On hiring a “disgraced journalist”

Remember Scott Milne’s new “flat organization”? The one with no campaign manager? The one that includes his son Keith and a few others?

Well, VPR’s out with a story about one of them.

Scott Fletcher, a former managing editor for the Times Argus. Fletcher was fired in 2002 for a front-page story that didn’t seem to be based in reality.

And after the brouhaha over that one story, serious questions emerged about others penned by Fletcher. He couldn’t, or wouldn’t, provide tangible evidence to support the stories.

So I guess you’re expecting This Partisan Blogger to go all medieval on Fletcher’s ass and the Milne campaign’s.

Nope, got some nuance to peddle.

A disgraced journalist, like any offender, deserves a second chance. Hiring a past offender isn’t, by itself, worthy of criticism. Indeed, it’s often praiseworthy.

There are some issues, however.

First, Fletcher is unrepentant. He insists his stories were true. Which makes me wonder if he’s learned any lessons and if he’s capable of doing the same stuff again.

Which leads to the second: Fletcher’s role in the Milne campaign.

That role, Milne said, is “research and background stuff that he’s doing directly for me.” The candidate said he has no concerns that Fletcher is bringing forth anything but the truth.

Why NOT? Good grief, Fletcher’s current job directly relates to the duties that got him in trouble in the first place. And to judge by his professions of innocence, I’d have a hard time trusting him as a researcher and writer. I’d have no problem hiring him to run my phone banks or buy ad time or drive my freakin’ car — but hiring an unrepentant serial fabricator to do my research? Hell no.

If Scott Milne knew about Fletcher’s past, the hire is yet another example of the candidate’s tone-deafness. If he didn’t know, well, he should have.

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