Saturday, April 18, 2009

RETRACTION: Tea Parties in Springdale Arkansas

Your reporter is about to eat crow.

It appears I owe an apology to the Springdale City government due to some of the claims in my report that officials in the city refused to issue a permit to have a "Tea Party" in that city. Because my report was so strongly worded, I believe that I need to put myself "on suspension" for a while, just as I did a couple of years ago when I went with a story that later turned out to be wrong.

I had two sources high up in the area Tea Party movement tell me that the people they assigned to get the permit from Springdale told them all at the meeting that "after talking to the city of Springdale, a Tea Party there is just not going to happen". A man named Eric Batey made that statement. The impression the hearers got was that the city was not cooperative with the request. Recently I learned that Mayor Sprouse of Springdale challenged the story......

"What you state is simply not true. I was first made aware of this rumor Monday morning by Mike Disney. My staff and I checked with every department and no one had received a request for a permit for a Tea Party. I had Wyman Morgan, our Director of Administration, call Mike back and let him know how he could get a permit. Our city would never refuse a permit for any peaceful demonstration whether we agree with the cause or not. It just so happens, by the way, that I support the Tea Party effort and what it stands for. I’ve been hearing about it for some time now on Fox News and the Shaun Hannity radio program.

I don’t know if anyone from the organization followed through and got the permit or not- but if there is not a rally in Springdale , it’s not because the city government denied permission. It’s amazing to me how quick we are to believe something negative just because someone put it on a website or a blog. You know as well as I do that anyone can say anything without any accountability to the truth. I am thankful that you contacted me so I could set the record straight. I only ask that when given the opportunity, you’ll be as willing to spread the truth about this matter as you were to believe a false rumor. I know you will because I see from your quote at the bottom of your email that you trust our Lord and Savior- that tells me that the truth is of the utmost importance in your life. If you have other questions or would like to discuss this further, call me anytime on my cell, XXX-XXXX."

Once I learned that the facts were in dispute, I called my sources and got the name and phone number of one of the people that was in charge of getting a Springdale Tea Party set up, Eric Batey. He said he did not feel that Springdale was singling them out, but rather that they had standard procedures in place for protests that the Tea Party did not have time to work around. His statement at the meeting was misunderstood. "We contacted the city, we were told that we needed specific documentation and insurance. We did not have time to do it", Batey summed up.

I retract the story and intend to write a letter of apology to the mayor's office today. I have published 1500+ stories since I started this blog in 2005. Sometimes I get it wrong, and I got this one wrong. I also need to figure out how long a "forced vacation" I should have from blogging.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like you might want to check with all parties before assume what someone told you is the truth.

Just Journalism 101

3:35 PM, April 18, 2009  
Blogger fortruth said...

Thanks for setting the record straight. I appreciate your honesty and humility. While accurate journalism is important, humility takes guts and character. Good for you!

Keeping it all in the light!

9:24 PM, April 18, 2009  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

for truth, thank you for that.


Journalism 101? I am sure the parties I write about will return the calls of a blogger! The mayor of Springdale might, and that is where I messed up, but routinely, no they would not.

I also want you to think about something else, how many times have you read "Jones was not available for comment" or words to that effect in a story where Jones is a key player? They are written every day.

The reporters call a guys office or home number and if he does not answer right away they just go ahead and print the story before the next reporter does. And with papers, once it is printed it goes out with no chance for rebuttal. If anyone in Springdale had known or cared at the time I put that story up, they could have rebutted me right in the comments section.

7:29 AM, April 19, 2009  
Anonymous Tophat said...

Big words of wisdom from an anonymous poster!

9:23 AM, April 20, 2009  

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