Honest Conversation…

Dear Editor,

It may be acceptable to rabid partisans if their favorite candidate or opinionator misrepresents the facts or misleads the voters, but professional journalists know that their code of ethics calls for them to “verify information before releasing it,” “take special care to not misrepresent or oversimplify” or to “never deliberately distort facts or context.”

Sometimes errors do occur and professionals learn and make concerted efforts to improve. Someone, of course, needs to point out the mistakes. In that light, Commissioner McDonald had every right, and should be appreciated for his courage to do so, to correct Publisher Olson’s oversights. The commissioner did not, contrary to the overly sensitive emotional frailty of some who distort merely because of a cultured bias, express in the Reader any disregard of or disrespect for Publisher Olson. Rather, Commissioner McDonald, in an adult fashion, clarified the facts regarding the to-be ballot issue.

Publisher Olson might have felt a little sting, as would most people, but as a professional he has more likely learned from it and will improve himself and his product. It is nice to hear from our elected officials at times other than when they are seeking re-election.

Hopefully, the Reader will continue to encourage to seek and accept the opinions of everyone.

Jeremy Conlin


Mr. Conlin,

It’s swell that you Googled the journalism code of ethics and all, but I’m still unclear as to how I misrepresented any facts in my barb. 

I simply pointed out, by using data obtained by the Bonner County Elections Office, that I felt an advisory vote on the proposed Scotchman Peak Wilderness Bill during the primaries as opposed to the general election is not a true representation of the people. Those registered as Republican vote at a much higher rate during the primaries than do independents and Democrats. McDonald’s letter didn’t actually dispute my facts because they are accurate. His letter simply changed the narrative and claimed my “sin of omission” made it inaccurate. It didn’t.

Also, it needs to be said: the barbs column is an opinion column, not news. You’re treating it as if it’s a hard news column. Please don’t. Opinions are subjective – if you don’t agree with them, it doesn’t make them inaccurate. 

The current Commissioners, under McDonald’s lead, seem hellbent on tanking this proposed bill, which is odd since the commissioners in 2015 voted unanimously to support it. What has changed?

If you want to talk about a misrepresentation of facts, how about Commissioner Dan McDonald speaking on KRFY 88.5 FM on Jan. 10, 2018. When speaking about the proposed wilderness bill, Commissioner McDonald claimed that Sen. Risch’s office “…didn’t consider (collected comments at open houses) to be scientific, because there were a lot of people from out of state who were for it and a lot of locals who were against it…” It was this claim that caused Sid Smith, Sen. Risch’s North Idaho Regional Director, to email McDonald upbraiding him for promoting false information and putting words in their mouth.

In an email obtained via a public records request by the Reader, Smith wrote to McDonald: “If we received any comments from out of state residents at Hope or Clark Fork, whether they were from Washington, Montana or the four corners of the Union, we did not count them in the percentages … that would be your conclusion, and one that directly contradicts the numbers I quoted to you … it is you who are trying to make the connection to the out-of-state residents at the open houses – not me.”

Is my response “adult” enough for you?

-Ben Olson, publisher.

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