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Kids Do The Darndest Things

Just a couple great stories where students show themselves to be far slicker and more clever than politicians, and better reporters than the traditional media.

Mike Huckabee gave an interview to The Perspective, a magazine out of the College of New Jersey, where the former Arkansas governor compared gay marriage to polygamy, incest and drug abuse. After The Perspective published a story, Huckabee released through his PAC a snide, dismissive statement saying that the college student who interviewed him has no future in journalism:

The young college student hopefully will find a career other than journalism. I would ask that he release the unedited tape of our conversation. I believe that what people do as individuals in their private lives is their business, but I do not believe we should change the traditional definition of marriage. Not only did he attempt to sensationalize my well known and hardly unusual views of same-sex marriage, he also inaccurately reported my views on Michael Steele as GOP chairman – I offered my support and didn’t “Rip into Steele” as his article asserted. I had a candid and frank conversation with the group about health care, education, the economy and national security while the young journalism student, instead, chose to focus on the issue of same-sex marriage and grossly distort my views.

In response, The Perspective took the bet, released the statement and stood firmly by their reporting. As well they should – they described it completely accurately. While other outlets might let a snake like Huckabee get away with his criticism of the reporting as part of a controversy, the Perspective merely called Huckabee’s bluff – and won.

Even more interesting is the story of Sarah Palin’s scheduled speech at Cal State-Stanislaus. From the moment it was announced, students at the school demanded to know who scheduled and funded the speech, estimated at close to $100,000. They kept digging and digging, and they eventually found the contract for the speech – in a dumpster.

The document found in a campus Dumpster does not include her compensation for the June 25 speech to the CSU Stanislaus Foundation.

It does specify other requirements to be provided by the foundation, including round-trip, first-class airfare for two, a suite and two rooms at a deluxe hotel and transportation via SUVs or black town cars.

It also requires that Palin’s lectern be stocked with water bottles and bendable straws.

State Senator Leland Yee and advocacy groups were previously denied this information – the students found it. As Yee explains in a statement, they discovered foundation documents intermixed with the collegiate documents, which would violate state law:

“It is truly shocking and a gross violation of the public trust that such documents would be thrown away and destroyed during a pending investigation,” said Yee. “Found within the same files as regular university business were financial statements and documents of the CSU Stanislaus Foundation – demonstrating that the foundation is operated by taxpayer-funded employees within the university itself. How can they possibly claim that no tax dollars are being used for the Palin event when state employees are called in on their furlough day to help avoid public scrutiny?”

The students blew the lid off a real story of misuse of public funds.

Maybe we shouldn’t worry about this “death of journalism” after all.

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David Dayen

David Dayen