Thursday, June 16, 2011

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6:27 PM June, 16th, Texas Watchdog: HISD vendor state Rep. Borris Miles offered trustees all-expenses-paid Costa Rican trip, email shows. Lynn Walsh, Trent Seibert & Jennifer Peebles, Texas Watchdog.
From the article:
Phone messages left at Miles' legislative office and his Houston insurance office were not returned Thursday afternoon.

7:37 PM June, 16th, Houston Chronicle: HISD trustee confirms vendor-lawmaker set up trips, Ericka Mellon, From the article:
Miles, a Houston Democrat, said the Costa Rican government picked up the tab for the trips, which included others from the Houston area. Miles, who also attended, did not say who else joined him, but Marshall was the only one of the seven HISD trustees he invited to accept the offer.
Miles has contracted with HISD for several years, with his insurance agency earning nearly $900,000 since late June 2009, according to the district's check register.
"We don't even have the health insurance for HISD," Miles said Thursday. "I do flood insurance for HISD. We were just trying to show them ways to cut costs."

Other than the quotes from Miles the two articles are pretty much the same. Now, I know what you're saying "he's saying the Chronicle stole Watchdog's article." No, you're wrong. I believe that the Chronicle came across this independently of the Watchdog. I also believe that the Miles camp went media outlet shopping, and chose to feed the story to a media outlet in Houston that he knew would be sympathetic. It's not illegal, it's not even really unethical. It's called spin. Politicians use it all the time to make sure their stories get spun in the best possible light. They can do this because today's MSM news outlets are two things: 1. Desperate for unique content and 2. Ideologically aligned with certain politicians (Although, it should be said, not political parties, and certainly not if they smell blood in the water.)

With declining readership and an editorial staff that's unaligned with a majority of their readers, the writing is increasingly uncritical and sub-par from a watchdog perspective. That a small, non-profit online media outlet is consistently beating Houston's former newspaper of record to stories tells you pretty much all you need to know. That Miles story is told in only one news outlet tells you more than you need to know.

Congrats to the Watchdog for a job well done.

Note: Again, because no-one is going to get this right, I'm NOT accusing the Chronicle of doing anything wrong. I'm just saying that they are not doing a good job in my opinion reporting the news.

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