The right to know

Buzzwords have been thrust into the spotlight in the last few days. Namely, Gov. Sarah PalinâÄôs Troopergate and Sen. Norm ColemanâÄôs Suitgate. Both candidates have dodged questions from the media throughout the investigations into their respective scandals âÄî a tactic that only inflates a perception of wrongdoing. A YouTube video has gone viral in the last few days, since LeRoy Coleman, the senatorâÄôs press secretary, repeatedly answered every question from reporters inquiring whether he let donors pay for his wardrobe with: âÄúAs required, any gift Norm Coleman has received from his friends has been fully reported.âÄù Questions from reporters as to whether Coleman was denying the allegations âÄî those which merely required a âÄúyes or noâÄù âÄî were given this same response because, as Coleman and LeRoy argued, the campaign did not want to make a story where there was not one and legitimize the blogs that reported the story. But if there really is no story, then answer the questions. ItâÄôs not hard. Likewise, as reported in FridayâÄôs issue of The New York Times, Palin declined to be interviewed for a story about the findings of an investigation by Alaska lawmakers, one she previously had agreed to cooperate with. Palin was found to have abused her power in the governorâÄôs office in lobbying to get her former brother-in-law fired from the state trooper force and by firing the man who refused to remove the trooper from the force. During the 1972 presidential elections, as The Washington Post feverishly pursued the Watergate investigation, Nixon and his surrogates dodged questions and attempted to discredit the Post. Nixon later won by a landslide, and we can only speculate the historical implications, had the Post backed off the investigation. The American news media is the fourth estate âÄî another level of checks and balances on the government. Politicians must heed reportersâÄô questions in the pursuit of open and fair elections. Otherwise, the media and public alike have no reason to assume innocence.