By Scott Tibbs, January 14, 2013
When you are writing a news article, you should get both sides of the story. Ideally, you should get a statement from the primary person on both sides - especially a state senator who has proposed controversial legislation. Why is this so difficult for the Bloomington Herald-Times to understand? Or is it more likely that the H-T simply does not care about getting both sides of the story and would prefer to publish agenda pieces?
When state senator Jim Banks introduced Senate Bill 97 to allow students to allow students to carry firearms on campus, it was expected that university administrators would oppose the bill. So it was reasonable for a reporter for Indiana University's hometown newspaper to contact an IU spokesman for the university's views on the issue. H-T "reporter" Mike Leonard did that for his article on the bill, but Sen. Banks confirmed via e-mail on January 11 that Leonard did not contact him about the issue.
Here is some important context. Sen. Banks is an Indiana University alumnus with a B.A. in political science. He is a former president of the IU College Republicans and lived in Bloomington in the early 2000's -so he has a local connection to Bloomington. He has his phone number on his campaign website and there is more contact information on his state legislative website. So what exactly was so difficult about contacting Sen. Banks to get a statement from him on the issue?
The answer is very simple. Mike Leonard had no interest in presenting a balanced article or getting Sen. Banks' perspective.
This is not new. Last April, Leonard published a front-page smear article on Christian pastor Doug Wilson and the outrage over the fact that he was coming to campus to speak to ClearNote Campus Fellowship. Leonard smeared Wilson as a white supremacist advocate of slavery, but did not bother doing the one thing that a reporter at any reputable newspaper would do - actually contact Pastor Wilson to get a statement from him on his views, his writings and his upcoming speech.
Race-baiting, of course, is par for the course for Leonard. Back in 2010, he spewed a vile smear that 20-something members of Young Americans for Liberty were "the same people who opposed civil rights in the 1960s" (which is mathematically impossible) and said they were mice "trying to become rats." He fabricated a vote that never took place in 2006 to smear Congressman Mike Sodrel and loved to call Congressman John Hostettler a "Dim Bulb."
So the question is obvious - with Leonard's long history of questionable ethics and shameless political bias, why is he permitted to write straight news articles about politically controversial legislation, especially as gun control is a highly partisan issue right now? There is not a reputable newspaper in the country that would allow this to be printed on their front page from such a highly biased and agenda-driven so-called "reporter." But the Herald-Times is not a "newspaper" at all. It is a partisan political newsletter.