Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Non-Denial Denial

Sheriff Mark Shook in the Watauga Democrat: "This is a politically motivated and totally unfounded lawsuit."

Sheriff Mark Shook on WATA radio: "This is a politically motivated and totally unfounded lawsuit."

Sheriff Mark in the Winston-Salem Journal: "This is a politically motivated and totally unfounded lawsuit."

That's called getting a story and sticking to it.

Only the reporter for the W-S Journal had the presence of mind to move beyond the role of stenographer and ask, "Politically motivated by whom?" Because, all things being equal, you would assume that the Republican Sheriff meant "politically motivated by Democrats," wouldn't you?

"Asked if the Democrats or Republicans were behind it, [Shook] said: 'I think this is people that will work on either side just to get me out of office. Basically retaliation.' "

Here our intrepid out-of-county reporter failed us. He should have followed up: "Retaliation for what?" No such luck. Not that the reporter would have gotten an answer, but the dodge would have been instructive.

The plaintiff in this mess is a Republican. The forces that tried to oust Shook in the Republican primary over this mess are old Republican bulls in the Watauga G.O.P. To our certain knowledge, no Democrats have had a hand of any kind in this appalling mess. But it pleases the Sheriff to spread the impression that he is a victim of "the other side."

As one local wag commented to us this a.m., "The Democrats did not have sex with that woman."

Shook's opponent on the November ballot, Democrat Len "L.D." Hagaman issued a statement late yesterday afternoon:

"I have been approached by a member of the media about the filing of a lawsuit in the Western District of United States District Court against Watauga County Sheriff Mark Shook.

"First, I am running for Sheriff of Watauga County because, rightly or not, the Sheriff is often perceived as the 'ambassador' of the county. For this reason, it is imperative that the Watauga County Sheriff's Department projects the utmost integrity, unquestionable good judgment, the highest of principles, as well as strong leadership and management. This is what I will bring to the office if elected.

"Second, I have no position on the impending lawsuit between Sheriff Shook and Ms. Townsend. It would be wrong of me to make judgments before all the facts are in. I believe in our judicial system. The plaintiff and the accused both need a chance to be heard and make their case. For this reason, until the courts have settled this matter, I will not comment on the merits of the case."

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