Monday, May 1, 2017

San Antonio's Top Prosecutor Publicly Scolds Newspaper for Reporting Things

Posted By and on Mon, May 1, 2017 at 3:35 PM

click image KSAT, SCREENSHOT
  • KSAT, screenshot
By now, it's become commonplace for politicians to blame the press for lying if it reports on anything that makes them look bad.

We all remember President Donald Trump attacking any news organization critical of his campaign, lovingly calling journalists the "enemy of the American people." Then Texas' top officials joined the fight, calling all state reporting that didn't align with their beliefs "fake news." This was shortly followed by San Antonio mayoral candidate Manuel Medina leading a rally in front of the San Antonio Express-News, protesting over a column that suggested he may have lied about his past.

And now, Bexar County District Attorney has decided it's time to jump on the media-bashing bandwagon.

On Monday morning, Bexar County DA Nicolas "Nico" LaHood issued a cryptic — yet familiar — statement to local media.

"During the past several years of serving our community, I have come to understand that there are those who do not care to acknowledge a person's true intentions," he began. "Unfortunately, it has become painfully obvious that the Express-News falls into this category. There is clearly an agenda to attack me and the District Attorney's office. They continuously ignore the truth and fail to report the facts."

La Hood went on to scold the media as a whole. "Many of us see the unsettling reality that journalism is turning from objective reporting to profit-driven opinion creation," he wrote. It's not exactly clear who "us" is in this context. A paragraph later, LaHood praised other local media outlets for being "responsible and ethical."

In his open letter to the media and public, LaHood doesn't explain why, exactly, he's so pissed at the Express-News. Is it the daily's recent reporting on how one of his top prosecutors testified against a bill meant to protect crime victims? Or is it the coverage of LaHood allegedly threatening other lawyers in front of a district judge? Maybe he's still peeved that the paper said that his vaccine conspiracy theories "contradict science"?

As it turns out, it's all of these things.

“I think it’s obvious that the coverage in the Express-News has been selective at best," LaHood told the Current. It seems the DA just does not like the way the daily writes about him — in general.

For example: In April, Express-News columnist Brian Chasnoff reported that Michael Hoyle, chief of LaHood’s criminal trial division, was the only person to testify against "Jenny's Law" (a bill to protect crime victims' rights) at the state capitol. LaHood argues that Chasnoff shouldn't have taken that testimony seriously — or at least should have double-checked with LaHood before reporting on what one of his chief deputies told lawmakers in a public hearing.

"(Hoyle's) words to that committee were not my words. I am not against the law. It’s just not practical as written," LaHood said by phone on Monday. LaHood told us he never specifically asked the E-N for a retraction or clarification of Chasnoff's column (which was titled, LaHood would argue problematically, "LaHood opposes ‘Jenny’s Law'").

LaHood also told us he's spoken to Sen. John Whitmire, the author of Jenny's Law, to explain any practical issues he has with the bill's wording and to work with the office on tweaking the language. A staffer in Whitmire's office tells us they haven't heard anything from LaHood's office since Hoyle's testimony. (LaHood then told us he'd had a dinner scheduled with Whitmire that fell through.)

LaHood also argued the daily newspaper has only focused on the negative things a district judge said about his "unprofessional" courtroom behavior in a recent case. And as a result, he's decided the DA's office should shoulder the responsibility for "holding the media accountable."

But mostly just for stories that make him look bad.


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