If politicians can with indignation and a straight face say that black is white, and white is black, what is truth, and what becomes of an informed democracy? The fail-safe, one would like to believe, is good journalism. But the lies have become more brazen, and the liars have realized they can build their own alternate reality narrative, and take it directly to the people. Reporting that is slightly to the fact checking-side of “he said, she said” isn’t enough to inform the public about the depths of that kind of manipulation.
On Friday, The Register Citizen covered a press conference by Mark Lauretano, a former state trooper who is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent 64th District state Rep. Roberta Willis (D-Salisbury). Our headline parroted Lauretano’s accusation that Willis was “responsible” for the University of Connecticut failing to properly investigate and respond to sexual assaults on campus.
Acting as though he and his party were on the forefront of confronting this issue, Lauretano held up a book about the problem of sexual assault in this country. He blasted Willis for questioning during a public hearing on the UConn sex assault issue why celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred was in attendance, and said that as chairwoman of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Higher Education Committee she was responsible for not doing something previously about the problem.
Lauretano did not mention Willis’s long track record of advocacy for tougher laws and enforcement of existing laws against sexual assault, including specifically on college campuses.
He did not mention his own complete lack of public record on speaking out about the issue, or that of the group of (all) Republican men assembled with him at his press conference, including people who would repeal Roe vs. Wade and strip women of reproductive rights.
He blasted the idea of “new laws” to address the problem, saying that training of UConn police is what’s needed. Rep. Willis is the sponsor of legislation that actually would do something about sex assaults on campus, and she has proposed it in past years, too, before the UConn issue exploded into the media.
So we ran a headline allowing someone who has no public record of raising his voice to do anything about sexual assault or rape culture in this state, and who actually opposes legislation to address it, to accuse a longtime leading voice against it of being responsible for the sex assault problem at UConn, when she’s actually been one of the few legislators calling attention to and fighting it.
P.S. – Maybe it shouldn’t surprise us how brazen Mark Lauretano could be in saying outrageous things considering the company he keeps. Front and center at his press conference, and mugging for the camera with him, was Joe Visconti, an also-ran candidate for the Republican nomination for governor this year who says things like this:
— Matt DeRienzo (@mattderienzo) February 3, 2013
Update: Roberta Willis receives the 2014 Visionary Voice Award from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.