Bob McCarthy’s Sleep Number is “Laurels”

8 Aug

When Bob McCarthy unprofessionally attacks one writer for having a pecuniary bias, he attacks us all.  I commented at the News’ site:

If the “Buffalo News” has ever received a dime that’s recorded at the BOE, McCarthy will look foolish. I know for a fact he didn’t contact Chris Smith, who received not a dime from Poloncarz, directly or through, thus rendering this second-hand non-story as lazy as it is full of implied pecuniary bias.

I won’t re-hash what Chris S., Marc, and Chris C. have already wrote. Instead, I direct you to this passage in McCarthy’s column:

But not over at WNY Media Network, where Smith toils. More important to the network, apparently, is the $3,750 Poloncarz paid to WNY Media Network for website design and video editing, according to state campaign finance records. In fact, the same records show WNY Media Network has handled Poloncarz’s video campaign for years.

Some local bloggers receive money from politicians. The Politics Column does not — and that says it all.

The implication is that Chris had a pecuniary interest to write about how lazy Bob McCarthy was in his reporting on the Poloncarz campaign, and that, but for the kingly ransom of $3,750, Smith would not have gone after McCarthy for his “Stefan wrote it for me” he said/she said regurgitation of Collins’ talking points.

The “Buffalo News” has been on the receiving end of $193,981.38 of various and sundry campaign expenditures between 2000 – 2011.  Another $64,289.02 was paid to “The Buffalo News”, leaving a grand total of $258,270.40.

By McCarthy’s own clumsy accusation, each time he wrote about any of the candidates who spent money to advertise with the Buffalo News; e.g., Sam Hoyt, Robin Schimminger, George Maziarz, etc., he should have disclosed the pecuniary bias he had in doing so.  Advertising bucks paid to the Buffalo News keeps Bob McCarthy in repurposed Century 21 blazers, whereas I never saw a penny of Poloncarz’s website & video payments to Marc Odien.

To be clear – I am not accusing Bob McCarthy of being on the take. There are two local websites who compete for dollars from candidates, and make promises about editorial direction that are dependent on those dollars (or lack thereof). Neither nor the Buffalo News are among those websites. To suggest that we are just like them is false and defamatory; to suggest that we are just like them without taking the time to check your facts, if you’re the sole paper’s sole political reporter/columnist, is a lazy dereliction of duty.

Bob McCarthy isn’t some blogger who writes tens of thousands of words’ worth of content for free. He is a well-paid newspaper journalist. People know we have a bias, and they read our content with that understanding. On the other hand, people assume that what Bob McCarthy runs with in the paper is fed to him by insiders, and that he then checks his facts.

In this instance, ran with the “Poloncarz paid” charge, and Bob McCarthy checked the BOE website and ran the story in the paper. Usually, I would agree that McCarthy wouldn’t have to double-check whether  got the money he says we did. It’s right there in the disclosure. But when he concludes with “Some local bloggers receive money from politicians” that’s something he should have checked with Chris about, first.

I’m not a supporter of Democrats and Democratic politics because someone paid me to be, but because I think that the Republicans, their policies, and their ideology are largely wrong.

Do I think Bob McCarthy or his ingeniously named “The Politics Column” is being paid by campaigns to slant his coverage? No.

Do I think Bob McCarthy is lazy, and will print whatever his handful of sources hand him on a silver platter? Hell, it’s not even that hard to figure out who his sources are. For all I know, he’s got on speed-dial.

I’ve had a handful of dealings with Bob in my time here. Interestingly, he never deigned to interview me when I ran for office, leaving that to Steve Watson, who was covering online goings-on. We’ve slammed him for laziness before. When Mark Grisanti voted for same-sex marriage, we were interested in how he came to change his vote. Bob McCarthy wanted to know about inside baseball “who wins, who loses” party politics.  When current Attorney General Eric Schneiderman appeared at a campaign stop last year with Mark Poloncarz, Bob asked him to comment on some BS story that the partisan New York Post had printed about him. He prints what people give him, but fails to examine whether it’s true, or whether it matters.  Over and over  and over again.

In 2008, the Davis campaign handed to Bob McCarthy a completely false story that then-congressional candidate Jon Powers had run his charity into the ground, and that he got arrested for cursing at a police officer in Ohio. McCarthy’s willingness to be a transcription service for campaigns who would give him something to write about became quite evident, and colors many people’s perception of him to this day.

We’ve even specifically discussed in the past, charges that the Buffalo News’ most mustachioed political reporter might be on the take. (We don’t think he is).

Hell, he gets invited to big-ticket Republican confabs and just uncritically transcribes what attendees tell him.

I’ve even established a law of local politics. It’s called Powers’ Law:

If you’re a political candidate, and you get a call from the Buffalo News’ Bob McCarthy, and he informs you that he’s going to run a story the next day that accuses you of horrible moral turpitude (e.g., you stole money from Iraqi orphans or you’re a racist), you absolutely cannot issue a limp rebuttal and pretend like it will all just blow over.

You have to address the allegation head on, strongly, to take control of the narrative as soon as possible, otherwise your silence/tepid response will be interpreted as a concession of the accusation’s truth.

Political columnists throughout New York State have must-read blogs – Jimmy VielkindLiz BenjaminAzi PaybarahCeleste Katz, to name a few. They hustle for stories, they use social media effectively, they have good sources, they vet the information they receive, and with good humor, they compete with each other for scoops.

On the other hand, Bob McCarthy is a walking metaphor for everything that’s wrong with the Buffalo News.

19 Responses to “Bob McCarthy’s Sleep Number is “Laurels””

  1. Carmen Bartolotta August 8, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    And that says it all.

  2. Ben August 8, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    That Poloncarz article also has one of my favorite lazy passive-voice writer tricks.

    “While Poloncarz dismissed the charges by pointing out he correctly listed the contributions in accordance with election law, he also found himself defending a $28,000 in-kind contribution from James Parris of Paper Tiger Films in Los Angeles.”

    Oh did he? He found himself defending this contribution? Where did he find himself doing this, other than on the other end of a telephone conversation with Bob McCarthy? To ask the question is to answer it.

    I suppose the proper phrasing — “he also was forced to defend himself from spurious claims forwarded by a hack reporter” — wouldn’t have got past the copy desk.

  3. Jesse August 8, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    See, the fun part is that more people still read the News than this site (unfortunately), and now the well’s poisoned regardless of the fact you guys have written 15x as many words in this ‘battle’.

  4. BuffaloGirl August 8, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    He’s jealous, he’s jealous because you are much smarter and a better writer/reporter then he will ever be and he knows it, so he lashes out. He’s just a little boy whining.

  5. wolfpack August 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    Bob McCarthy is lazy and that whole article was cheap and useless claptrap. So the big powerful NEWS is worried about the bloggers? I think you generate good dialogue on issues and watch the truthfulness.  I think Artvoice does a courageous job of reporting accurately.  Just like Illuzzi, McCarthy is less and less on top of things.  He is in semi-retirement and the NEWS lays off some good reporters.

  6. Ward August 8, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    I re-read this piece three times, and failed to see either a frank admission or a denial that Poloncarz has paid WNYMedia for campaign services. A little more clarity would keep us from having to speculate why Buffalo Pundit seems to be carrying Poloncarz’s water at every possible opportunity, and slamming his opponent almost daily.

    • Alan Bedenko August 8, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

      Maybe you should read what Chris & Marc wrote. I specifically said I wouldn’t re-hash what they wrote.

  7. Mr. F.N. Magoo August 8, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    Like I’ve said before, just wait long enough and all on his own, Ward will make himself look like a doofus.

  8. Tom Beecher August 8, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    @Ward : 

    If you read Mr. Odien’s post on the matter, it’s very clear who was paid for what, and who was not paid. Mr. Smith’s post also includes a handy graphic to simplify things even further. 

    This issue is neither controversial nor complicated. Others are trying to make it just that. 

  9. Nice Shiner August 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    $3700 bucks — ha ha ha. Compared to the money the GOP spends it’s just silly. Why not go after all peeps who donate over $5000 and find out what they hope to get with their “free speech.”
    BM obviously supports the GOP with his writing. Like you say, probably not for direct payments but for the love if it.
    The real kicker is that he probably gets paid big bucks for a product that is so lame. Investigate something; look alive BM!
    When you compare him to the productivity of someone like a Liz Benjamin you really realize how unproductive BM is.
    I stopped reading the Buffalo News because it isn’t worth the cost. They have no passion for the job anymore. Maybe their management is demotivating — not sure.

  10. Tom Dolina August 8, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    Actually, Shiner, I just had a very productive BM. Must be the fiber supplement I can now afford with the sweet WNYMedia payola!

  11. Tom Dolina August 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    I should also point out that Alan does receive a nickel every time someone creates a bogus twitter account of him, so that’s like $9000 dollars right there…

  12. Hank August 8, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    “People know we have a bias” Well, at least none of you purport to be “Journalists”. Blogger? sure. Online writer? OK. Journalists aren’t supposed to have bias, whether they work for a newspaper and get paid, or write online articles at no charge to anyone.

    I could give a crap who Marc P paid and for what. At least if he paid either Chris or Mark, he got something in return. That’s just business, or even Consumerism if you will—they offer a service, which Poloncarz gave them money for, and he got the service. Why did McCarthy write this tripe, and why has gone apoplectic over it?

  13. Hank August 8, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    OOPS—-Marc’s mini-bio says he’s worked as a “photojournalist”—true, but doesn’t say anything about Print Journalism….

    Until I got to “through advocacy journalism” Well, advocacy journalism is another way of saying writing with a bias, which is the antithesis of Journalism…. Just for Chris, that’s like saying 2 million Jews were “Evacuated” to Southwestern Poland during WW2. They’re still there too, if you count ashes……..

  14. Kevin J. August 8, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    Hank, as a former journalist and current freelance writer, that last sentence is one of the most insulting and fucking stupid statements I’ve read by you. Good work.

  15. Jaquandor August 8, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    Well, we can now add “journalism” to the list of subjects Hank pontificates about without knowing the first damned thing about it. I look forward to reading Hank’s treatise on the removal of brain tumors!

  16. al l August 9, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    Why “Laurels” isnt a number at all!   

  17. Slim Shady August 9, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    I don’t think all those goofs at the New of the World in the UK were getting paid off by the politicians directly but they sure do like feeling like they’re in the club.

    More directly though, the News depends upon the local business community for ads. These ad buyers are conservatives and threaten to pull their ad dollars if the News is not favorable to them and their causes. So The News editorializes that it wants a GOP lead Senate and other GOP goals. They’re also more subtle in the way they repeat stories and/or have them show up on page one or page eight. They loved the Paladino before he imploded and it became obvious that he flew too close to the sun.

    By golly, BM does look like a 1970’s porn star. I bet his back is all hairy too


  1. Paladino, Higgins, and McCarthy | Artvoice Daily - March 4, 2013

    […] a question – at any point do you think that the Buffalo News’ Bob McCarthy contacted Chris Smith, Marc Odien, or me to ask us to confirm or deny whether we received the […]

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