Liberal Sacramento Bee Columnist Resigns
Griego Erwin Out After Internal Investigation
A major ethics scandal rocked the Sacramento Bee yesterday, after an internal investigation found hyper-liberal columnist Diana Griego Erwin had fabricated sources for a number of her columns.
After over two weeks of analyzing work by Griego Erwin, editors could not establish the identities of "people" she claimed to interview for stories.
Her resignation is especially significant as Griego Erwin's columns were often carried by papers across the country. In addition, she was a 1986 co-recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, while at the Denver Post.
It casts doubt on many years of work, usually featuring heartbreaking interviews with unfortunate people, victims of a mean-spirited, right-wing society.
It's surprising she wasn't caught long ago, as subjects often seemed cartoonish, or just a little too perfect to prove her sappy, emotional, leftist viewpoints.
A fawning examination of her work is found, ironically, at the Poynter Institute's site, which is dedicated to ethics in journalism:
Her winning columns that year (1990) took readers to the streets of
Orange County, delving into the stories most people never
hear; the places most rarely visit: a Mexican bricklayer navi-
gating bureaucracy at the Department of Motor Vehicles. A
homeless man, anonymous in life but not forgotten in death. A
gang member lamenting the murder of a child.
Now we're left to wonder, were these all fabricated tales?
Here's a typical sob story, from 1989:
The square of sidewalk marred by old bubble gum splotches
and a bicycle skid mark in front of Alpha Beta No. 172 in
Westminster is unremarkable except that it was kind of a
home to Hubert Creasy.
No one knows who put it there, but a handwritten card-
board sign now marks the spot where he sat in recent months:
“IN MEMORY OF THE HOMELESS MAN THAT SAT
HERE. HE PASSED ON THIS WEEK. MAY HE REST IN
P E A C E . ”
Dorothy Cole, a longtime Westminster resident, saw the
sign and remembered Creasy as “a real friendly, nice man.”
The real question is why her work wasn't red-flagged years ago. Were these based on stories already in the news, or were they entirely her own discovery?
Did editors in Denver, Los Angeles and especially Sacramento, look the other way for years or were they especially remiss in their duties?
One likely scenario: her reputation and history of major awards, put her in a position to be less scrutinized than would a rookie reporter, straight from journalism school.
Also possible: who wants to bust a fellow liberal, who does such a good job proving the meanspiritedness of the GOP and conservatives, three times a week? The Bee has long been one of California's most left-leaning daily newspapers.
Sacramento Bee Editor Rick Rodriquez had this to say today:
During our inquiry we found we could not authenticate the existence of several people even though they were identified by name, age and sometimes by the neighborhoods in which they were reported to have lived. We used extensive online database searches as well as old-fashioned shoe-leather work in our investigation over the past 2 1/2 weeks.
Griego Erwin has said throughout the inquiry that there was no fabrication of sources. When asked to provide confirmation, however, she was unable to do so to our satisfaction. She resigned citing personal reasons while still maintaining that her sources ultimately will be proved authentic.
It's amazing to see how many on the left are being caught up in these flaps, which quickly disappear from the headlines, while stories of conservative commentators being paid by the Bush Administration stick around for weeks.
Griego Erwin was a darling of the left, particularly in California, so I don't expect they'll want to focus on this too much today.
Updates: Welcome Michelle Malkin readers!
Will the American Society of Newspaper Columnists uninvite Griego Erwin from their upcoming Texas national conference? From their site:
The conference is hosted by longtime NSNC officer Dave Lieber of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Dave has put together a program of great substance so that you can show your editors that your attendance will be helpful to both you and your newspaper.
The fabulous speakers include:
Pulitzer prize winner Diana Griego Erwin of the Sacramento Bee, whose columns sparkle with poetic use of language and wonderful story-telling techniques.
Pulitzer Prize commentary category juror Keith Woods, dean of faculty at the Poynter Institute.