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Earth to Demboski: You are part of the media

  • Author: Dermot Cole
    | Opinion
  • Updated: December 10, 2016
  • Published December 10, 2016

Anchorage Assembly member Amy Demboski during her campaign for mayor in April 2015 (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)

After spreading a bit of nonsense about a Muslim compound that doesn't exist, Amy Demboski tried to duck all responsibility for her actions, acting as if she is not part of the media elite.

To some, it may appear that she hasn't picked up on the idea that as a talk show host/politician, she is a card-carrying member of the cabal, attempting mass communication on a regular basis.

But don't be fooled; she knows the secret handshake and the master strategy as well as the rest of us.

Demboski passed along a bogus claim on her Facebook page linking an Alaskan to a tale about compounds and weapons stockpiles. There was an informative map with an arrow showing a secret compound on the eastern North Slope of the Brooks Range, somewhere in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

She didn't mention his name but it was clear from the context that the Alaskan she was talking about was Gregory Jones, a law-abiding electrician. She said he seemed like a nice guy but raised the specter of suspicion.

According to Demboski, it's not her fault that his reputation was harmed or that there is no Islamic compound in Alaska with a stockpile of weapons.

She found the perfect culprit to blame for spreading misinformation to Alaskans.

Spoiler alert: It did not include a certain talk show host.

"My point was, this was a failure of the Alaska media. And the failure is: When we're getting national media like this, we want you to either validate it or disprove it," Demboski said.

Playing the part of the injured truth-seeker and claiming that someone else in the media is supposed to check the facts is a perfect dodge.

She told Alaska Public Media that the "Alaska media refuses to pick up the topic and either help dispel it or help validate it."

"Let's talk about it, either validate or disprove it," she said on her show. "The facts lead where the facts lead."

Or, as in this case, they don't lead anywhere. When someone challenges others to disprove something, you can always tell you're getting marching orders from a person who has never spent time trying to prove a negative.

It reminds me of the bogus reports, easy to find on the internet, that a concentration camp capable of holding 2 million people has been built near Fairbanks. There is no evidence, but please let me know when you prove that it doesn't exist. Thanks, Obama.

Demboski is right about one thing. This is a media failure, but the pronoun is wrong. Forget the second-person plural. This is a case of first-person singular.

It was a failure of the Alaska media, specifically the Demboski branch.

Repeating sensationalist material and retreating, claiming others in the media elite must determine if it is true or false, is an attempt to avoid taking personal responsibility. It's nothing to brag about.

Anyone can find unsubstantiated material to broadcast and falsely portray its dissemination as a public service. What is really tough is doing the work required to know whether the material has any relationship with the truth.

Whether Demboski apologizes is up to her, I guess, but she should at least admit that this failure of the Alaska media rests with her.

Columnist Dermot Cole can be reached at dermot@alaskadispatch.com. 

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@alaskadispatch.com or click here to submit via any web browser.

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