The Commercial Dispatch in Columbus is a reputable news source, but an anonymous post by a reader on its website following a story is not the same as a reputably, reliably reported news article.
Website comments are opinions of individuals, but the accuracy of claims in those opinions varies by source, and claiming that they and the newspaper's reporting are one and the same is simply not true. We certainly wouldn't want the Daily Journal quoted as the source of information that came from an anonymous poster on NEMS360.com, the Journal's website.
The Dispatch said Thursday in a statement that it allows anonymous commenting on its news stories from readers, but requires registration, as does the Daily Journal, which also has anonymous commentary online. An attempt by The Dispatch to contact the poster, "raymond," by e-mail to ask about the matter was unsuccessful, the newspaper reported.
A campaign spokesperson for the Democrat Childers made the claim of credibility in an interview with The Associated Press in defense of a television advertisement the 1st District representative is running, asserting that his Republican opponent, state Sen. Alan Nunnelee, supports a 23 percent sales tax increase. The TV ad cites, among three sources, the Columbus newspaper "online." The posting was placed in June beneath an article about Childers.
The tax increase in question is a proposal on the FairTax.org website. FairTax.org is an advocate for federal tax reforms that would replace all income and payroll taxes with a national sales tax.
Nunnelee has reason to complain about the television ad's accuracy. He has not publicly endorsed the FairTax.org proposal, but he has said he likes the website and would support "taxes that are lower, that are simpler and more transparent."
The Associated Press reported that Nunnelee refused several times during an interview to say whether or not he would support the FairTax.org position. Nunnelee in the interest of clarity should answer the question. What kind of tax reform, specifically, does he support?
The Childers campaign should pull the tax-issue ad because basing a serious political claim on anonymous and unconfirmed on-line posting further lowers the quality of debate. Both campaigns have turned to negative advertising which, while arguably effective within each camp, tells little of value or substance about the two candidates and their goals for the 1st Congressional District.
Both major party candidates are men of good character, but their campaign media so far largely fails to reflect those qualities, relying instead on painting and distorting opponents with too broad a brush.