Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is finding out that running from the media and retreating to his Facebook bubble has consequences.
Greitens’ defenders contend that nothing compels the governor, paid with public funds, to talk about his ideas with reporters who have done research on issues he’s pushing and might ask him some tough questions.
If the former Navy SEAL lacks the political spine to talk openly to much of the media now, Missourians can either hope he grows one some day or finally starts talking more when his wide-faced grin isn’t enough to get things done in Jefferson City. Which likely will be real soon, even with a GOP-dominated General Assembly.
Meanwhile, Greitens has taken to the friendly confines of his Facebook page to post about his meetings with Vice President Mike Pence, a few of his actions as governor and his over-hyped claims about attracting jobs to Kansas City. To his credit, he does answer some questions there, but also won’t respond to many more that critique his positions.
Greitens is taking a page out of the book of Donald Trump and other politicians who claim that the media are liberal, so they’re using Twitter and Facebook to “talk” to people. Except that Greitens and his staff are being hypocritical about it.
On Saturday night, Greitens’ senior adviser Austin Chambers said this on Twitter:
— Austin Chambers (@achambersgop) February 18, 2017
This is untrue in one big way: Greitens has had several conversations with the media, but it’s mostly on TV.
— Yael T. Abouhalkah (@YaelTAbouhalkah) February 19, 2017
So as far as the “liberal media” contention goes, it appears to apply more to the print side of things.
Yet it’s absurd to contend that veteran and fair-minded print reporters such as Jason Hancock of The Kansas City Star and Kurt Erickson of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch have a hatchet out for Greitens.
They are doing a public service when they and other reporters point out the problems with the Greitens administration. There’s nothing “liberal” about a factual story.
For instance, Hancock wrote a story with the headline “Gov. Eric Greitens’ budget cuts aid to elderly and disabled” in early February. The governor, however, hadn’t mentioned in his budget speech that he would be slashing services for up to 20,000 disabled Missourians; Hancock and other reporters found that out later in the day.
As an opinion writer, I’ll wear the “liberal” label proudly when it comes to questioning Greitens on this action, which I called unconscionable.
Yet there’s nothing “liberal” to do the research, as I did later in late January, to point out that Missouri has had the seventh fastest jobs growth rate over the last year. I wrote that even as Greitens made the bogus claim that the state legislature needed to pass a “right to work” measure to add employment. In reality, the now-passed law was mostly about the GOP’s effort to punish unions and reward business owners.
There’s also nothing “liberal” about doing the research, which I did after Greitens’ budget speech, to point out that Missouri’s workforce is not bloated as he had contended.
Last point: That blog post is a good example of how the governor also deserves fair praise.
As I noted then, Greitens was absolutely correct to say he was going to support a “thorough, end-to-end audit of our tax credit system — and create a tax code that works not to benefit privileged insiders, but instead is fair to all.”
If Greitens actually accomplishes this important task, he will deserve praise for doing so. Even if he won’t talk to the media about it.