Saturday, May 03, 2014

KQED Gay Reporter Rims Jo Becker, SF City Atty Herrera's Butts

Government official and New York Times reporter said. Period, end of KQED story. That's the best way to sum up this pathetic excuse of a news story from our local public radio and TV outlet.

On Thursday afternoon, ambitious political climber Dennis Herrera turned over his public office at City Hall to access journalist Jo Becker to advance both of their careers, and you can bet he did this all on the taxpayer's dime. Very odd, considering Herrera's staff publicists usually issue releases when their boss sneezes, nothing was posted to his press room page and no tweets were shared about using him for a photo-op.

(Herrera, left, and Becker with hands over her book. Credit: Scott Shafer, KQED.)

KQED sent their reporter Scott Shafer, who performed classic journalistic stenography, to rim the butts of Becker and Herrera. High school newspaper reporters could have performed actual journalism. Let's examine some of what Shafer wrote:

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera hosted a book signing and legal victory lap in his office Thursday afternoon. The guest of honor: New York Times writer Jo Becker, whose new book, “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality,” details the legal strategy that culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Prop. 8 and allowing same-sex couples to resume getting married here after a five-year hiatus. [...]

So, he arranged to assist a writer make a few bucks and transformed his taxpayer-funded office into a temporary book store. Will Herrera do the same when Ted Olson and David Boies release their book in June about the Prop 8 case they brought to the Supreme Court? Well, if Herrera is in it and favorably so, we can expect another book signing in his office. Back to Shafer:

Herrera, whom the book describes as “jovial,” also admitted a little ambivalence about “Forcing the Spring.”

“The book captured my anxiety and concern about my professional credibility really well,” he joked, referring to a passage in the book noting that the city attorney had not questioned a witness at trial in nine years before doing so during the Prop. 8 trial.

Some of Herrera’s staff attorneys, the real local heroes of the book, recalled their shock at having a reporter present as they prepared for the case behind closed doors. “It goes against everything we learned in law school,” one told me, adding it took a while to let down their guard in front of a journalist.

This is interesting. Here we learn that the City's legal business was discussed in front of and recorded by a journalist, presumably used in her book, and attorney-client privileges didn't apply. A genuine reporter would delve into this. How the hell did Herrera and his staffers evade ethical standards and not violate attorney-client privileges? Shafer again:

[Becker] noted that the Supreme Court’s decision invalidating Prop. 8 on technical grounds, rather the legal team’s arguments that marriage was a fundamental right for all couples regardless of sexual orientation, was considered a disappointment.

On the flight back to California from the East Coast after the decision was announced, Becker said, the attorneys and their plaintiffs were “a little down” because they didn’t get the sweeping 50-state ruling they always wanted. [...]

Of course, with a series of recent rulings overturning same-sex marriage bans in states like Utah and Oklahoma making their way through federal courts, they might get that 50-state ruling yet.

I'm no legal eagle, but I do believe that if and when such a ruling comes from the Supreme Court from one of more of the cases now in litigation, it will because of other legal teams and not Ted Olson, David Boies and Chad Griffin, right?

That aside, Shafer omits the continuing firestorm of controversy over the book and various distortions and charges of access journalism lodged against Becker, not to mention her glorification of her primary sources.

Frankly, given Shafer's long previous history serving as a spokesman for politicians Gray Davis, Art Agnos and Ellen Tauscher, if he ever gets tired of performing steno duties for Herrera, he might start working for the City Attorney or another ambitious politician. Btw, in April Shafer was the host of Equality California's gala dinner fundraiser where none other than Herrera was honored. Showing much favoritism toward one political group you have to cover, Scott?

And KQED dares to call him a reporter.

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