Today his spirit lives on in the body of Congressman Mark Souder (R-Ind.), whose virulent compulsion to expose "drug legalizers" is equally troublesome and distracting. I discussed Souder last week, but the story of his festering paranoia just grows more compelling all the time.
As I reported last week, Souder recently attacked a large coalition of mainstream public health, education, legal, and policy organizations because they opposed his law denying financial aid to students with drug convictions. The incident provoked amusement and unfavorable coverage from the Washington press, due to the absurdity of accusing groups like the National Education Association and the United Methodist Church of trying to legalize drugs.
Today, The Politico published the following letter from Souder questioning the integrity of their coverage of the incident:
POLITICO = IDEOLOGICAL PRISM?In short, The Politico published an article about how Mark Souder loves accusing people of supporting drug legalization, so he sent them a letter accusing their staff of supporting drug legalization.
Out of fairness, it is incumbent on your newspaper to disclose when a potential conflict of interest occurs with one of your reporters.
IN the Nov. 13 article "Drugs and Money," Ryan Grim stated that the facts in a "Dear Colleague" letter I wrote were incorrect. Your readers ought to know that Grim was previously employed by the Marijuana Policy Project, a drug legalization group. Grim is hardly an objective reporter.
Given his past employment, I fail to see why you would assign him a story on an issue that he had advocated for as recently as 2005.
You newspaper's mission statement includes the following: "There is a difference between voice and advocacy. That's one traditional journalism ideal we fully embrace. There is more need than ever for reporting that presents the news fairly, not through an ideological prism." It's time to ask yourself whether you're meeting that objective.
Rep. Mark E. Souder (R-Ind.)
Editor's note: Politico reporter Ryan Grim's previous work for the Marijuana Policy Project is disclosed in his professional biography at Politico.com.
There is just nothing else he could have done to better illustrate the validity of their claim that calling people "drug legalizers" is something he loves to do. Even in a case like this, in which his letter would inevitably be perceived as hilariously ironic, Souder still could not stop himself from writing and sending it.
Even more revealing is the fact that Souder's letter makes no attempt to challenge the facts of the story. It seems that the prior affiliations of The Politico's Ryan Grim are the only noteworthy point Souder could think of in response to story covered in three major Capitol Hill newspapers. So if Souder doesn't dispute the facts of the story, and Ryan Grim's employment history was already detailed on The Politico's website, why did Souder bother writing this letter in the first place?
Easy. Because Mark Souder loves writing letters accusing people of supporting drug legalization.