Maybe Ohio Governor John Kasich's press secretary just ate some bad quinoa that probably wasn't properly cooked over a dung fire before he read the short pin I pinned at my Pinterest page yesterday, that uncorked his pop off about permanently denying me access to the governor, if I didn't retract it.
Who popped off to who here?
Following a conference call I and other Ohio reporters were on with Kasich's not widely known but motivated Democratic challenger from Cuyahoga County, Ed FitzGerald, I published an article on the phone conference, as did other reporters on the call.
The point of the early afternoon call was to give Ed FitzGerald a chance to unveil the next installment in a political strategy whose mission is to dissemble the reigning conventional wisdom, fanned by Team Kasich and often shamelessly promoted by some of Ohio's Big Eight newspapers, that Kasich is a turnaround king, and his latest budget, which at $62 billion is the largest in history, represents another spending document that makes tough but smart choices—including an increase in the sales tax for Ohio's shrinking middle class and paying higher property taxes for the growing ranks of seniors in order to reduce income taxes for the wealthy—that will transition Ohio to job creation.
Following the call with FitzGerald, and two Democratic legislators who will sponsor bills to undo what Gov. Kasich did in the budget with respect to likely harmful changes in the homestead tax exemption for seniors, I came across an opportunity to connect my Examiner.com page with my Pinterest page—this is the age of crossbreeding social media after all—where my reports on "People, Politics and Government" get to appear before a different audience than normally follows me: My gold-star subscribers, readers who find me through Google News and Facebook, and of course, my worldwide audience, which Google Analytics tells me I have, are who I write for.
I'd like to know who those 15 people in Beijing, China who read me are?
The provocative Pinterest pin pop off:
"Funny. Ohio's governor said the state shouldn't take the Medicaid expansion deal because the feds couldn't be trusted to pay their promised share into the future. Making seniors pay more property tax because the state decided to stop paying its share to fund tax cuts for people who don't need them is called transitioning to job creation. Really?"
The good morning news that greeted me today was an eye-opening email sent by Gov. Kasich's press secretary Rob Nichols. Nichols has been speaking for Kasich since he left the employ of his former employer, former Columbus Republican Congressman Deborah D. Pryce, who worked her way up the ranks to become Chairman of the House Republican Conference, the fourth most important person in House leadership during the Denny Hastert speaker years. John Kasich served with Pryce until 2000 when he retired to work for Lehman Brothers and then Fox TV as a political pundit with his own show on the Heartland.
12:28 AM (15 hours ago)
if you were drunk and popped off, I can respect that, and you can apologize to me to fix this. but if you want to stand by this, you will never talk to the governor again.
Rob Nichols, Press Secretary, Office of Governor John Kasich
My response to Nichols: "What demon got into you last night? Tell me what's incorrect about it. JMS."
When Nichols failed to respond to correct me, as I asked him to do, I replied again:
"In light of your threat to ban me from ever talking to John [and I guess you and everybody else down there], based on a comment I made that you haven't corrected me on and that others I have since spoken with, who read the Pin and moved on without resorting to the kind of retaliatory reaction you did, my response to your threat is to say this: Do what you're going to do. It makes no difference to me. I have other resources.
"It makes no difference to me if you shut the door on me or not. It only reflects poorly on you and John. What it will show is how terribly paranoid and thin-skinned the governor's office is. And you think he's presidential timbre? Really?
"Are you going to issue the same kind of threat to national media who will inevitably arrive at the same conclusion and who won't be afraid to write about it? If a little reporter like me, who knows John better than any of you or any reporter you sanction can imagine, can spook you, you're in for a very bumpy and ultimately unsuccessful ride to higher office.
"What you need to know about me is I get a little fired up when confronted by bullies and egotists and anyone else who's afraid of their shadow and tries to intimidate me by telling me I can't do something. I'm too old for your threat to be of any real concern to me but still young enough to stand my ground.
"For the record: Unless you care to explain to me why the Pin is wrong, in which case I would retract it since I'm not a purveyor of falsehoods like others I know, I will not retract it.
"It's your call, not mine. You decide who you dare let ask John a question he may not like [and there will lots more of those questions coming]. Do what you're going to do. I thought you guys were above being petty, but I guess I was wrong. Your attitude and that of your boss speaks volumes, to be sure.
"But whatever you do, it will be remembered and won't go unnoticed. By the way, good luck with that run for the White House. Have a great day. JMS"
White House visions?
It's no secret that Gov. Kasich longs to return to the national limelight as either a presidential contender or the running mate for whichever GOP leader does win the nomination in 2016. He'll be in the middle of his second and final term. He can put the state on cruise control so he can dabble in presidential politics, forming a campaign committee and raising money for it, for maybe the last time in his life. At 61 years of age, Gov. Kasich is no longer the mop-haired Republican rascal whose brash demeanor and love of all things private sector have always been on his calling card for higher office.
For Nichols and other Kasichmates, the vision of working for President Kasich, as unlikely and dim it may be in political reality, calls them to duty for dear leader. Anyone who would threaten a reporter the way Nichols threatened me shouldn't be working close to the Oval Office to start with. One can only wonder if Jay Carney, press secretary for President Obama, or Tony Snow, press secretary for President George W. Bush who also worked at Fox News, sent emails like the one Nichols sent me to, say, Chuck Todd or David Gregory or Dan Balz, or any other nationally known reporter with a big footprint?
To understand the quinoa reference, it's important to know the backstory. Last month a Democratic legislators sent a letter to the governor asking for an explanation for the departure of an employee of the Ohio EPA, whose departure from the state government was said to be because the governor's office, listening their friends in the coal industry wanted him gone.
When the Columbus Dispatch, a legacy newspaper that's been reliably Republican over the decades and endorsed Kasich in 2010, and will do so again next year, asked Nichols about the legislator's request, he responded, "You'd be hard-pressed to find a job creator that she hasn't opposed, vilified or protested at some point. If she had her way, we'd all be living on a collective farm cooking organic quinoa over a dung fire. So, I think we'll take her views in context."
Red head media outliers
For the past 13 years I've dedicated my energy and talents to reporting on Ohio news. My production portfolio during this time speaks for itself. From September of 2009 to today, I have published 1,510 reports covering mainly Ohio politics and government, although I also write on national and international topics from time to time. I spent three years from 2003-2006 as a credentialed Member of the Ohio Statehouse press corps. During this time, I wrote thousands more stories for a Capital Square insider publication not unlike The Hill or Roll Call in coverage of the administration of Gov. Robert Taft and the Ohio legislature.
In my capacity as Columbus Government Examiner, over 200 of my reports on Ohio issues, over more than a year, were selected by the House speaker's office communication staff and added to the daily "E-Clips" that all House Members each day.
My reports were excluded, according to Mike Ditto, the speaker's spokesman, because legislators wanted their local, small town newspaper to be included, too, and that would turn the production of the E-Clips into a more time-consuming and larger project. It was an explanation I understood and accepted as a real reason for why the E-Clips reverted back to former content standards. My time in the E-Clips, as brief as it was, stands as further proof that new media is successfully competing with old media, as Pew research documents.
Last year, I believe, until proven wrong, that I may have been the only reporter in the nation, who writes at a web page considered by many to be where bloggers blog, to have served as the national print pool reporter for the second highest ranking office holder in the land.
When Vice President Joe Biden visited Columbus on one of his many trips to Ohio, the biggest battleground state of them all that was eventually won by the White House, I was contacted by his office to be the national print pool reporter. I don't think many bloggers can say the same.
From a suburban newspaper, where my news beats were education and business, to my current new-media online reporting at citizen journalism site Allvoices, I am by every measure a reporter.
A test for Ohio media. Do they care?
What remains to be seen is not whether Nichols will open the door for me again, I consider it closed until further notice. What will be important is whether any one in the newspaperspher will pick up on my banishment by Nichols and write about it?
Kasich has enough to worry about going forward, and Lord knows he doesn't need more self-inflicted wounds from bad press reporting on his bad behavior, or the bad behavior of his staff, especially his press secretary.
Subscribe. It's ALWAYS free. Send news or tips to email@example.com. join me on Google+, Pinterest or Twitter, or watch my YouTube videos.