Our Call: The press is (still) not the enemy



A report released earlier this month showed that Gov. Mike Parson’s administration had received a study with data that showed counties and jurisdictions in Missouri that implemented mask mandates fared better in preventing the spread of coronavirus than jurisdictions that didn’t. 

It comes as little surprise that Parson’s administration chose to bury the study, since mask mandates have been made out to be the antithesis of freedom.

It comes as even less of a surprise that when a news article was released outlining that the governor’s administration had buried the mask mandate study and data, that Parson chose to shoot the messenger once again. 

Last week, after the Missouri Independent broke the story about the buried analysis, Parson took to Twitter to attack the article’s reporter in a series of tweets, at one point calling the veteran reporter a “blogger” and their article “purposefully misleading” without expanding on what was misleading about it.

This column is not meant to debate the effectiveness of masks mandates, but it seems like a good time to remind Parson to stop shooting the messenger as a distraction from the issues. 

Just a few months ago, Parson went on the offensive against a St. Louis Post Dispatch Reporter who discovered that an online application that allowed the public to search state educators’ credentials could also be used to view Social Security numbers. In that instance, the reporter alerted the state of the issue before publishing that article, to give the state a chance to fix the flaw. 

Like with the Missouri Independent’s article, Parson decided instead to attack the reporter who discovered the flaw in the online portal, rather than addressing the issue raised by the article in the first place. 

It appears that Parson has not learned much in the past couple of months and instead continues to double down on his mistakes. It would be foolish to expect Parson to be besties with the Missouri Independent, Post-Dispatch or other outlets with a watchful eye on state government, but the governor should learn to pick his fights more carefully. 

Newspapers and other outlets are simply doing duty as a watchdog. It would be wise of the governor to do the same as a politician and learn how to roll with the punches rather than doubling down on his mistakes and blaming others.