Bangor Daily News Fails to Disclose Columnist’s Conflict
by Al Diamon
It’s well past time the Bangor Daily News put David Farmer’s weekly column on hiatus.
That’s not because Farmer – a former reporter and gubernatorial spokesman, who now making his living as a political consultant – doesn’t have interesting and insightful things to say. He does. He’s a sharp guy with solid knowledge of campaigns and legislating. He also has an insider’s perspective.
Too much of an insider’s perspective.
According to news stories, Farmer is the mouthpiece for Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s possible campaign for governor. As soon as he took that job, the Bangor Daily should have suspended his column or, at the least, limited his topics to those that had nothing to do with the race for the Blaine House. They also should have demanded that every one of his pieces carry a disclaimer noting his link to Michaud.
Instead, the newspaper did nothing, giving Farmer free rein to pimp for his client in print, without any warning to readers about his conflict of interest. Left to his own devices, Farmer has regularly used his bully pulpit to attack Republican Gov. Paul LePage, one of the candidates Michaud could be running against next fall, again and again and again.
His August 8 column was more of the same, reading like a Michaud stump speech. “With a confrontational governor facing a tough re-election fight and every seat in the Legislature at stake, it will be difficult to find solutions to unexpected revenue problems,” Farmer wrote, going on to say, “Maine has many unmet needs, and tax policy enacted in 2011 when Republicans were calling all the shots made things worse.”
There’s no need for a reputable newspaper to pay someone to churn out unfiltered campaign rhetoric. Reporters can get that stuff anytime by calling up and asking for a statement. This column should have been cancelled weeks ago, but doing it now would at least be better than letting this farce continue.
Al Diamon can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.