Tag Archives: Rep. Chris Lee

Buffalo News Peddles Rumors About Chris Lee

12 Feb

Since our inception in 2004, we have received several public and private admonishments from writers and editors at The Buffalo News about the way we report and opine on the news of the day.  The undercurrent of all those critiques has been that they were “responsible” journalists who did not traffic in rumors, innuendo, or off-the-record allegations.  Implying, of course, that WNYMedia and other online outlets were irresponsible and amateurish. The tongue clicking and “tsk-tsks” which have emanated from One News Plaza over the years have entertained us.

Today, we return the favor.

In this morning’s edition, Jerry Zremski and Steve Watson wrote what is essentially a hit piece on Former Rep. Chris Lee (R, Chippenfail).  It reads like a “story” one would find on the execrable Joe Illuzzi’s website, or in a cheap tabloid.

About halfway into the article titled “Alleged womanizing by Lee has a history”, Zremski writes,

No concrete evidence has surfaced that Lee, a Republican from Amherst, has cheated on his wife, Michele, with whom he has a young son.

However, that did not stop the writers from giving us a full story of unconfirmed and unsubstantiated rumors about the man.

And funny pictures...

WNYMedia has a reputation as a left-leaning website known for taking on Republican politicians and public figures, but we simply do not publish personal rumors or blind items on this website.  If we did, dozens of local politicos (Democrat and Republican alike) would be reading the things we hear about their personal lives.

We only publish stories if someone is willing to go on the record or we have two direct sources confirming the story, not some collected hearsay curated from various media sources.  Furthermore, we’d only do so if it’s remotely newsworthy – that we’ve engaged in an analysis where we’ve balanced the likely harm that might come from publicizing the information versus the public’s right to know, and how relevant the information is to something of public – not just prurient – interest.

Not one name is mentioned. Not one concrete allegation is made, or verified.  At least the New York Post’s article got a little specific. In fact, this spoof website is a nice interpretation of Zremski’s article.

It is clear through reading Zremski’s meta-story about the various allegations other media outlets have alluded to, that neither he nor Watson have direct sources on Lee’s personal proclivities.  Rather than drumming up the story themselves with some feet-on-street reporting, this article serves as a “Help Wanted” piece soliciting locals to share their stories about Lee banging cocktail waitresses and hairdressers, which can then be reported on the record.  It rehashes off-the-record rumor and unsubstantiated hearsay from a long-ago failed candidate’s oppo research.

If we had published something about Chris Lee similar to what the Buffalo News put out on the newsstands, we’d be rightly pilloried as smut-peddling internet hacks, and the pro journos at the News would look down their collective nose at us as being further evidence of how untrustworthy those online outlets like WNYMedia.net or Gawker are.

Yet, the two biggest political scandals of the past twelve months involving local politicians – Carl Paladino’s and Chris Lee’s weird emailing proclivities – were broken by those very online outlets.

What the News did today was cheap, lazy journalism – a backhanded attempt to solicit a scoop – and Margaret Sullivan should be embarrassed that it was published by her newspaper.