by David Safier
Thelma Grimes, managing editor of The Explorer, thinks it's a reporter's job to ask candidates tough questions and it's the candidate's responsibility to answer them. According to her editorial, KGUN asked Jesse Kelly a tough question, and Kelly, to his discredit, wimped out, over and over and over.
[Full Disclosure: I write a monthly column for the Explorer from the left and another columnist writes one from the right.]
Grimes goes after Kelly and his campaign for repeatedly dodging the question put to him by a KGUN reporter about an endorsement he received in 2010 and 2012 from ALIPAC, an anti-immigration organization. In 2010, when ALIPAC endorsed John McCain's opponent J.D. Hayworth, McCain referred to it as "a group that the Anti-Defamation League reports is backed by white supremacists, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites." Kelly and his campaign manager John Ellingwood thought the ALIPAC endorsement issue was too hot to handle and ducked KGUN's question. The first time it was asked, Ellingwood yelled at the reporter and refused to let Kelly answer. In a later interview, Kelly gave the same non-responsive answer over and over with a smirk on his face, like he thought he was being cute.
Grimes refers to it as lack of respect.
Then, there’s the complete lack of respect for a reporter doing her job, and a reporter doing his job at the debate. To be clear, a journalist asking a hard question doesn’t automatically mean they are liberal and is pushing some agenda. The bottom line is this, journalists are supposed to ask the hard questions, they are supposed to see where the candidate stands on issues, they should be asking if a candidate accepts and wants an endorsement from a less than admirable organization.
Though Grimes doesn't mention it, stiffing the press is standard operating procedure for the Kelly campaign. Kelly refuses to sit down for long interviews with reporters, because he knows his talking points fall apart under questioning. He's got his 30 second answers down pat so long as there's no follow up.
Being a reporter herself, Grimes wanted to find out what would happen if The Explorer asked the Kelly campaign about the ALIPAC endorsement. Her paper encountered the same stone wall.
To see if it is just KGUN 9 News that gets the disrespectful treatment from the Kelly campaign, The Explorer also asked his campaign manager, John Ellinwood, about the ALIPAC endorsement. Instead of a simple yes or no to the question, Ellinwood said, “Our campaign is one of 140 Congressional campaigns they have endorsed this year, both Republican and Democrat.”
Again, The Explorer stressed that is not an answer to the question posed, and asked again in multiple emails. It didn’t happen. Instead, Ellinwood said the same statement over and over again.
I get the sense Jesse Kelly is hanging on by his fingernails right now, hoping he hasn't completely lost the respect of people who haven't yet cast their ballots. He must know, the more he says and the more people hear, the less likely they are to vote for him.