If you are looking for examples of unprofessional “journalism” you could conduct a clinic on the hit piece that the Republic’s Rob O’Dell just published about Senator Jeff Dial. Here are three examples of unprofessional tricks that O’Dell uses to take on Dial.
Self Debunking Innuendo:
O’Dell wants you to think that Dial lied about or otherwise exaggerated his record. That’s why he gives us this ominous first sentence:
State Sen. Jeff Dial touted his military service during successful campaigns…
O’Dell adds this: Gov. Jan Brewer endorsed him as a “veteran of the Armed Forces.” And he serves on the Legislature’s veterans caucus
OK. This looks serious. Dial has claimed he is a veteran. Governor Brewer referred to him as a veteran and he attends the legislature’s “Veteran Caucus.”
Now here’s the incredible part. At the bottom of the story, O’Dell concedes that Dial IS a veteran. The implication that what Dial and Brewer said is somehow inaccurate is just something that O’Dell made up.
The Passive Voice Trick:
O’Dell doesn’t have a source for the story. It is O’Dell who is questioning Dial’s service. That’s why the story is full of references like this one:
State Sen. Jeff Dial campaigned as a military veteran but now his record is being questioned
O’Dell doesn’t even have an anonymous source. O’Dell IS the source. No one is actually questioning Dial’s service—except O’Dell.
The editors compound this mistake when they add subheads like the one I listed above. Take a look at it again.
State Sen. Jeff Dial campaigned as a military veteran but now his record is being questioned.
O’Dell and the editor combine these to phrases to make it looks like Dial claimed to be a veteran but now people are question whether he told the truth. That implication is simply a lie. O’Dell admits that Dial is a veteran and the only one asking questions is O’Dell.
Here’s the part that’s truly outrageous. While O’Dell is implying that Dial exaggerated his record, if you read closely, O’Dell is actually questioning the quality of Dial’s service. O’Dell admits that Dial enlisted, went through Basic Training, and was active for four years. Dial had a problem with is weight and was no longer able to keep up the physical routine and was placed in the reserve for four additional years and then was honorably discharged. O’Dell is claiming that this is not adequate service.
Seriously? How many Americans make this type of commitment? How many even enlist? How many Americans can stay in good enough physical shape to remain on active duty? Frankly, O’Dell is mocking Dial for being overweight. Let that sink in a moment. Dial eventually couldn’t keep up with his unit and that’s what this article is about. Now take a look at the AzCentral clip and ask yourself how long it would take Rob O’Dell to run a mile? I don’t know, maybe O’Dell is one of the 1% who signed up. Maybe he’s an ex Marine. Maybe O’Dell is a marathon runner disguised by a couple thousand Crispy Cremes.
Or maybe O’Dell is mocking Dial for making a commitment that O’Dell himself would never make. Maybe he is mocking Dial for not maintaining a physical form that O’Dell himself long ago failed to achieve.
Maybe O’Dell is just a deeply bitter and cynical guy who mocks someone who is actually in the arena, someone who actually enlisted and served and was discharged honorably.
Something that O’Dell never did and could never hope to do.