Jul 15, 2019
Illustration provided by The Collegian

Editorial: Devin Nunes attacks our free press

Republican congressional candidate Devin Nunes has recently accused The Fresno Bee of being “the Valley’s propaganda machine” in what is a repugnant attack on our free press.

Nunes’ campaign committee funded and authorized a 40-page magazine-style mailer that was published and sent out to voters in District 22. In it, Nunes claims that The Bee sides with his Democratic challenger Andrew Janz.

False accusations strewn throughout the mailer heavily misrepresent The Bee and the journalism ethics papers like it abide by. With no professional allegiance to a political party, reporters have a mission to serve the public.

We would know because, even as a student newspaper, we are taught to follow the same guidelines to produce meaningful and unbiased reporting for the betterment of our readers.

In spreading false information about nonexistent connections between The Bee’s reporters and Janz, Nunes seeks to degrade the integrity of The Bee. But, we know well that The Bee would never stoop to the level that Nunes thinks. No community newspaper ever would.

The Bee has endorsed Nunes several times in the past. We are certain that the editorial policies at The Bee have not changed much from the first time it endorsed Nunes to now. But clearly our congressman has changed, and his attacks on The Bee prove he is no longer focused on his job.

As a newspaper, The Bee clearly demonstrates to us – aspiring journalists and readers – that it strives to bring news and maintain balanced reporting as much as possible. From many articles in The Bee about Nunes, it’s clear Nunes has no interest in letting his voters know his position on issues when The Bee asks him to weigh in. Regardless, a newspaper has its job to do and deadlines to meet.

The misinformation by Nunes in his mailer is a desperate act by him to defend himself against the harsh truths that The Bee reports. Going out of his way to discredit news sources shows us the type of politician that Nunes is now. His mailer is riddled with inconsistencies that should be clear to any sane voter.

Objectivity remains key to showing the public what the truth is. And sometimes, in the opinion pages, newspaper staffers must speak out against attacks on our freedoms as Americans. Nunes has threatened our source of information. That is unacceptable.

Aside from wasting time, money and paper, the home mailer is not an adequate substitute for meeting voters face to face.

As we near election day on Nov. 6, The Bee’s reporting has increasingly turned to the races that impact our region. That is completely normal. If Janz holds community events, that’s newsworthy. If Nunes held community events, we are certain a Bee reporter would take a front row seat. And we would hope Nunes would be OK with that.

Nunes’ mailer is an insult to voters, who would benefit from hearing where he stands on water, immigration, jobs and health. The Bee serves us by informing on these very issues. And when Nunes is asked to weigh in, he declines and instead attacks. We believe that District 22 voters deserve a politician who doesn’t attack a community’s vital source of information.

As a newspaper, The Collegian strives to bring to light what our readers might be confused about in daily life. Political propaganda like Nunes’ only makes journalism more important – to clear the air of blatant lies.

As we enjoy National Newspaper Week, we take strong offense to Nunes’ attacks on our free press. As the student newspaper serving the only public university in Nunes’ district, we have an obligation to tell our readers why Nunes’ attacks are dangerous.

We hope that readers consider who they vote for wisely this coming election.

This editorial board is not here to choose a political side. We are here to endorse The Bee’s and any newspaper’s journalism. You should too.

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