One thing the ongoing feud between MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann has demonstrated that politics can get very personal. Both anchors are very committed Democrats yet seem to despise each other.
A similar case of the personal becoming political appears to have occured in my birth state of Utah where the Salt Lake-based Deseret Morning News is being accused of mounting a petty feud against Utah Republican legislators.
It all began earlier this summer when the News, along with its rival the Salt Lake Tribune, filed an official information request on an unrelated story. Unfortunately for the News, its request was overly narrow and did not yield the information it had desired.
Upset, News political reporter Lee Davidson called in to complain to John Fellows, the legislative general counsel. Here's what happened next according to Utah House member Steve Urquhart:
Davidson exploded that Fellows “knew what they wanted.” Fellows explained that all sorts of liability could flow from releasing sensitive documents that were never actually requested. And, I’d imagine that Fellows might have wanted to add that it’s not his job to divine what a big, well-lawyered organization (that trades in words, for heaven’s sake) wanted, despite what it actually requested.
Davidson threatened Fellows, saying that his refusal to relent to the demands of the Deseret News would “constitute a declaration of war.” Fellows told him to redraft his request.
Immediately thereafter, the D News hit the Legislative Office of Research and General Counsel (LRGC) with an unprecedented number of records requests, many of them dealing with – you guessed it – personnel issues involving LRGC.
Things don't appear to have ended there, however. Earlier this month, the News ran a mistaken story about Utah's ballot initiative process in which it falsely stated that the state GOP was looking to make it harder for voters to get initiatives onto the ballot. Despite being criticized from several blogs and by the people it originally quoted, the paper has yet to issue a complete retraction.
Is this just the next step in the News's "war?"