Doheny’s ‘Truth’ is wrong about Enterprise

If you see a television ad for Matt Doheny’s Congress campaign that says the Enterprise said negative things about Elise Stefanik, it’s not true.

Here’s what the ad says about Mr. Doheny’s rival in the June 24 Republican primary: “The Adirondack Daily Enterprise calls Stefanik ‘the definition of Washington insider,’ saying ‘She is NOT a small businesswoman.'”

On the screen, accompanying these words, is a fake Enterprise nameplate and the text of those quotes, with a date of May 22 next to them.

The person who wrote those things about Ms. Stefanik on that date is John Stack, an unpaid blogger on the Enterprise website. Just like letter to the editor writers or syndicated columnists, Mr. Stack represents his own opinions, not those of the newspaper. We don’t tell him what to write or how to write it, and in his case, we don’t even edit his work. But even if he was a paid, edited columnist, he still would be representing himself, not the newspaper.

The Enterprise, as a community service, offers open forums online and in print for people to state all kinds of opinions. That doesn’t make their opinions ours.

When the Enterprise publishes an editorial, that’s the voice of the paper, but the Enterprise has not editorialized on this race – until today. Because this ad blatantly misrepresents the Enterprise, we are obligated to set the record straight.

The staff of North Country Public Radio tell us they’re also unhappy at how the ad misuses their station’s content.

NCPR holds copyright over its audio, yet without permission, the makers of this ad used NCPR reporter Brian Mann’s voice saying, about Stefanik, “Her only tie to Willsboro is that her parents own a seasonal home there.” Mr. Mann said that as part of a broader report about Ms. Stefanik’s ties to New York’s 21st Congressional District, which she seeks to represent after moving to Willsboro last year. The way the ad used the quote made it seem more inflammatory than it did in the story.

“The audio with our reporter’s voice was taken out of context,” NCPR Program Director Jackie Sauter told us Friday. “It misrepresents a story. That audio is owned by North Country Public Radio. The campaign did not seek the permission for its use. The use of that audio in a campaign ad is unauthorized and violates the journalistic integrity of our reporters and the station.”

The ad is brazenly titled “The Truth,” but it’s anything but.

At the end of it, Mr. Doheny appears on screen and says, “I’m Matt Doheny, and I approve this message – because we need the North Country to influence D.C., and not let D.C. influence the North Country.”

The fact that he supports such a dishonest message makes us question his own honesty and integrity.

Ms. Stefanik hasn’t necessarily been taking the high road lately, either. Earlier this week, American Crossroads, a gigantic national super PAC led by Karl Rove, rolled out a nasty attack ad against Doheny that calls him a “three-time loser” and brings up baggage that was aired years ago in past campaign runs, such as his past boating-while-intoxicated arrests. It also contains an inaccurate statement: “Doheny has already lost three elections for Congress.” He actually lost two, in 2010 and 2012. He initiated a run in 2009 but backed out when the Republican county chairs endorsed Dede Scozaafava. That’s not losing an election.

Ms. Stefanik’s team didn’t make this ad, but she hasn’t publicly expressed a problem with it.

In the last two weeks, the Enterprise editorial board has interviewed both Republican candidates here at our Saranac Lake office. We were considering a possible endorsement of one or the other before the primary. After this week’s attack ads, we don’t feel very kindly toward either, but Mr. Doheny will certainly stand no chance of getting our recommendation as long as that un-“Truth”-ful ad exists.