UPDATE: Bring it, says Sen. Ray Scott:
We wrote on Friday about Sen. Ray Scott of Grand Junction’s over-the-top response to an editorial in the Grand Junction Sentinel–an editorial calling out Sen. Scott for inexplicably delaying debate on a bill to reform the public records process. Scott reacted with a bizarre tirade, denouncing the Sentinel as “fake news” and some other weird stuff about splashing ink in their face.
It wasn’t super coherent.
But Jay Seaton, the owner and publisher of the Sentinel, is responding to Scott’s bellicosity with the full hellish fury of a rich man scorned:
On Wednesday of last week, The Daily Sentinel opined in an editorial that Sen. Scott should give the bill a hearing and pass it on to the full Senate for a vote: “SB 40 deserves a fair hearing before the full Senate. We call on our own Sen. Scott to announce a new committee hearing date and move this bill forward.”
…Setting aside for the moment the mischaracterizations and mistakes in Sen. Scott’s tweet, (though it is true we were not able to reach him about why he canceled the hearing) the concern for me is the allegation that the Sentinel peddles “fake news.”
True, this term has become part of the national vernacular as some kind of general pejorative, but I take this allegation from Sen. Scott very seriously. It attacks the very reason for our existence…
It is important for newspapers to have thick skins, to absorb criticism when it comes our way and not respond to every slight, real or perceived. That said, there is a difference between criticism of a news story, editorial stance or perceived bias and what Sen. Scott has done. His tweet is patently, provably false.
Worse, he made his false statement knowingly for the purpose of diminishing the only real asset this newspaper has: its credibility.
Imagine the backlash if this newspaper publicly assailed someone based on no facts and invented things out of thin air for the purposes of impugning their character. We could be sued — and we’d deserve it.
I don’t think I can sit back and take this kind of attack from an elected official. We are brokers in facts. Words have real meaning in this business. Sen. Scott has defamed this company and me as its leader.
To borrow a phrase from another famous Twitter user, I’ll see you in court. [Pols emphasis]
So…if we’re reading that correctly, Seaton is going to sue Sen. Scott to defamation? It’s not for us to comment on the legal efficacy of such a lawsuit based on the subject matter in dispute, but we’re pretty sure Jay Seaton has a lot more money than Ray Scott. As President-elect Donald Trump will happily tell you, the financial resources to file and sustain a lawsuit against a less-wealthy detractor often matters more.
Pop some popcorn and stay tuned!