Got to tell it like it is: The Portland Oregonian kicked the Salem Statesman Journal's butt with both its investigative reporting and editorializing on the Kitzhaber/Hayes scandal -- which has culminated in Governor Kitzhaber's resignation.
Today the executive editor of the Statesman Journal, Michael Davis, indulged in some petty journalistic sniping at the "bad girls" who run the state's biggest and meanest newspaper to the north.
His Oregon's Fatal Case of the Pulitzer Pox piece struck me as sour grapes rationalizing, given how the Statesman Journal was asleep at the wheel as this saga unfolded, seemingly doing no original investigative reporting of its own.
Download Oregon's fatal case of the Pulitzer pox
You think the Disneyland measles outbreak was dangerous?
How about the virulent strain of Pulitzer pox that overtook the five-member editorial board at our state's largest news organization?
What's Pulitzer pox, you ask? It's a swelling of the cranium following the awarding of journalism's top prize. When you are overcome by it, Pulitzer pox creates an insatiable craving for more awards.
To the trained eye, Pulitzer pox symptoms are easy to spot. The early stages produce ecstasy, euphoria and a thirst for champagne.
But in the weeks that follow, all the accolades make the swelling worse, compromising judgment and, in unfortunate cases, delusions of grandeur, high fever and delirium.
How else to explain the power-mad editorial suggestion on Feb. 4 that the duly elected governor of Oregon accede to their demand and resign?
Look, I'm a proud progressive who didn't want Kitzhaber to resign. At first.
But as more and more disturbing facts came out, and Kitzhaber wasn't able or willing to talk honestly and openly about them, my attitude changed.
So much so, I started to feel that even though the reporting and editorializing of the Oregonian and Willamette Week (Portland's alternative paper) irritated me in the beginning, these publications deserved a lot of credit for aggressively digging into the Kitzhaber/Hayes story.
I pondered how I'd feel if Oregon's Governor and First Lady were Republicans instead of Democrats. If it looked like they'd engaged in some sleazy stuff that could have been illegal, wouldn't I want this state's newspapers to dig into the story as deeply as possible?
Which would include opinion pieces as well as news stories. The two aren't really separate, though Davis and other newspaper editors like to pretend that they are.
Consider: the Statesman Journal published an editorial saying that Kitzhaber should stay in office until the results of an ethics investigation were revealed in March. And, as already noted, the Statesman Journal news team apparently didn't do any original investigative reporting, even though the newspaper is in Oregon's capital, just a few blocks from the capitol building.
I readily admit that my dislike of Michael Davis' "Pulitzer envy" piece also is fueled by his killing an investigative reporter's story about a tell-all report I wrote about the needless destruction of five beautiful, large, healthy downtown trees by City of Salem officials, who made a backroom deal with the U.S. Bank president.
I've written about how Davis wimped out on challenging the local powers-that-be in several blog posts.
Truth Bomb #1: The Statesman Journal is failing Salem
Truth Bomb #2: Why I don't trust City Hall and the Statesman Journal
Investigative reporting: still alive in Salem and elsewhere?
The relevance is that with the Kitzhaber/Hayes story, the Statesman Journal also failed to stand up for the broad public interest over narrow special interests. Yes, as a Democrat, in this case I and other liberals arguably are part of the "special interest" group.
But the truth about possible wrongdoings should be actively pursued by journalists, no matter who did the seeming wrongs.
It sure looks like the Oregonian was on the right track when it aggressively dug into the Kitzhaber/Hayes story, while the Statesman Journal sat on its reportorial and editorial haunches, letting others do the investigative journalism.
Now the FBI has launched a criminal investigation into this matter, indicating that underneath all the early-on scandalous smoke there actually was some potentially illegal fire.
Given the Statesman Journal's passivity with doing investigative reporting on this and other important stories -- among which my U.S. Bank tree report was one-- almost certainly Michael Davis doesn't have to worry about his newspaper being afflicted with Pulitzer pox.
The Statesman Journal is in no danger of being awarded one so long as it chooses to be a frothy USA Today clone that cares a lot more about generating online "clicks" than pursuing solid investigative journalism.