We always know we're sounding the right notes on a story when a politician and her "friends" start crying foul in such an over-the-top way that it makes us laugh out loud. Such is the case with California Asseblywoman Betsy Butler, who's running for Assembly District 50 in a tight race against Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom.
On Butler's official Twitter account, with the headline "Yellow Journalism, Negative Attack Ads and Dirty Politics," the assemblywoman links to an article on the blog "Friends of Betsy Butler." The layout of FBB looks almost exactly like her Twitter page, but we don't know who wrote the article since no one has signed his or her name to it. By tweeting the piece, though, Butler obviously approves what was so outlandishly written.
A little background: Butler has been taking major heat from CNN's Anderson Cooper, education reform activists, rival Richard Bloom and his supporters, and concerned voters about her NOT voting on a sex-pervert bill that would have streamlined the process to get predatory teachers out of the classroom.
That bill was written by California State Senator Alex Padilla, a respected Democrat from Los Angeles who was once the L.A. City Council president. The measure sailed with approval through the state senate, but Butler and several other Democrats killed the bill when it went to the assembly's education committee.
In a time-honored way in Sacramento, Butler tried to stay under the radar during a tight campaign race by not voting on Padilla's bill. But, her non-vote helped to defeat the measure.
Butler and other Democrats were exposed in an in-depth L.A. Weekly in July, which was followed up by an Anderson Cooper 360 report in August. A link of the Cooper segment has now been making the rounds on the Internet. Just like with the Weekly article, it's damning, fact-based stuff.
For the past few months, Butler has been trying to dodge her own responsibility for the death of that bill -- and downplay the fact that she, as a legislator, dodged the vote itself by abstaining. And now her "friends" are joining in on the act, with Butler sharing their article to her 49 Twitter followers.
In the blog post, Friends of Betsy Butler describe L.A. Weekly as "one of the lesser known papers in the Los Angeles region." Right away, we got a chuckle.
Over the years, the Weekly has won dozens of national and local journalism awards for our news, food, and arts and culture coverage, including the Pulitzer Prize. For more than 30 years, we have been the leading alternative newspaper in Los Angeles.
Friends then charge that we have "decided to abandon all pretense of having journalistic ethics and instead appear to be the primary media cheerleaders for the latest false, baseless and slanderous attack."
During our coverage about Butler's non-vote, we have not received one email or phone call from Butler or her campaign staffers about any forms of slander and factual inaccuracies. In fact, CNN, one of the world's major news outlets, appears to have based its segment on our award-winning, independent-minded reporting.
Also, Friends of Betsy Butler do not specifically state what was false, baseless, and slanderous about our coverage. Instead, they merely throw out code words to distract people, which many political observers consider the lowest form of political dialogue. With Butler tweeting and trying to spread the word about this article, she clearly supports such a thing.
In the article, Friends of Betsy Butler question if the Bloom campaign has been "coordinating" with independent expenditure groups, which is against the law. FBB then takes the conspiracy theory a jaw-dropping step further and charges that the Weekly is also working with a political group.
FBB writes, "[A]nd frankly to which special interest group have they sold out their editorial, blog and twitter profiles to during this election to become a full fledged corporate shill instead of a newspaper? Just look at how hard their managing editor is attempting to sway public opinion."
FBB then cites a tweet by the Weekly's Jill Stewart, in which she merely paraphrases our headline for a recent news story about Butler.
No special interest group of any kind has ever contacted us to work with them on the Butler story. You know why? They'd be immediately laughed at and then we'd quickly write a story about how that special interest group is trying to get the press to do its dirty work. With the Weekly's dozens of national and local awards, our journalistic reputation is impeccable.
The Weekly jumped on the news story about Butler's failure to vote on a sex-pervert bill that would have better protected children in July, 2012. Like any good newspaper, we followed up on the story since then. Our coverage has been far ahead of Bloom's campaign attacks on Butler's vote and any other group's.
FBB then writes that "while politics is a nasty business, there are too many lines being crossed by both the campaign of Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom; the various independent expenditure committees he *appears* to be sharing plans and language of attacks with and now the L.A Weekly...Shame on the L.A. Weekly to sink to such a disgusting low."
Again, the Weekly has never worked with the Bloom campaign or anyone else. We were way ahead on the story about Butler not voting for a sex pervert bill, and all parties involved ran with what we found.
Additionally, failing to better protect children from predatory teachers is a very serious thing. Some would say much more serious than two campaigns illegally sharing political strategies, although we completely oppose that as well.
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As education reformer and Parent Revolution executive director Ben Austin told us in July, "That vote was outrageous. If you ever needed a prove point that the interests of powerful special interests trump the needs of parents and kids, that was it."
Austin, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, also noted that Butler and Assemblyman Mike Eng, who was one of four Democrats who abstained, "should be embarrassed. They should be ashamed."
To read more about Butler's non-vote and actions on the campaign trail, go to the Weekly stories "Why California Democrats Protect Sex Abuser Teachers" and "Will Betsy Butler's Sex Pervert Vote Kill Her Political Career?"
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.