Mid-morning on December 22, 2017, New Hampshire Patch posted a story captioned as follows:
The assault occurred during a November 16, 2016 recount for a State Senate seat won by the GOP. The victim of the assault, Susan Olsen, was present as an observer for the GOP, while Rogers was present for the Democrat candidate. From Patch:
In the complaint, Olsen stated that Rogers was challenging many of the ballots and requested that they be put closer to her so she could see them … Rogers put her hand on her shoulder, as if to hug her, stated that she wanted Olsen to be happy, and then struck her. Olsen warned Rogers that if she touched her again, she’d have her arrested and stated that Rogers… replied … “in a low, mocking, angry whisper,” … “Hit me. I know you want to. Go ahead. Hit me.”
After the case was filed Rogers’ attorney – William Christie of Shaheen & Gordon – told media outlets that the incident was a ploy and being played up for political purposes. … Olsen, however, countered that she waited until the end of the legislative session to file the charge in order for it to not be perceived as political. During the investigation by New Hampshire State Police, a witness came forward to corroborate Olsen’s complaint … .
Path further reported that:
A contingent of elected Democrats and other activists were in attendance to support Rogers including Ray Buckley, the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff, D-Concord, … and others.
WMUR and NHPR initially ignored the story. After numerous tweets about it from the official twitter account of the New Hampshire GOP and from various conservative activists -including tweets noting the mainstream media blackout- NHPR finally ran a very brief story a day later.
There was no mention in the NHPR story of the details of criminal complaint or the corroborating witness or the presence in court of the Democrat Party Chairman and House Minority Leader. Even worse, NHPR mischaracterized the incident and printed only the State Representative’s version of events:
The charge follows an altercation that took place in a state office building last year during a recount of the results of a state Senate race. Rogers was accused of smacking Susan Olsen, a Republican gun-rights activist. Both women were volunteering as observers for their political parties during the recount. Rogers’ attorney said the lawmaker had merely touched Olsen, but accepted responsibility for the incident.
An “altercation” is a noisy argument or disagreement. That is just the opposite of what the victim described: Rogers… replied … “in a low, mocking, angry whisper,” … “Hit me. I know you want to. Go ahead. Hit me.” Calling the incident an “altercation” is deliberately misleading. Olsen was the victim of an unprovoked, surprise assault.
And to include only Rogers’ version of events, which are thoroughly inconsistent with the victim’s, is completely unfair and evinces strong bias.
Not surprisingly, nobody at NHPR was willing to put their name to this tripe. It was attributed to “NHPR STAFF.”
The coverage -if it can even be called that- by WMUR was even worse. John DiStaso simply posted an “update” -but not until 11:07 p.m. on the 22nd- to a story that ran back in August. The “update” merely reported the terms of the guilty plea, followed by this spin from Rogers’ attorney:
Rogers’ attorney told WMUR in a written statement: “During a recount in November 2016, Representative Rogers touched a former Republican representative while they were sitting side by side counting ballots. No complaint was filed at the time of the incident. Six months later the person, a political adversary, filed a complaint with the police. Today, Representative Rogers accepted responsibility for touching the other person without her permission.”
As I noted above, to include only Rogers’ version of events, which are thoroughly inconsistent with the victim’s, is completely unfair and evinces strong bias. And like the NHPR “coverage” there was no mention of the corroborating witness or the presence in court of the Democrat Party Chairman and House Minority Leader.
It is indisputable that if the shoe were on the other foot -if the perpetrator had been a GOP State Representative and the victim a Democrat activist- that WMUR and NHPR would have covered it in the opposite manner. The victim’s version of events would have been front and center while the perpetrator’s would have been excluded or met with extreme skepticism.
Additionally, both Ray Buckley and the Democrat House Leader Steve Shurtleff got a pass from WMUR and NHPR. Again, if the shoe were on the other foot the presence of Buckley and Shurtleff in court would have been noted, and they would have been asked why instead of calling for the resignation of a Representative who had plead guilty to assaulting a woman, they were instead putting on a public show of support for that Representative. And the double-standard of calling for GOP Representatives to resign based upon accusations, but not calling upon Democrats to resign after guilty pleas, would have been noted.
Needless to say, NHPR’s story and DiStaso’s update aren’t about “covering” the news. They’re about giving political cover to a Democrat State Representative, to the Democrat Leader of the House and to the Democrat State Chairman. Stated more succinctly, they’re #FakeNews.