George Kennedy's recent opinion piece title "Watchdogs get it right" would be more accurate as "Watchdogs for the left." Like many of the stories and editorials on which it was based, Mr. Kennedy's op-ed on e-mails and the governor's office included many inaccuracies and liberal bias.
Mr. Kennedy is right about one thing. The media does play an important role as a watchdog for the people. But it also has an important responsibility to report the facts and the truth. When the media does not report the truth, it loses its credibility as a watchdog. When journalists hold Republican officials to a different standard than Democratic officials, they lose much more than that.
Unfortunately, this is what occurred with the coverage of e-mails released by the governor's office. Some reporters wanted so badly to believe a dishonest statement by a former employee of this office, that the truth was lost along the way.
Mr. Kennedy falsely asserts that a former employee of the governor's office wrote several e-mails "warning that the Open Records law required that e-mails be retained" and was fired. This is false. The more than 60,000 pages of requested e-mails do not support his claims. However, there are many e-mails proving our statements about the true reasons he was fired: poor job performance, insubordination, tardiness and using state resources for private work.
As the Associated Press accurately reported: "There were no e-mails that state Eckersley was fired for raising concerns about the office's e-mail policies."
Mr. Kennedy falsely claims that the leaders of state government "have been lying to us." This is false. The governor's office was proven correct by the e-mails. It was a former employee of the governor's office who was proven dishonest.
Mr. Kennedy falsely asserts "they lied" about public records. This is false. We told the truth about public records and provided more than 60,000 pages of e-mails requested by the media. The governor's office has provided more information to the public than any other state official and we have never denied access to any e-mail that was not protected by law.
Mr. Kennedy falsely claims "they lied" about communicating with pro-life coalition groups in response to Jay Nixon's conflict of interest in Planned Parenthood lawsuits. This is false. The governor's office has publicly stated its belief that Jay Nixon is not capable of defending the state against lawsuits filed by his pro-abortion contributors and supporters. Jay Nixon apparently agrees. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "I'm pro-choice, I have a conflict."
There is absolutely nothing wrong with communicating with coalition groups over matters of public policy. If Mr. Kennedy disagrees, we suggest he encourage journalists to look into Jay Nixon's collaboration with liberal groups like the Sierra Club to support his losing position over the Boonville Bridge.
Mr. Kennedy falsely asserts "they lied" about an effort to subvert the state's judicial selection system. Wrong again. Gov. Blunt selected Judge Patricia Breckenridge to serve on the Missouri Supreme Court and she was recently retained by Missourians with 73.3 percent of the vote.
Journalists and all Missourians should know that Gov. Blunt has made state government more open and transparent than any other state official in Missouri history. Gov. Blunt has been praised by watchdog groups for placing Missouri's checkbook on the Internet with the creation of the Missouri Accountability Portal. He directed the creation of a permanent e-mail retention and retrieval system. Only Gov. Blunt's administration and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder are using the new e-mail retention system. All other state officials are destroying their e-mails without any scrutiny by Mr. Kennedy. Gov. Blunt has also released more e-mails and documents than any other state official in Missouri history.
Readers should be wary of "watchdogs" who only present one side of the story. The governor's office has corrected many of the false assertions in Mr. Kennedy's op-ed and other publications and we hope your readers will check the facts at governor.mo.gov.
Those in the media should take their role as objective watchdogs seriously when it comes to all political parties and not let their own biased views impact their reporting.
Trish Vincent is the chief of staff for Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt.