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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Secretary of the State set the record straight to The Danbury News-Times

In light of Fred Lucas' inaccurate reporting regarding his "sore loser law" story, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz sets the record straight to the News-Times.

(In what can only be described as arrogant, the News-Times titled Bysiewicz's letter "The sore-loser law is fair to voters")
I am writing to provide some clarification regarding the Nov. 15 article, "State official pushes for 'sore loser' law."

The Lieberman-Lamont race for the U.S. Senate provoked much passion on both sides this year. There were many who called my office angry at Senator Lieberman's plans to run as a petitioning party candidate after losing the Aug. 8 Democratic primary to Ned Lamont, and there were also many delighted that Senator Lieberman's candidacy remained viable even after losing the primary.

The August primary is a recent phenomenon. Prior to 2004, Connecticut's primaries were held in September and the deadline for candidates to submit petitions to run in November was early August.

However, when the legislature switched the primary date to August, it failed to keep the petition deadline consistent with the new primary date, which led to an unusual quirk in our elections calendar, highlighted by Senator Lieberman's candidacy this year.

I have discussed proposing legislation to realign our state's election calendar to make it as it was before 2004. If a candidate wishes to run in November, regardless of the outcome of a primary "" such as Senator Lieberman did this year "" that would still be possible, provided petitions are submitted to my office one month before the August primary.

This legislation would not have kept Senator Lieberman off the November ballot after he lost the August primary. The only difference would be that, under my proposal, he would have had to let the voters know before the primary that he did not intend to accept the results of the primary in the event he lost.

This bill is consistent with my long-time advocacy of encouraging ballot access and civic participation.

In order to ensure transparency of government, voters should have as much information about a candidate as possible when they are asked to make a choice.
Although Bysiewicz clarified her position, she didn't have to do this as it was clearly Fred Lucas who got the story wrong. As I stated in GREAT DETAIL on the 15th, Bysiewicz NEVER proposed a sore-loser law but simply wanted to fix a loophole that was created when the primary date was pushed back from September to August. She stated this numerous times even going as far as calling a press conference and stating that her proposal was not a sore loser law.

What is absent from this letter is a correction from Fred Lucas and/or the News-Times stating that they got this story wrong. Remember, this story made the front page of the News-Times with a misleading headline OVER A WEEK AGO and although several reporters at the News-Times read this and other blogs that reported on this error, they haven't made an attempt to admit to their error to this date.

Lets go back in time and take a look at Lucas article. The artcle starts off with a lie.
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, one week after being re-elected to a third term, said Tuesday she still planned to push for a "sore loser" law that she talked about during the campaign.
This is a lie. Bysiewicz NEVER, EVER, proposed this during the campaign...what she did talk about is what Lucas quoted her as saying to her in the VERY NEXT PARAGRAPH.
"I am putting together a legislative package that includes moving the calendar for petitioning candidates to match that of a candidate petitioning for a primary," Bysiewicz said before speaking at Western Connecticut State University on Tuesday.
This is consistant with what Bysiewicz said later that SAME day at a news conference.

Although Lucas got the quote correct, he took it upon himself to call Bysiewicz's proposal a sore loser law and made his entire story based around this false claim.
The proposal is meeting skepticism among state lawmakers, who fear it could be undemocratic. The Connecticut General Assembly convenes in January.

After Lieberman lost the Democratic primary to Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont in August, he launched an independent candidacy and was reelected to a fourth Senate term last week.

If the law Bysiewicz is proposing had been in effect this year, it would have stopped Lieberman from running as an independent after he lost the Democratic primary to Lamont.
IF you watch the vide clip, you'll CLEARLY see that what Lucas is stating is outright wrong and as a political reporter, he should have known better.

This is not the first time the News-Times dropped the ball on a front page story as they ran a frontpage story based on a obvious bogus claim regarding FAKE neo-nazi organization several months ago. The reason why fell for the hoax was simple...they didn't fact check their information.

Lets go back in time and see what the Publisher of the News-Times said in his appology to readers (pay attention to the part in bold):
We were duped. There evidently is no "Grey Wolves" white supremacist group planning to disrupt a Christian organization's rally in Danbury this Tuesday.

A self-described idiot from Fairfield County admitted Friday the whole story was a hoax. The man concocted the neo-Nazi story because he's a strong supporter of the separation of church and state, a philosophy the rally organizers oppose.


The fake Nazi didn't pry money from unsuspecting readers, but he did cause local law enforcement to waste time and energy trying to avoid a confrontation. He also caused anxiety for the organization that planned the rally and scrambled to distance itself from the Grey Wolves.

Regrettably, The News-Times played a part by publishing the man's claims. The story started innocently enough, with details of the rally appearing on our Web site, NewsTimesLive.com, Wednesday afternoon.

The news landscape has changed and, like many media outlets, The News-Times sometimes posts information on its Web site before it appears in print. The man from Fairfield County read the story online and called the newspaper, claiming to represent the neo-Nazi group.

He answered questions and followed with an e-mail; his comments appeared in the print story published Thursday. After the city of Danbury acted quickly by pulling the organizer's rally permit, the hoaxer confessed and apologized.

The idea of a white supremacist group in the region was plausible enough. The Connecticut White Wolves, a white nationalist skinhead organization, has grown in recent years.

In hindsight, we should have checked the man's claims more thoroughly.

That's easy to say now. There will be those who chalk this up as further proof of some grand conspiracy.

In reality, it's a reminder of the need for skepticism because, for some people, lying comes far too easily.
At the time I gave the Publisher props for coming clean but now I see that I was wrong because in reading this again, he's putting more blame on an idiot who called in a fake claim than the reporters and editors who failed to hear the numerous from this the bogus tip (you can read all about that here).

It's fairly obvious that the same editors who brought you the frontpage neonaxi hoax didn't learn their lesson when it comes to doublechecking information from their reporters.

To be clear:

1. A sore loser law is about keeping a candidate off the ballot if he or she loses a priamry.

To be clear:

SoS Bysiewicz proposal had NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS. She only proposed fixing a loophole which was created when the primary date when moved back from September to August.

To be clear:

Fred Lucas accurately reported on Bysiewicz's proposal and put his spin on the story to make it seem like Bysiewicz was proposing a sore loser law. The News-Times DID NOT fact check his story before going to print and ran a misleading headline claiming that Bysiewicz was proposing a sore loser law.

It's now been two weeks and the News-Times is STILL silent on the matter. Not only did the News-Times mislead the public, but they mislead the politicians that they called from a comment on this story. Instead of reporting on local government issues which goes under the radar, they spoonfeed the public yet another misleading story that received a great deal of feedback from readers.

This is wrong.


Reporter Fred Lucas: State house, politics (203) 731-3358 flucas@newstimes.com

News & Editorial (203) 744-5100 editor@newstimes.com

Jacqueline Smith Managing Editor/News (203) 731-3369 jsmith@newstimes.com

Eric Conrad Editor (203) 731-3361 econrad@newstimes.com