Dave Heineman's Spokesman Hired By His Mouthpieceby Kyle Michaelis
Not only have they used the same talking points but also the same bait-and-switch tactics to manipulate public opinion (so far, to little avail). With this in mind, the following story really doesn't surprise in the slightest. The Reader's Media Notes reports:
Aaron Sanderford is giving up his post as Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman's communications director to join the Omaha World-Herald as an editorial writer.Whether it's been the Omaha World-Herald writing Heineman's speeches or Sanderford writing the Omaha World-Herald's editorials, it's hard to say that Sanderford's relocation is really going to make a difference. This is just one more indication of how completely the Omaha World-Herald is immersed in Nebraska's power structure - to the point that it is completely, purposefully incapable of functioning as an independent press.
Sanderford, 29, spent more than six years at the Lincoln Journal Star before joining Heineman's staff in March of 2005. He reported on business, government, crime, courts, prisons, sports, and entertainment, in addition to serving as the newspaper's night city editor.
A Louisburg, N.C., native, Sanderford earned a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of Kentucky. His last day of work for Heineman will be Feb. 23.
Heineman said the search for Sanderford's replacement will begin immediately.
But, I'm not going to blame Sanderford for this situation. He's just a young guy pursuing a new career path - one who's proven himself quite talented, much to the Democratic Party's dismay and probably to Nebraska's long-term detriment. His job has been to build relationships with the Nebraska media and to control the message they carry to voters. He seems to have done an excellent job at these tasks - even if the ever-eager and complacent media made his an easier job than it had any right to be.
The World-Herald, however, should be more mindful of the public's trust - a trust they've violated in their coverage of the tax debate. To this trust, they also owe complete disclosure of how Sanderford got hired for his new position and what exactly that position will entail. For instance, will Sanderford be writing editorials on the very policies he's been pushing as a state employee over the last two years?
What precautions will be taken to prevent conflicts of interest? And, what assurances do readers have that this is anything more than a marriage of convenience that will only further blend Nebraska's disturbingly broad intersection between partisan politics and the state's most powerful newspaper? In fact, acknowledgement that the World-Herald may have crossed the boundaries of ethical journalism with their relationship to the Governor's office the last two months might already be in order.
Is Sanderford changing jobs or just locations? Is this the end result of a relationship between Heineman and the World-Herald that had become far too friendly or does this just make it official...and, perhaps, permanent?
An intriguing situation. A scary one as well. The most interesting question might just be who answers to whom. Sanderford would know - no doubt about it. But, he no longer has to answer questions. His job is now to tell us what to think. Sadly, with the state of the Nebraska press corps, there was never much of a difference there in the first place.