I agree with Ben completely - it's an opposition dump all right. But it's certainly not good journalism - no, not even good amateur journalism. This is something that has been bugging me about bloggers, including some of the best in Virginia, for a very long time. For all that we criticize the mainstream media for its biases, there are some fundamental rules of real journalism that we toss aside as casually as dirty socks. But with the old media crumbling, we have to get better at truly being fair, accurate, and balanced. That's even true of advocacy journalism. It's one thing to advocate passionately for your candidate and even to do real research and write negatively about an opponent. It's another thing to simply be the tool of a campaign, running with anything they feed you.
Ben's piece was not at all well researched because he never got a statement from his subject. Even if that subject lies or refuses to respond, a real reporter has an absolute obligation to get the subject's side of the story. Sure, you can counter his claims with others' statements disproving it if those other facts don't exist. If the subject refuses to comment, you can say so in your article. In fact, reporters regularly go out of their way to make sure readers know that they have contacted the subject, asked the right questions, and gotten a refusal to answer.
Here, Mark Keam seems very accessible and very willing to answer. I am going to reprint in its entirety Keam's response:
Hey Ben, I don’t recall that we’ve ever met personally, but I’m glad to have made your acquaintance on this blog. I look forward to meeting you sometime.In the interests of full disclosure, I support Mark Keam. But even if his campaign tried to do an "oppo research dump" on me, I would go to whomever was the subject of it and get their response to the accusation. Otherwise, I wouldn't run it.
It seems that you’ve been writing about me and my campaign for the House of Delegates lately. If you have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to call me directly at 703-999-2782 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to tell you whatever you want to know about my various jobs or about my involvement with any Democratic campaign in Virginia or elsewhere.
As for this latest round of accusations about my work at Verizon, let me respond so there won’t be any further confusion or comments from various folks who might not be aware of all the facts.
First of all, I don’t know who provided you these charges, but I find it curious that no one seems to be taking credit for these accusations leveled against me. Maybe whoever gave you this set of talking points realizes their “facts” are based on nothing but guilt by association.
Let me give you the real facts as only I can know them.
I’m a former FCC attorney who has specialized in telecommunications law. After working in the government for over a decade, I joined the Government Relations office at Verizon for about two years. My job was to work with Senate Democrats. Among other Democratic initiatives, I worked on expanding broadband access to underserved and rural areas, as well as to keep consumers from paying taxes for accessing the Internet.
I never lobbied on this wiretapping issue. In fact, I never had security clearance to discuss such national intelligence issues. My name is listed as a lobbyist on a wide range of bills that were active in Congress while I was at Verizon because my company listed the entire lobbying team for a Congressional office on lobbying disclosure reports.
I enjoyed working at Verizon and learned a lot. It was valuable opportunity to see how Congress works from the outside, instead of the perspectives I had when I was Senator Dick Durbin’s chief counsel for six years. In fact, when I was on Capitol Hill, I spent everyday fighting extreme Bush administration policies. So I find it somewhat incredible that anyone would suggest that I had anything to do with the Bush administration other than trying to stop their agenda.
Anyway, I hope this helps debunk any confusion that might have been caused by the anonymous charges against me. As a candidate, whenever anyone asks about my work experiences, I always tell them what I did and did not do. I specifically recall a meeting of the Brigades in early February of this year when one of the other candidates in our House of Delegates race and I jointly addressed a group of about 30 people. During Q&As, someone asked me about my lobbying work on behalf of Verizon and I told her as well as everyone else in the room about what I did and didn’t do. Among other details, I recall specifically mentioning that I did not lobby on this wiretapping issue, so at least one of my primary election opponents knows the facts as well.
If you still have any questions, again, please feel free to contact me directly and I’m happy to answer any questions.
Thanks for your interest! Mark Keam
For more on the subject, check out Lowell's post at Blue Virginia.