If it's year's end, it's mea culpa time! | John Baer
Everybody makes mistakes. Here are some that I made during 2017.
Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned.
It's my annual admission of fault. Sometimes in viewpoint. Sometimes in fact.
I've done this for years. Because news moves at an ever-quickening pace. Because confession is good for the soul.
So, let's get to it.
Back in February, I overstated an organized effort aimed at Pat Toomey.
He was taking heat for not meeting or talking with constituents angered over President Trump's cabinet picks, travel ban and such.
I noted patterns in complaints I was getting from readers. They mirrored the urgings of the online grassroots Trump-resistance effort Indivisible.
I wrote "some, if not most or all," of my emailers were tied to that effort, implying the same about those contacting Toomey. I heard about it.
Lots of readers reached out to say they had never heard of Indivisible, were personally unhappy with Toomey and acted on their own.
I mistakenly leapt to conclusions. Shoulda stuck with "some."
Then, in an August column off reports GOP Congressman Lou Barletta would challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in 2018, I fumbled.
I wrote that Casey's pro-life, pro-labor, pro-gun formula, used in wins since the 1990s (for auditor general, treasurer, and twice for Senate) was still a good mix in Pennsylvania.
But I should have noted that for Casey the formula's grown fuzzy. He called for gun restrictions after mass shootings at Sandy Hook in 2012 and Vegas in 2017. And he's taken heat from the pro-life movement for supporting funding of Planned Parenthood.
No excuse. I failed to provide full context.
And more than once, and starting last May, I wrote that I doubted state House Speaker Mike Turzai would run for the Republican nomination for governor.
For various reasons – most tied to how horrible Harrisburg is and how, after 16 years in office, Turzai's tied to Harrisburg – I said the speaker likely would remain the speaker.
Well, he's in the race. For now, anyway. Not totally wrong yet. But wrong so far.
Then, in a September column on the (yet again) delayed state budget, I stepped into one of those ever-dangerous detail holes.
After berating lawmakers and Gov. Wolf for failure to govern, I tagged Wolf for signing a $32 billion spending plan into law without any way to pay for it.
Except he didn't sign it into law. He allowed it to become law by not taking action.
A technicality, I know. But a mistake. And when I see a mistake in a news story, editorial or commentary piece I tend to question the overall veracity of the offering. Credibility is fragile.
In late October, I wrote a column aimed at helping voters handle statewide judicial races. And I goofed.
I mentioned that Superior Court Green Party candidate Jules Mermelstein was "not recommended" by the state bar because he failed to take part in the bar's evaluation process.
What I failed to mention (because I didn't check it out) was that he didn't take part because he decided to run after the process was completed.
This was corrected the same day online and the next day in print. Still, sloppy journalism. A disservice to a candidate and to voters.
Oh, and a faux pas crawled into a summer column. At the height of the budget standoff, I wrote we should change state symbols to better reflect bad political performance.
One example? Change the state insect from firefly to deer tick because the former's bright and pretty and latter firmly attaches itself and sucks your blood — just like our feckless pols.
But a couple readers, no doubt entomologists, pointed out deer ticks aren't insects, they're arachnids. (Insects have six legs; arachnids have eight.)
OK, my bad. But I'm sticking with the sentiment.
I'm also sticking with the goal of getting everything right. Hey, maybe in 2018.