No enemies behind these lines

By Messenger Staff | Published Saturday, September 7, 2013

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Maybe you’ve seen the T-shirt: “I’m not trying to annoy you. It’s effortless.”

This week, the Messenger has apparently become a major annoyance to the Wise County Democratic Party leadership, with virtually no effort.

It has long been our practice to run “announcement” stories when a candidate – from the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green or whatever party – kicks off a campaign for office. We don’t charge for that. We consider it newsworthy and a service to our readers.

Those stories may include news releases, but we edit them, and in most cases we assign reporters to interview the candidate and do a real story.

At this point, while we wouldn’t shy away from any controversies the candidate may have been involved in, we don’t seek out opposing views. The purpose is to announce their candidacy and give a rundown of their background and qualifications, why they’re running for the office, etc.

The opposing view comes – and this may be a shocker – when there’s an actual opponent.

Our Tuesday Update had an item noting Chico mayor J.D. Clark was planning to announce his candidacy for Wise County judge and that we would have a story in the midweek Messenger.

Tuesday morning we got a “news release” from Democratic party chair Tracy Smith – a fairly detailed list of reasons Clark may not be qualified for the office. A good bit of it focused on his age, the size of Chico city government versus the size of county government and positions he has taken as mayor.

It also contained some baseless accusations and linked Clark with some things a mayor has absolutely no control of, in Chico or anywhere else.

Emails and phone calls followed, making sure we’d gotten Smith’s release in time for our deadline so it could be included in Clark’s announcement story. We were informed that, in order to be fair, we were obligated to include the opposing view.

No, we’re not.

Here are our obligations:

  • To the candidates: To treat them fairly, cover legitimate news in which they’re involved and provide an advertising medium in which thousands of readers can see their ads.
  • To the readers: Provide factual information on candidates, campaign events and election dates and offer a forum in which they can voice their opinions.
  • To the political parties: None.

Here’s our policy: The filing period opens Nov. 9 and closes Dec. 9. We’ll continue to run announcement stories through the Dec. 11 issue. After that, candidates are invited to buy advertising.

Once the filing period closes, we’ll run letters to the editor as we receive them, endorsing or critiquing candidates. Those letters need to be brief (200 words or less) and factual, and focus on issues rather than personal attacks.

We’ll run political letters through Feb. 22, 2014. After that, a candidate might not have time to respond before the March 4 primary election – and that wouldn’t be fair.

Smith’s letter might indeed provide some valuable talking points for someone running against Clark, but to this point, no Democrat has announced as a candidate in this race.

The only other announced candidate is the incumbent, County Judge Bill McElhaney – but as a Republican, it’s unlikely he is looking to Democratic leadership for his talking points.

What is likely is that this newspaper, by the end of the political season next November, will have annoyed all the candidates and all the parties.

Some will undoubtedly read some kind of bias between these lines, but there isn’t any. We’re not on a side. Our policies and practices are open, consistent with those of most real newspapers, and they will continue to be applied equally to all – even those who kick off the campaign season by accusing us of having no ethics.

If you don’t believe it, just send us a letter (after Dec. 9) – or better yet, a candidate.

9 Responses to “No enemies behind these lines”

  1. Rusty White says:

    Dang, a little thin skinned aren’t ya? A simple response would have been enough would it not, by going on and on it tends to make one wonder why, does it not?

    I try and stay clear of politics in Wise County, a while back I did get involved and sadly got to see the majorities vote means little to nothing! At our Democratic meeting in Booneville I asked that a open discussion and vote be taken on medical marijuana and have it added to our county and state platform. The precinct chair ”openly” stated her displeasure by saying “nobody cares about this issue”, to her I replied this is not about your beliefs, is it! She reluctantly took a vote, guess what it passed “overwhelmingly”!

    So later I go to the big county meeting, guess what this wasn’t even on the agenda? Seems some in the party leadership did not want it even brought for discussion? Luckily there was a young lady that was able to “make” the leadership let me speak, guess what once again it passed with an “overwhelming majority” AGAIN!

    Didn’t take but two times for me to realize those running the parties in Wise County could care less about what the majority wants, their personal beliefs and agendas mean more than listening to a “overwhelming majority”, sad but true!

    We always hear how politicians are not listing or they are out of touch with those they supposedly represent. Could it be because the leadership at all levels in “both” parties manipulate ideas, candidates and agendas in to office that “don’t” represent the “overwhelming majority”????

    There is a reason I have been an “independent” for so many years, and “millions” are becoming as well! The leadership in “both” parties care only about a “minorities” beliefs and agendas and the “overwhelming majority” can be damned and silenced solely on the whim of a “FEW”!

    We all hear how everybody wants less government in our lives, then stop the “Nanny politics” at all levels and let the ideas, agendas and beliefs of the “overwhelming majority” rule, FACT!!!


  2. Tracy Smith says:

    Hello Rusty, I was the Young Lady who forced the people to her your resolution. If you are a Democrat, as you were then, your opinion should be heard and that is the reason I defended your right to ask the County Delegates to hear your ideas.

    However, the majority ruled if those chose to vote down the resolution to support Legalized MJ Resolution and there was nothing anybody could do about that. That was in 2008. 4 years later in 2012, under different leadership, Resolutions were passed by county delegates to forward a similar resolution regarding it’s medical use to the State Party. I’ll have to do some research to see where that wound up with the State Party.

    I hope you decide to re-join the group and see what the last 4+ years have done for our local and state party.

    WCM = Faux news of Wise County.

  3. Rusty White says:


    Thank you, I have pretty much lost any and all faith in “both” parties. There is no new blood, no new ideas or agendas, each keeps manipulating the views of the past and that of a minority into office! I’ll try and stop by and visit one of your events in the future, but as usual I “will” refuse to be silent!:)

    Best of luck, and again THANK YOU!:)

  4. Walt Partin says:

    I am a Democrat in Wise County and I read the Messenger. I have never found anything editorial in it to compare it with FOX(FAUX) news. We live in a county dominated by conservatives so they get most of the coverage. I do not like to read about Democrats pulling conservative tactics of personal attacks. I know J. D. Clark and he is quite capable of doing anything he sets his mind to. In ’08 when he was a Democrat he and I were among the eight Caucus attendees to cast our vote for Obama against Hillary. There were over 60 in attendance (mostly Republicans voting for Hillary) and I was impressed with him then. I only wish he hadn’t given in to the pressure to run as a Republican. That is the only way you can get elected in this County. We Democrats are not that popular here so it is important for the Democratic leadership to stay on the high road and leave pettiness to others.

  5. Rusty White says:


    “”We Democrats are not that popular here so it is important for the Democratic leadership to stay on the high road and leave pettiness to others.”””

    When those of your party “overwhelmingly” vote an issue, should they be silenced??? I for one could give a “damn” about being popular, right is right and wrongs is wrong, PERIOD!!! It has been “way to long” that a common man could stand and have the same respect as these “supposed” chosen ones, FACT!!!

    The party that starts to accept the veiws of “ALL” instead of their supposed chosen ones, will gain many new voters, FACT!!


  6. Walt Partin says:

    Rusty, I have no idea what you are talking about. I am not involved in county political organizations. I have only been to one Democratic party meeting and that was in 2006. I was invited to speak about the need for a new county animal shelter. My remarks here were directed at the leadership of the Wise County Democrats.

  7. Tracy Smith says:

    Mr Partin,

    With all due respect, you are basing your opinion on an editorial by the Wise County Messenger, who chose not to run an opposing view of the Front Page story and based on the Press release of the WCRP. JD Clark was also a delegate to the Convention for County Republicans for 2010 and 2012 and was a Republican Party state Delegate in 2012. The apple has fallen far from the tree my friend.

    Mr. Partin, you are welcome to attend any meeting of the WCDP to review the opposing view we have on ANY Republican Party leaders or their ideology to make an educated decision and please be ever so kind to give us the same courtesy the messenger chose not to give.

  8. Rusty White says:


    No harm or blame was meant, sadly my skills on this thing are still lacking, SORRY. I too try and stay out of the politics in Wise County, you nailed it on the head! A few control and run this county, sad but true!””BUT”” it is ALL OUR fault for letting it happen, is it not?One day we must “ALL” stand and change the world we live in, this whole state has been manipulated for YEARS!!!

    If those behide us are going to have any chance at all, we must stand NOW!!! For to long a minority of self proclaimed chosen ones have force their beliefs in to our laws and courts, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!


  9. Walt Partin says:

    Tracy, I based my post on the fact that you included personal attacks on J. D. Clark in your opposing view and the fact that on this page you said “WCM = Faux news of Wise County.”
    I am quiet capable of making decisions about candidates at the local level. I have known J. D. since he was in high school with my granddaughter. I am a member of the Democratic Party through the DNC. Party affiliations at the county level are arbitrary. If the county turns blue so will these same elected officials.


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