When Journalists Lie

More information about the blogger who faces a $2.5 million fine continues to creep into journalism’s circles and David Carr of the New York Times wrote an editorial this week that takes her–and the internet–to task.

Seems the blogger, Crystal Cox, went on a bender to ruin the reputation of an attorney appointed by the Oregon courts to manage the assets of a company that went bankrupt.

Carr reported in his editorial that Cox became interested in the case because a friend of hers had a stake in the bankruptcy outcome. Cox launched a campaign to discredit the Oregon attorney and his firm, creating an internet domain and posting invectives that charged the attorney–Kevin Padrick–with “bribery, tax fraud, money laundering, payoffs and theft,” according to the Times.

Cox, who calls herself an investigative blogger, showered the internet with a load of accusations about Padrick and his firm. A whiz at creating links online, Cox has “some 500 URLs at her disposal and she’s not afraid to use them,” Carr writes in the Times.

In other words, Cox has the know-how to link her smarmy accusations with anyone’s search for this particular attorney: search the web and you get page after page of posts that the attorney is a scoundrel.

Point is, the scoundrel seems to be on the up-and-up, according to Carr, who conducted his own investigation into Cox’s allegations against Padrick.

Carr could find no evidence of fraud or deceit: Padrick had never been disciplined or investigated, and had acted in good faith as the court-appointed attorney in Oregon, and had even recovered 85% of the funds that were returned to the creditors.

So, according to the New York Times, a rogue blogger was able to float stories on the internet–stories that cannot be substantiated–that had the effect of harming someone. The Times reports that Padrick’s business fell by half once Cox launched her campaign.

Columnist Carr makes a good point in his column that, at first blush, news of the $2.5 million lawsuit in Padrick’s favor and against Cox rallied journalism’s troops. A gauntlet dropped at journalism’s door.

Carr’s first response was that “The Man once again had used a boot heel to crush truth and free speech.”

Turns out the boot heel belongs to a self-appointed whistle-blower intent on hurting someone who crossed her path.

When I began knocking on journalism’s door in the wake of the Watergate scandal, I hoped to become an investigative reporter in the tradition of Bernstein and Woodward. Instead my path led me to teach writing and critique journalism, but my romance for the investigative journey remains intact.

So it really pisses me off that someone can claim to be a journalist with the aim of ferreting out the truth when, in fact, she has stitched a reality from creations of her mind.

In turn, journalists rise to the defense to honor free speech, but, in this case, the story is full of lies. And, when free speech harms, and when someone dons the cloak of journalist with no training nor ethical foundation, then it damages us all.


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in news bias, social media, writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to When Journalists Lie

  1. Paula Felsher says:

    A couple of editing points, Sis. In paragraph 7, the second “Carr” is that supposed to be “Padrick”?
    And in the penultimate sentence did you mean “in this case, the story IS full of lies”?
    Now that the nitpicking is over… thanks for pointing this out.
    Cox is no journalist. What she has done is she has used the media to distribute her propaganda. She is no better than the dictators of the world.


  2. Charles Hudson says:

    I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know exactly where the line should be drawn between journalism and, well, non-journalism. But I did appreciate the judge’s thinking and the criteria he laid out that identify standards employed by traditional journalism. I’ve had a couple of run ins in Oregon with entities disguised as journalism but not living up to those standards. A couple of websites calling themselves news or media and a newssource later found to be industry funded whose sole purpose was the ruin a person’s career in State Government – which they largely succeeded in doing.


  3. As it has happened so many times before, opinion will converge once again with the truth, the immutable truth, that all persons are created free and equal in dignity and rights.


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