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    Independent panel: Seattle Times unfair to psychologist

    A panel of media experts and public citizens ruled the Times unfairly portrayed a forensic psychologist in a series last winter.

    Dr. Richard Wollert presents his case to a Washington News Council hearing board on June 1, 2013, at Seattle's Town Hall.

    Dr. Richard Wollert presents his case to a Washington News Council hearing board on June 1, 2013, at Seattle's Town Hall. Photo: Judy Lightfoot

    Sources quoted in a Seattle Times series called him an “outlier,” a pusher of self-invented theories and methods that “are not sound science.” Another said his written reports were “mumbo-jumbo.” Overall, forensic psychologist Dr. Richard Wollert, frequently hired as an expert witness for the defense in determining whether a sexual predator who has served his prison sentence must serve additional time in the state’s civil commitment facility, was presented as making a mint at the public trough through excessively high fees. This was in a Seattle Times series last winter that investigated the exorbitant costs of Washington's sexual predator civil commitment program.

    In “The Price of Protection,” the Times' multimedia series, investigative reporter Christine Willmsen herself described Wollert as working in "unorthodox" ways and highlighted his having made $1.2 million in a two-year period of providing expert defense in this and other states. She included no favorable comments about Wollert.

    In late March of this year, Wollert filed a formal complaint against the Times with the Washington News Council (WNC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to holding Washington state newspapers and other media outlets accountable by measuring their work against high journalistic standards of ethics and fairness.

    On Saturday, his case was aired in a public WNC hearing at Town Hall, before a board of twelve WNC-appointed media members and public members, who had read his exhaustively detailed complaint beforehand. Among other things the psychologist argued that Willmsen should have sought comments from people who were not sexual offender prosecutors, not forensic psychologists for the prosecution and not competitors with him in forensic psychology research.

    Two written responses from the Times were read: one from executive editor and senior vice president David Boardman and one from investigative editor James Neff. Taken together, the letters argued that all facts in the series were public information and statements of public opinions, both of which are protected by the First Amendment. All facts, they continued, were accurate except one, for which the Times had already made a public correction. The letters noted the many hours the Times had spent talking with Wollert about his concerns and poring over documentation.

    At the end of the hearing, the board voted on twelve questions about the ethics of the Times' coverage.

    Six of the ten voting members (WNC President John Hamer and the chair recused themselves) voted that the Times series did not "portray Dr. Wollert, including his academic background, research history, scientific methodologies and past testimony, in an accurate, fair, complete and balanced way." Four voted that the Times had lived up to these standards. 

    The votes on six of the remaining questions were in favor of Wollert, three yielded split votes and the votes in two favored The Times. Averaging the votes on all twelve questions, about 58 percent of the panel supported Wollert’s contentions, even though several  members agreed that he “had cut himself off at the knees” (in the words of one panelist) when he thrice refused Willmsen's invitations to be interviewed.

    The goal of such hearings, said Hamer, is to educate the public about the media. This was WNC’s seventh public hearing since the organization’s founding 15 years ago. Most time Saturday was spent clarifying very complicated facts about Wollert’s background and history, but there was also discussion about how news reports differ from investigations and advocacy journalism, and the role an initial hypothesis might play in an investigative reporter’s process.

    Panelists also may have cleared up stray public misunderstandings about the media when they schooled Wollert about journalistic practice. He should not have declined the reporter's requests for an interview, they said, even if her manner did not communicate the “deference and politeness” Wollert wished. “Investigative reporters are not the most congenial,” noted one.

    Another hearing board member commented on an extensive document Wollert had submitted to the Times, titled "Elements of an Adequate Correction." In the document Wollert requested that the newspaper retract parts of Willmsen’s story, even where statements were based on public sources. He also wanted the paper to print extended descriptions of his worthy professional work and background, and statements of remorse on the part of the paper. The panelist informed him that no newspaper operates or would operate in this way.

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    Posted Mon, Jun 3, 5:46 a.m. Inappropriate

    Thanks very much to Crosscut and Judy Lightfoot for covering the WNC hearing on June 1 and for this thorough and thoughtful story about the event. For those who want to make up their own minds, TVW videotaped (and webcast) the hearing. The video will be aired on TVW soon, as well as posted on both TVW's and the WNC's websites. We strongly urge interested citizens to watch and decide for themselves if our process was fair, even-handed and professional. We also urge people to read The Times' stories and watch their videos, read the complaint and the extensive supporting documents, and vote online at http://wanewscouncil.org/vote/ . It was indeed a complicated and difficult case, and a challenge for WNC Hearing Board members to decide -- as their divided votes reflected. The Crosscut story ends by noting that our Chair, Karen Seinfeld, former Chief Judge of the Washington State Court of Appeals, used some judicial terms and compared the panel to a jury. Well, after all, she's a judge, accustomed to legal terminology. However, the WNC has no legal power and does not seek any. Our decisions carry no sanctions or penalties. We don't want to fine, regulate, censor or punish news media organizations. Our only power is publicity -- just like theirs. We simply want to hold them publicly accountable for their performance and ethics. What's wrong with that? What other media-accountability system anywhere in the world works any better? If you know of one, please let us know. We are always ready to refine and improve our process. For those who want to discuss in person, call our office at 206.262.9793. The WNC is located above the Pyramid Alehouse across from Safeco Field. Come on down and we'll buy you a beer (or root beer) and chat. Meanwhile, please visit our website and vote until June 15 on the questions that our panel considered. We are trying to democratize and crowdsource the concept of media oversight. Why not? What else is working to help maintain public trust and confidence in the news media? Feedback welcome!

    Posted Mon, Jun 3, 6:41 a.m. Inappropriate

    I think it is interesting to note that, while the Seattle Times criticized Dr. Wollert for refusing to interview with the reporter, they themselves refused to show up to this hearing to defend their story and be held accountable to the public. Their counter letter offered no substantive rebuttal to his claims and actually continued the ad hominem attack.

    From the materials Dr. Wollert submitted, was evidence that the reporter had positive information about Dr. Wollert's research and character, but failed to publish that. Including it would have balanced the negative opinion of the state's prosecutors and witness, all of whom make their living on the opposite side of this complicated legal process.

    The story also failed to reveal prosecution witness costs.

    The "big picture" issue that extends way beyond Dr. Wollert's case? It appears that The Seattle Times colluded with the state to publish misinformation about the entire SVP process. Doing so may have tainted future jury pools, threatening justice in future SVP proceedings.

    When we erode the Constitutional protections for a certain class of persons (sex offenders who have served their time and face lifetime commitment for fears of what they MIGHT do), we erode them for us all.

    Excellent work, WNC.


    Posted Mon, Jun 3, 7:43 a.m. Inappropriate

    I think the process went well.

    What continues to be overlooked is the fact the original story blamed the high level of SVP litigation onto the Defense experts who evaluate sex offenders. This is a limited and deceptive stance.

    The Price of Protection was not about expenses. It was about advocating the prosecution's view. Not conincidently this piece was published during the last stages of the State legislature devleoping price controls for the SVP process.

    While Dr. Wollert earned a good living with his advanced skills, his income pales to some State expert incomes. The "cap" now in place is for Defense experts, not Prosecution experts. The Price of Protection was not investigative journalism, but one of advocacy.


    Posted Mon, Jun 3, 11:01 a.m. Inappropriate

    If Dr. Wollert is a hack raking in the taxpayer's money because he'll say whatever defense attorneys tell him to say, then so are all the hacks who provide exactly the same services for prosecutors. The same experts are hired over and over again by the prosecutors because the prosecutors know they'll write a report favorable to their goals - regardless of the evidence.

    Here's a short list of names of experts who routinely make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year from the taxpayers because they are reliable witnesses for prosecutors.

    The Times can immediately commence the investigation of the following experts who receive hundreds of thousands of dollars per year through the generosity of prosecutors across Washington State:

    Dale Arnold, Ph.D.
    Harry Goldberg, Ph.D.
    Harry Hoberman, Ph.D.
    Matthew Logan, Ph.D.
    Kathleen Longwell, Ph.D.
    Amy Phenix, Ph.D.
    Douglas Tucker, Ph.D.

    Posted Mon, Jun 3, 11:42 a.m. Inappropriate

    Dr. Wollert did an admirable job acquitting himself of the accusations against him in the Seattle Times, showing that the report was simply a mouthpiece for the prosecution. The state is paying prosecution experts much more money based on junk science to make inaccurate "predictions" about the future. A real journalist would have done some research and looked at the base rates. Sex offender recidivism rates are low, so it takes a great deal of evidence to predict that an offender is likely to reoffend. Rarely can an expert accurately predict that a man is likely to commit a sex offense in the future, and Dr. Wollert's careful, scientifically based practices speak to this. Want to save taxpayers money? Base policy on real science. And make Dr. Wollert the chair of the panel.


    Posted Mon, Jun 3, 12:09 p.m. Inappropriate

    Dr. Wollert did an excellent job in presenting his case. I admire him for what he is doing; someone needs to hold the press accountable. I would have liked to see information about how much the state experts are paid; this wasn't discussed in the hearing. The main costs in SVP cases are not the defense experts but the court costs, state experts, and the greatly increased expense of civilly committing someone when their sentence is up as opposed to giving them longer sentences in the first place. Also, I was surprised that some members of the panel failed to immediately understand why Dr. Wollert didn't talk to the reporter. These are news people; they should have realized that a reporter with an agenda sets traps and then will take answers out of context.I have years of experience with reporters in controversial issues and know how this happens. 5catslady


    Posted Mon, Jun 3, 12:36 p.m. Inappropriate

    It is too rare in today's world to see an accomplished professional such as Dr. Richard Wollert take on the media which mis-characterized both his professional work and his personal reputation, and WIN! As several of the Council members pointed out during the proceedings, this is a complex case. A news reporter with an agenda can lay waste to both scientific integrity and the truth in general. Dr. Wollert took appropriate action to right this wrong. The majority of the reporter's peers found that Dr. Wollert was unfairly attacked and otherwise portrayed in the Times article. How can the public gain from tabloid journalism? The fact of the matter is that Dr. Wollert is a consummate professional, and beyond that a good man. The State of Washington spends money on both sides of every SVP case, on the whole more on the prosecution and their experts. The article was entirely remiss and biased in not pointing out this fact. Within the last two years, for example, one expert working for the state billed over $100,000 dollars. And Dr. Wollert is the one who is the guilty party here? If a state wants to have civil commitment laws then it must bear the financial burden of doing so, plain and simple. Both the state and the respondent should be able to have excellent legal and professional experts so that judges and juries can make the best decisions possible in these difficult cases. The Pacific Northwest is fortunate to have someone of Dr. Wollert's credentials and research accomplishments. Hopefully the Seattle Times will learn a lesson given the outcome of the Council's votes last Saturday. Dr. Wollert has been given some justice, at least, in this long and difficult process.


    Posted Mon, Jun 3, 12:46 p.m. Inappropriate

    I admire Crosscut and Judy Lightfoot for insightful coverage of this issue. It is far bigger than merely criticism of one expert witness; seems that it covers a wide range or journalistic ethics problems. Crosscut seems to have a good grasp on that.

    I am a forensic psychologist, but I don't have a stake here; I am a hard-headed empiricist. If there is scientific evidence, I am likely to go with something. Otherwise, forget it. I have pretty well got out of doing evaluations for 'sexually violent predators' because the entire field, on the prosecution side, is populated by a lack of scientific principles, a lack of ethical practice of psychology, and a bizarre willingness to adjust laws to fit the desires of the prosecutors. Here in Iowa, in the first such case, the prosecutor said, in court, that the committed inmate would be housed in a building "completely separate from the rest of the prison," that the inmate would never be in the company of "regular inmates." No such building existed; still does not, more than a decade later.

    And both the prosecution and defense sides tend to get caught up on what seem to me to be irrelevant arguments about statistical arcania.

    The real money is made by prosecution "experts," most of whom were working in humdrum, back wards jobs until they found this gold mine. Several of them have made millions of dollars in this field. The prosecutors have no limits on what they can spend, but defense attorneys do. The public does not realize this. For example, in a relatively unimportant case, the prosecutors flew their expert, someone with no scientific reputation, no clinical expertise, in a chartered airplane and kept the pilot and plane there overnight. It would have been a much less expensive 5-hour drive for the state's witness to make. In contrast, working for defense in a more important case I had to drive 2 days each way, for pretty low pay.

    As others have pointed out, the state witnesses virtually always side with the prosecutor's claims. They are used by prosecutors over and over. Defense witnesses have to demonstrate lack of unfair bias. I, for example, have only 26% of my evaluations used by the defense, because the other 74% are not favorable to the defense.

    In the present matter, the Seattle Times hung their hat on Dr. Wollert's declining what was obviously going to be a hostile interview. Shame on the Committee members who criticized him for that, but let pass a refusal by the Seattle Times to attend the hearing merely because they didn't know who might be on the panel.


    Posted Mon, Jun 3, 3:22 p.m. Inappropriate

    As a member of the Hearing Committee, I want to thank my fellow volunteer members and the audience for taking the time out to address this challenging case. The Seattle Times ought to be applauded for putting forward the scarce resources to bring these tough issues with the state's civil commitment program to light. Without the paper's willingness to run the series, it's likely we wouldn't be having this discussion today.

    The Hearing Committee was focused on some very specific criteria regarding the Times' treatment of Dr. Wollert. In attempting to make some critical points, the Times may have wanted to put an actual face to the bigger problems of oversight of the program - that face being Dr. Wollert's. However, as a testifying expert in these cases, Dr. Wollert's role is limited. He certainly did not create these rules and he isn't in a position to fix the problems. He was asked and was paid to provide his expert scientific opinion in the proceedings. From the evidence, we found his credentials and expertise to be valid.

    In citing the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics when declaring the Seattle Times would not participate in the hearing, Mr. Boardman might have considered additional sections of it himself, namely:

    - Minimize harm: ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect. Journalists should recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort.

    - Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other. Journalists should clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct. Encourage the public to voice grievances againt the news media. Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

    In the end, I felt their treatment of Dr. Wollert detracted from the story. It was not a fatal mistake, and on the whole the series was an extremely important piece of journalism. However, they have gone too far in characterizing Dr. Wollert as a symbol of the greater problems of the system. It was unfair to him and to the readers.


    Posted Mon, Jun 3, 5:04 p.m. Inappropriate

    The guy refused the interview to tell his side of the story on record. The Settle Times did nothing wrong.


    Posted Mon, Jun 3, 5:17 p.m. Inappropriate

    Then I look at the hearing board members and I find, not journalists, but the senior vice-president of Hill and Knowlton, the president of Adrenaline Consulting, the president of Clear Channel Outdoor (Clear Channel? Really? We are supposed to give credence to some person from Clear Channel? Not me.), the corporate vice president of the Frause Group, the executive director of the Washington Clean Energy Alliance, and the Communications Director (PR Shill) for the WA Dairy Products Association. The Chair is not a journalist, but a former judge, I think a former judge is appropriate to have on the board.

    So, at least six of the board members were not journalists, or even work in journalism. The board was packed with consultants, PR shills, and lobbyists; not journalists. It is no surprise to me that consultants, PR shills, and lobbyists would take the side of a fellow consultant, who is feeding at the public trough.


    Posted Mon, Jun 3, 6:24 p.m. Inappropriate

    This is off-topic; but, then so are the comments about the so-called "expert psychologists" used by the prosecution; the ability of both the prosecution and defense to pay psychiatrists to be expert witnesses in a proceeding, and their ability to find a psychiatrist who will support their side, indicates that psychiatry is not a science, and there are really no "experts" in psychiatry.

    This defense expert witness is reported to have made 1.5 million dollars in a short period of time being a paid defense witness. Commenters here report the prosecution expert witnesses get paid even more. So, these witnesses are part of the same "science", yet two of them will testify in support of opposite sides of a proceeding (as long as they get paid). That is no science. The psychiatrist in question has done nothing to deserve the compensation he has received.


    Posted Mon, Jun 3, 8:30 p.m. Inappropriate

    "In late March of this year, Wollert filed a formal complaint against the Times with the Washington News Council (WNC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to holding Washington state newspapers and other media outlets accountable by measuring their work against high journalistic standards of ethics and fairness."

    I'm sorry I guess I missed exactly what those "high journalistic standards of ethics" are and how they are measured. Not that that would get in the way of higher ratings or a Pulitzer. The media in most forms treat ethics as they would a pimple and the only fairness they adhere to is; mirror mirror on the wall whom shall we say is the fairest of all. I call it maim stream media.

    I could care less about how the good doctor was treated by the Times, pox on both sides in this suit. May all their children be born hairless and their legs grown together. Consultants (expert witnesses) are highly paid to testify (read smoke and mirrors) in support of the side that offered them heaps of cash. Of course the other side has it's own liar with a hefty payoff and this one offers up a different brand of smoke and mirrors.

    No wonder the justice system sucks for poor folks, they get the shaft while pretty white women draw money and media like flies to honey. The caliber of expert witness for a non-celebrity person of color are drawn, it seems, from the ranks of the unemployed. Pretty white women get nationally known liars in the needed field. It happens often enough that most Americans believe poor people of color are with few exceptions intent on criminal behavior and police practices re-inforces that idea.

    My warped sense of all this; the consultants that get paid the most, respond with more multi-syllabale words when on the stand, and the media is in hot pursuit of higher ratings and collecting a Pulitzer for the fireplace mantle. For both sides justice is an after thought.


    Posted Tue, Jun 4, 5:58 a.m. Inappropriate

    I attended the WNC Hearing on Saturday and thought it was impressively organized. It was obvious to me and my friends who accompanied me that many hours of hard work preceded it. With the elimination of newspaper ombudsman positions and the fact that the WNC is the last news council in the US, it deserves the public's financial support.

    I know the Seattle Times tried to discredit its importance and function with their letter, and I have to ask myself: Did the ST's condemnation of this important transparency process impact some of the WNC Hearings panel members' ability to be objective? Was that part of its purpose?

    The reason I ask this can be found in two observations I made. The first is that, while the audience members were voting, two panel members took the opportunity to praise the Seattle Times, one right after the other. Such a public endorsement during a voting process seemed blatantly sycophantic to not only myself, but many others in the room. That was a hot topic amongst the audience members afterward: Should these gentlemen have kept their endorsements to themselves? Were these public endorsements a message to their friends at the ST: "If this vote does not go your way, don't blame us." Or were these endorsements an attempt to influence the voting? Reasonable questions to ask and many audience members did.

    The second observation was more disturbing. While reading Jim Neff's letter to the audience and panel, the judge initially stopped her reading of it short. The audience never would have known that she left out the portion where Mr. Neff threatened Dr. Wollert with a lawsuit if he pursued legal action against The Seattle Times, if not for the fact that someone reminded her to continue. One of the panel members alerted the judge to her error and she immediately self-corrected and read the final portion. The reason she offered for this lapse? "I thought it would save time."

    The WNC Hearing process, I assume, strives to be transparent and that critical omission, from an impartial judge no less, was anything but. Saving time by withholding a portion of a critical letter?

    People are independent humans and their biases will naturally leak out, even on the WNC panel.


    Posted Tue, Jun 4, 4:08 p.m. Inappropriate

    Well, if Wollert tool legal action against the Times; then why shouldn't the Times countersue? That is the problem with this specific instance; it is weighted largely toward Wollert. Why wasn't more made of Wollert refusing the interview to state his case? Don't tell me he was afraid of a hostile interview; not only is that an extremely weak reason, but Wollert has been undergoing interviews by hostile prosecutors to earn money. Wollert deals with hostile interviews from prosecutors, he should be able to deal with a reporter.

    Wollert has gotten his money by being a professional witness, he should be happy with his ill-gotten gains, and shut up.


    Posted Tue, Jun 4, 4:19 p.m. Inappropriate

    The Seattle Times' apology today:

    To The Washington News Council and Dr. Richard Wollert:

    We at The Seattle Times apologize for any misunderstanding we may have created about Dr. Wollert’s status with Washington State University, Vancouver. While the university’s director of communications had told us that the title “Research Professor of Psychology” was inaccurate and that WSU had “no personnel paperwork” for Dr. Wollert, the school has since located records indicating that he has an adjunct, non-teaching affiliation. WSU says a more accurate title for Dr. Wollert would include the word “Adjunct,” but they do not believe he was intentionally misleading. Nor were we. We regret the mistake, as does WSU.


    Posted Tue, Jun 4, 5:02 p.m. Inappropriate

    The brouhaha surrounding the Seattle Times and Dr Wollert has made its way across the Pacific Ocean to Australia. As a forensic psychologist I am very much aware of the stirling research Dr Wollert has published in sexual and violent predator cases. I have cited his work in many of my own publications, with approbation. The picture painted of him by the Seattle Times was nothing short of a travesty. As an example of how biased the article was consider this: no comment was made of the fact that state appointed experts are paid at least as much, and typically more, that those retained by the defendant's counsel or appointed by the courts. The failure of the reporters involved to even turn up at the hearing says a great deal about them-none of it is flattering.

    Professor Ian R. Coyle
    Forensic Psychologist, Human Factors Engineer & Psychopharmacologist
    Professorial Associate, Centre for Law Governance and Public Policy, Faculty of Law, Bond University
    Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Southern Queensland
    Adjunct Professor, School of Psychology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Deakin University
    Accredited Expert in Medico-Legal Psychology, The International Criminal Court, The Hague, The Netherlands
    Distinguished Alumnus, La Trobe University


    Posted Tue, Jun 4, 6:08 p.m. Inappropriate

    Gaia is almost certainly the wife of the psychologist in question. She has made a crusade of this, as the golden goose of her husband's expert-witness business has been threatened.


    Posted Tue, Jun 4, 8:11 p.m. Inappropriate

    Ms. Lightfoot,

    Great report on this fascinating case. Thanks for your coverage. I've linked to it in my blog post reporting on the case from the perspective of forensic psychology:


    Karen Franklin


    Posted Wed, Jun 5, 3:24 p.m. Inappropriate

    The Washington News Council is a joke. It's allegedly dedicated to holding media outlets accountable to some higher standard, but it's really just a sad fraternity for news media wannabes and press pass groupies. Case in point: The so-called news council puts most of its energy and resources into an annual gala dinner for media executives and local politicos. It's billed as a fun night out for the local media power elite -- and the non-journalists who worship them and pine to be part of their inner circle. All the rest is a desperate, attention-seeking by wannabes striving to be seen as players on the local media stage.

    Here's a suggestion: drop the corporate-sponsor-laden local media gridiron dinner. Stop schmoozing with and cow-towing to those you claim to police, then maybe, you might begin to build some credibility.


    Posted Sun, Jun 9, 11:52 a.m. Inappropriate

    Once again, we invite all Crosscut readers -- who are an especially intelligent, informed and thoughtful group (well, most of them) to visit the Washington News Council's website and learn about who we are and what we do. Please open the "Featured News" story on the results of our June 1 hearing. Watch the TVW video, read The Times' stories, review the complaint, and VOTE along with our Hearing Board and live audience on the questions we considered at the three-hour event. Public Ballot is open through June 15.

    This is not for the faint-of-heart. It was a difficult and complicated case, as the Board's public discussion and split votes clearly demonstrated. We are now inviting members of the public all over the world to weigh in online. We call it "crowdsourcing" media-ethics accountability and oversight. After all, news media organizations today are all actively soliciting public input. Here's your opportunity to give it to them. We've already received dozens of votes and thoughtful comments from around the globe. We will tally the votes and post them on our website along with some of the best comments, both pro and con.

    No news council anywhere (and there are dozens of them in other countries; see aipce.net) has ever webcast a complaint hearing (thanks, TVW!) and welcomed citizen participation in this way. It is admittedly an experiment, and certainly no panacea. But what better system to hold news organizations publicly accountable exists anywhere in the world? If you can find one, please let us know. And tell us how our process can be improved, while you're at it. We're open to constructive suggestions and welcome them.

    As for the WNC's 15th annual Gridiron West Dinner "gala": You're all invited! We will "roast and toast" David Horsey and Patti Payne on Nov. 8, 2013, at The Westin Seattle. Tickets/tables available now on our website. Come on down! Be a "groupie, a wannabe, a player"! Come "schmooze and cow-tow" with the "media power elite"! Oops, never mind. The media power elite generally don't come to the Gridiron, even though we invite them every year. Guess they don't want to be part of our "sad fraternity." Those who attend are from the civic, community, academic, nonprofit, corporate, political, arts, sports and other sectors. They all believe in the WNC's mission and want to support our work. See you there? RSVP.

    Posted Tue, Jun 11, 9:13 p.m. Inappropriate

    Points for humor, Hamer, but your gridiron follies are still a colossal incongruity. It's hard to take your right hand seriously when your left hand plays the fool.


    Posted Thu, Jun 13, 5:10 p.m. Inappropriate

    Well, my right hand seldom knows what my left hand is doing. Downright sinister, if you ask me. And our Gridiron "follies" often feature colossal farcicality. Why? Because I write most of the parody song lyrics. Once I actually got Bill Gates to sing "If I Were a Rich Man." Highlight of my so-called career. Come this year: We'll save you a ticket.

    Posted Mon, Jun 10, 9:07 a.m. Inappropriate

    The Seattle Times' fall-back method of defense? Attack the complainant. When that does not work, re-group and attack again.

    Journalists are probably the last professionals on this planet who do not have to answer to a governing body or licensing board. They are supposed to police themselves.

    What happens to persons or groups of persons harmed by irresponsible journalism if the Press refuses to hold itself accountable simply because it can?

    The Washington News Council Hearing on June 1, by focusing on one person's complaint, actually helped shine a very bright light on a much bigger and more sinister issue: by colluding with state prosecutors to disseminate false and misleading information to the public, The Seattle Times may have seriously injured justice being served in future civil commitment hearings throughout the United States.

    Rather than being the watchdogs of state government, as we need them to be, The Seattle Times appears to have become their lapdog.

    Don't care about the civil rights of sex offenders who served their time? Then sign away your own, too, because our country, the last time I looked, is supposed to uphold Constitutional protections for all.


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