Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


That should have been the headline on today's "story" in the Oregonian -- the actual headline was Conservative coalition hears private speech -- by veteran political reporter Harry Esteve.

The story notes that Republican Ron Saxton spoke Tuesday to a group of roughly 20 people "representing a variety of conservative causes in Oregon," but a reporter for the Oregonian (read: Esteve) was "ejected" just before the speech.

I love that word: it evokes images of burly bouncers picking up the diminutive reporter and hurling him through a window. And don't come back!

In reality, it was a meeting that was mentioned on Saxton's website as a lunch appearance with the "Center-Right Coalition." Does its mention on the website mean anyone can come? I don't know -- Saxton campaign manager Felix Schein (note to Esteve: Felix's last name is Schein, not -- as you spelled it -- Stein) said his candidate had nothing to do with the reporter's "ejection," but noted that listing a private meeting on the website was a mistake.

But it's plain from the tenor of the story (not to mention its placement on Page 1 of the Metro section, and its listing under the "Top Stories" section of the O's website) that Esteve wasn't happy that he drove all way the way to Wilsonville only to be excluded.

I've been reading Esteve since I was a journalism major at the University of Oregon more than 20 years ago and he was working at the Register-Guard, and I can't remember ever seeing something from him that was so temper-tantrum-ish. Since he wasn't given the proper recognition as an important political reporter (wah!) for the state's largest and most influential newspaper (wah!), he did almost everything he could to register his displeasure in print.

The meeting included several groups, including anti-tax, property rights, crime, abortion, the libertarian Cascade Policy Institute, and -- gasp! -- a Republican legislative staffer. The "Center-Right Coalition," Esteve wrote, is associated with "national anti-tax activist Grover Norquist," and a representative of Norquist's organization, Americans for Tax Reform, was at the meeting. ATR has contributed to petition drives for measures that would restrict state spending and limit legislative terms.

The only thing missing from the description, surprisingly, was that Norquist has been linked to Jack Abramoff.

Esteve also noted that an editor from Brainstorm Magazine was also present, and that she distributed copies of the magazine. Esteve didn't say if she was allowed to stay after he was "ejected," but you could almost hear Esteve's whine through the story: "But, but, but . . . you let her in! No fair!"

Jason Williams, executive director of the Taxpayer Association of Oregon and the meeting organizer, told Esteve that the group decided not to allow reporters because "there are some things that people share when there's not a reporter there." In other words, we can trust the Brainstorm editor to be fair; we're not sure the same can be said about you.

Esteve went on to note that the group has no official policy about news media at its meetings (indicating, I guess, that it was playing favorites; wah!); and quoted Ted Kulongoski's campaign manager as labeling the group "the far right wing of the Republican Party" and claiming Kulongoski gives the same speech, "whether it's business, labor or a civic group."

As if that somehow adds something to the story. I guess it's meant to insinuate that Saxton was giving secret messages to his cabal of neocon advisors. Never mind that Schein said Saxton gave his standard speech.


UPDATE: Rob Kremer is on the same page as me, except he has more knowledge -- he sometimes goes to these meetings.


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