council was intentionally set up to operate in secret and keep the public in the dark. The membership includes corporate representatives, an appointee of UA Chancellor John White, Mayor Dan Coody, Alderman Robert Rhoades, and Chamber of Commerce officers who don't want citizens to know what they are doing. Editor Harton does not seem to have any problem with this group dodging the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act and deciding the future of our community in their secret meetings, yet he does ask, "Precisely whose vision of Fayetteville is being advanced?"

What Harton objects to is being misled by Steve Rust. Rust decided to give the newspaper false information and just enough of it to shut them up. He called Rust and asked, "Is such purposeful misinformation ethical?" Unphased and unapologetic, Rust stated that he would "do any tactical deception I can do" to keep the press from getting the full story.

Naively, Harton wonders, "But when the FEDC’s public comments are so few and far between, isn’t it reasonable to suggest that those comments should be trustworthy and accurate instead of manipulative and deceptive? Such “tactical deception” will only increase skepticism about every utterance coming from FEDC. Citizens will ask: Is he shooting straight in this story, or has he decided to manipulate and try to divert attention through created information?"

Yes, and they'll ask whether Harton will be duped again so easily and whether the newspaper's reporters can be led to such superficial reporting by a lying huskster dishing out false information.

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