Irvine Tattler on Gallinger’s Voting Record: “It was accurate when we wrote it”

Earlier this week, we exposed as false Stephen Smith’s charge in an Irvine Tattler story that Irvine City Council candidate Todd Gallinger did not vote for Measure H, the anti-lobbyist provision of the city’s tough Ethics Ordinance.  We secured a document from the Register of Voters and a statement that Gallinger had in fact voted.

Gallinger emailed Smith with the documents whcih Smith verified with the RoV; Gallinger asked Smith rto retract the story completely.  Smith, to his credit, reported the corrected information, but rather than just print the correction or retract the story, Smith is *rewriting* the story to remove the charge that Gallinger didn’t vote.

More after the jump.

In his story correcting the record, Smith writes:

Mr. Gallinger demanded that the entire article be removed from this web site. I will not do so. The article was factual based on the evidence at hand. The article was written in good faith. It discussed other matters regarding Mr. Gallinger’s qualifications for office, and those matters remain. The original article has been removed, and will be replaced with a new article containing information that has been verified.

It is a fundamental right of all Americans to question the qualifications of their elected officials and candidates. It is also a fundamental right of all Americans such as Mr. Gallinger to question the veracity of this article. Because he has that right, and because the Registrar confirmed that he was telling the truth, I am rewriting the article to remove what was inaccurate.

I also want to note that I believe the Registrar of Voters acted in good faith. There’s been a lot of debate the last eight years about the hazards of automating election ballot counting, all the way back to hanging chads in Florida. Mr. Gallinger was the unfortunate victim of a computer glitch. The Registrar provided me information they thought was accurate. I printed an article based on information I thought was accurate. When Mr. Gallinger contacted me to say he had voted, I told him the discrepancy was with the Registrar, and he needed to contact them to correct it. He did. So I am doing what I believe is the right thing.

And in an email to Gallinger, Smith wrote:

If there’s any “blame” to be placed here, it’s with the technical flub the Registrar experienced at City Hall. My article was factual based on the information I was given by the Registrar, and if I hadn’t reported on it your record would still show that you didn’t vote.

The parts of the article discussing your recent move from Aliso Viejo and your change of partisan affiliation will remain, since those parts are accurate. I’m sure you’ve noticed that in the web site’s banner it states all articles are the opinion of the author, and as a candidate for office I’m sure you realize that constitutionally I am entitled to comment on your qualifications for office — just as you are entitled to question the veracity of what I write. I’m more than happy to post your replies to any article I write.

This flies in the face of any journalistic standards in regards to correcting major errors in Smith’s “news” articles.  Smitgh still has not corrected stories regarding Gallinger’s residency, even though the documents he received from the RoV have Gallinger’s home address on them.  And Smith still stands by his charge that Gallinger graphically altered a headline from the Orange County Register suggesting Mayoral candidate Christina Shea was a lobbyist (the online edition has a different subjead than the print edition; even so, the print edition was used in the mailer and was not altered.  Even the text of the article suggests Shea was a lobbyist without explicitly saying so). 

What Smith fails to recognize is that the articles he wrote about Gallinger’s residency and the altering of a headline, a serious charge, were written and posted well before Gallinger was a council candidate.  I’d argue Smith crappy hacket job are partly responsible for Todd jumping in the fray and running. 

I’m curious. We’ve pointed out a number of errors in Smith’s stories.  Because he provides links to other sources in the reporting he does, there’s an assumption that the guy is telling the truth.  But click the links to the stories, and you’ll often discover that even Ann Coulter seems to do a better job of attributing information in the endnotes of her own God-awful books. 

Absent in any story from the Tattler is any detail about what Shea and Council member Stephen Choi plan to accomplish in office should they be elected. 

I thank Smith for this line: It is a fundamental right of all Americans to question the qualifications of their elected officials and candidates.

As we wind down the election cycle, we’ll be questioning the condcut and actions that Christina Shea took during her final year in office as Mayor in 1999 and 2000.  From fixing a parking ticket to nepotism in hiring to threats to the police and to threatening voice mails to city employees. Voters do have a right to know that a candidate is not going to abuse her office.  Because if Smith can go back in time 8 years to slam Larry Agran, then its fair game for us to go back 8 years to remind voters of Shea’s record as mayor then too.

Smith wraps up his last email to Gallinger with a:

May I also suggest that you and I meet some time over lunch or whatever. You seem to have a lot of misconceptions about me. It might be mutually beneficial to clear the air.

Not sure where the two might meet, but I hope its a place that serves crow.