Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mutually Assured Destruction

I've been delving further into the whole "Character Cities" controversy, which I've mentioned before here. We have a couple of Character Cities in Tennessee, but I have yet to discover whether public officials friendly with the International Association of Character Cities are getting money from the IACC. Some in Texas, Arizona, and Ohio are pursuing that and other questions with more vigor than Tennessee media sources are here.

In looking at the case of Ohio, I've observed some citizen journalists pursuing a Cincinnati City Commissioner--accused of taking IACC funds to support IACC teaching materials in Ohio--for clarification. I consider what I've seen to be a primer on how bloggers should not pursue public officials and on how public officials should not treat bloggers, lest it lead to the mutually assured destruction of reputations. Take a look:

Asking whether the Commissioner received private funds for public promotion of IACC is a fair question that should be answered, even if the source of the question is not a professional journalist. Personal attacks--even when the politician resorts to such in order to evade a legitimate question (and this Commissioner most definitely did)--cross the line and hurt the blogger's credibility. More importantly, those attacks distract from the fair question of whether IACC commissions are going to elected officials.

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