Journalism a check on Kitzhaber

Jonathan Williams, News editor

The Oregonian’s editorial “John Kitzhaber must resign” published on Feb. 4 garnered much attention and started what became a two-week media frenzy culminating in Gov. Kitzhaber’s resignation on Feb. 13.

As the story began to unfold, the allegations against Kitzhaber and his fiancee became harder to deny.

The FBI is now investigating Kitzhaber and his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes.

Many Oregonian’s are upset to see a governor go who has served his state well in his historic four terms in office.

The blame should not reside solely on the media for Kitzhaber’s resignation.

The allegations against Kitzhaber and his fiancée are hard to deny and whether Kitzhaber had any involvement in some of the questionable work his fiancée was doing will be discovered through the federal investigation.

The famous public opinion scholar and journalist Walter Lippmann said in a Los Angeles Times article, “The newspaper is in all its literalness the bible of democracy, the book out of which a people determines its conduct.”

Journalism and newspapers are supposed to function as a check on the government.

In the case of the Oregonian’s reporting, it did not appear to them that Kitzhaber or his fiancée were leading lives of transparency, which likely led them to call for his resignation in their editorial.

In the week and a half between the Oregonian’s editorial calling for Kitzhaber’s resignation and his resignation, public opinion changed noticeably in the comments that people were making on social media posts from local media.

When the allegations first came out people were skeptical of what the media were reporting, but as the days went on and the allegations become increasingly difficult to look past, the public’s opinion changed.

The power of journalistic writing is what changed people’s opinion on Kitzhaber as well as the allegations against him and the way he conducted himself during his final days as governor.

People are also interested in political scandals, as some would deem Kitzhaber’s, and they tend to stay interested in it as the story unfolds.

Most people’s opinion changed against Kitzhaber when then secretary of state Kate Brown released a statement that seemed to be against the governor.

Public relations crisis teams across the northwest were quoted in articles saying that Kitzhaber had made it too difficult for himself to try and win back public support.

Most public relations experts agreed that the only solution for Kitzhaber was to step down.

Oregon’s new governor Kate Brown seems to have been well received by the public.

The fact that she is the state’s and nation’s first openly bisexual governor doesn’t seem to have changed anyone’s opinion on her and is a sign of the changing times for a more open and accepting state and nation.

Jonathan Williams can be reached at @linfieldreviewnews

Note: Opinion columns are signed opinion pieces meant to generate campus-wide discussions about topics. They are usually written by students, but they may also be written by faculty, administrators or readers. These signed opinion columns are the opinions of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of TLR, ASLC or Linfield College.