Dirty “Journalism”

Every once in a while, The Daily Dartmouth puts forth a decent, well-researched, and fair-minded piece of real journalism. Yesterday’s hit piece they released on petition trustee candidate Joe Asch is not one of them. In an accusatory tone, The D suggests that one of Joe Asch’s former companies is guilty of French tax fraud, and confronts Asch with a variety of French legal documents, “obtained” [effective use of the passive voice] by The Daily Dartmouth.

Now, when they say “obtained,” forgive me for suspecting that means that it was delivered – story line and all – by an opposition researcher hired by either the Alumni Office, John Replogle, the Dartmouth Undying AoA slate, or some combination of the three. I think all close observers can agree that it’s highly unlikely any other source would go to the trouble of providing The Daily Dartmouth with arcane, translated French legal documents.
Moreover, one can not help but raise an eyebrow to the timing yesterday’s story. This was the last issue of The D before Spring Break, meaning the Asch story will occupy their front page online for a full three weeks – almost the entire duration of the voting period, which starts today. Asch’s opponents planted this story as a classic October surprise.
This tells us a few things: first, this is not a piece of journalism. It’s a piece of propaganda crafted by Asch’s opponents for the express purpose of sliming his name while alumni go to vote, and depriving him of the chance to respond. If The D were an honest paper, not a Parkhurst/Blunt newsletter, it would have told its readers who provided the story, and it would have put its accusations in context by inserting a few quotes from legal experts who actually have a sense of whether or not there was any serious wrongdoing here. My own layman’s sense is that Asch’s international company made a mistake, paid its taxes in the US instead of in France, and paid up the French government without incident when the mistake was revealed. But, again, we weren’t provided any legal context on that front. Presumably The D took its time before it ran the story. They could easily have talked to any one of the many trained lawyers at Dartmouth for a variety of perspectives. But they didn’t. Epic fail, as they say.
Second, this story – in conjunction with other campaign tactics employed by the Establishment (see below) – reveals what a low-down, dirty operation the Replogle/Dartmouth Undying faction has got going. For all their complaints about Joe Asch’s spending on this race (which is very modest), I would be very interested to know how much they paid to some oppo guy (or girl!) to dig up this “dirt” on Asch. Apparently, they were pretty desperate to get their money’s worth.
Of course, it’s always possible that Replogle, Dartmouth Undying, et alia had nothing to do with this story. If so, I should hope that they would disavow any responsibility and dismiss the story as the (weak) slime piece that it is.