Bearing Drift owes it’s readers two things: (1) an unvarnished and truthful opinion about the facts of the day that (2) does not create context that does not exist. When Bearing Drift’s reputation — and that of its editors and contributors — is borrowed or stolen to that end, Bearing Drift as a community has been swift to punish and preserve. Count on it.
We take a great deal of pride in assiduously maintaining the reputation of Bearing Drift, because at the end of the day, our individual reputations — rightly or wrongly — are bound with Bearing Drift as a news source. When that platform is borrowed or stolen to drive home a point:
The man (sic) who pushed out the RPV chairman (sic) over trumped up corruption charges while running for governor is currently in the middle of finalizing a plea agreement which includes his resignation as governor. More to come soon.
Action must be taken. Therefore, the editors of Bearing Drift have decided to suspend Willie Deutsch as a contributor.
While we can credit Mr. Deutsch with exposing a long-standing rumor that had been circulating for a number of weeks, the allegation was made that Governor McDonnell would resign by July 8th. This was stretched into the 11th, and finally a week later on Monday, July 15th — with no announcement.
The ethics scandal is bad enough without false news of impending resignations. Such information being bandied about is worthy of lesser platforms. What’s worse, as “the source” Mr. Deutsch offered is — as of today — (1) unknown to the Bearing Drift board, (2) has a deep and abiding interest in doing Governor McDonnell harm, and (3) apparently has no small amount of schadenfreude stemming from the ouster of disgraced former RPV chairman Jeff Frederick, this leaves a reasonable observer to conclude that Mr. Deutsch was fed a story based on rumors, innuendo, and an incorrect claim of an impending resignation that never materialized.
While the editors here stood by the story — and indeed, there was a story — the trust between this particular contributor and Bearing Drift was clearly demonstrated to be a one-way street. In short, our audience and reputations were hijacked by an anonymous source, who gave a story to Mr. Deutsch in the hopes he would publish it without question.
To us, that is unacceptable.
Some will wrongly argue that this now somehow improves McDonnell’s situation. It does not. Divorced completely from the ethics scandal Governor McDonnell has embroiled himself in with regards to Star Scientific, Mr. Deutsch’s sources and associates may be guilty of bush-league rumor mongering indeed. But it does not absolve nor does it bail out McDonnell’s ethical lapses one iota. McDonnell deserves the scrutiny he has earned today, and frankly, it is no small wonder why another blogger or media outlet had not printed the rumors sooner.
Bearing Drift places a great deal of trust into our contributors to get the story and get it right, and to do so with integrity. When that trust is violated, the entire system we have so carefully built and maintained here breaks down. That trust — and our reputations — are worth much more than cheap hits on a Saturday night.