A tried and true method of deflecting attention from something those in power don’t want seen is to create diversions, to shift the focus from the real issues to attacking or discrediting its source, to get people gossiping about something other than the real issue.
Enter Jim Nintzel, Tucson Local Media editor and author of the Tucson Weekly’s “The Skinny.” On July 6, a day after the Weekly was published, Nintzel added an online hit piece, citing “county sources,” that Arizona
Daily Independent editor Loretta Hunnicutt would be working part-time in Supervisor Ally Miller’s office.
Nintzel alleged that ADI cleared its stories with Miller, citing a two-year-old Tucson Sentinel article, with an online link. That article, however, failed to make Nintzel’s case, citing only an instance where ADI asked Miller’s office if reports of their filing an FBI report were accurate. Journalism 101.
With his sloppy reporting challenged in the Weekly’s online comments section, Nintzel revised his story for the July 12 edition – so that it appeared the same day as the county administrator sent the months-old World View balloon explosion report to the Board of Supervisors.
Missing from both versions, however, is any mention that Ms Hunnicutt’s husband, ADI founder and co-editor John Hunnicutt, had suddenly died just three weeks earlier. Bullying a newly bereaved widow sets a new low for both the Tucson Weekly and those unnamed “county sources.”
Emails obtained by ADI in recent years show that Nintzel and other members of the local media – some of whom later went on to county jobs – were regularly contacted by Pima County staff as to methods of making Supervisor Ally Miller look bad, illegally trying to influence her election. Huckelberry’s and Nintzel’s hatred of Miller is no secret.
The attacks on Lori Hunnicutt, however, go beyond even Pima County’s corrupt crony politics. Jim Nintzel, Tucson Local Media, and those conveniently anonymous “county sources” ought to be ashamed of themselves. The Board of Supervisors needs to root out those “county sources” and hold them accountable. The community might consider other sources of information than the Tucson Local Media free papers and leave them in their racks to rot.
The Weekly, to date, has never mentioned the December World View balloon explosion, which broke ceiling tiles in Raytheon’s missile facility, while they have extolled the joys of sending a KFC sandwich to the edge of space. They seem to champion the things the county administrator wants championed, and to do the county administrator’s dirty work trying to discredit the Arizona Daily Independent, its newly-widowed editor, and Supervisor Ally Miller – the only voice on the Board of Supervisors demanding transparency and accountability.
Hacks and bullies and diversions work only when there is not a countervailing force working to set the record straight. That is one of the roles of a news source like the Arizona Daily Independent. It is a reminder that the “Fourth Estate” plays a vital role in protecting American democracy.