Ordinarily, it would be a badge of honor and source of humor to be attacked by conservative blogger Suzanne Downing in ‘Must Read Alaska’, her e-blasted defense of all things Dunleavy.
But when your name turns up so surrounded by inaccuracies, it’s a badge you just can’t accept without retort, correction and rebuke.
First off, the former Alaska Republican Party Communications Director says in her blog, which is probably buried somewhere in your spam folder under the header, ‘House Finance meets in Anchorage, Democrats declare ‘WAR’ via newspaper proxy’ includes the lines, “The Anchorage Press will be leading the revolution, with none other than the General Manager Matt Hickman heading up the Charge of the Light Brigade.”
There’s so many things wrong with this, it’s hard to know where to start, but I’ll start by assuring Ms. Downing that neither I, nor the Anchorage Press, are a ‘proxy’ of the Democratic Party. Unlike ‘Must Read Alaska’, the Anchorage Press is an independent publication that does not lick party bootheels and call it journalism the way Ms. Downing’s blog does the bootheels of Tuckerman Babcock, Michael J. Dunleavy, and the rest of the lockstep Republican Party.
The Anchorage Press has no full time editorial staff; it is relaying the voice of a community that is organically and deservedly pissed off as fuck about the schoolyard bully-in-chief Ms. Downing defends to the death; a bully who is quite literally taking their lunch money.
A proxy? Really? Does Ms. Downing really not know what alt-weekly newspaper is and does?
To recap for her why the sky is blue: alternative weeklies are newspapers targeted at an audience that tends to be younger, more interested in the arts than money, spends more time walking or biking than in cars while on their way to coffee shops and bars, which, conveniently, is where you find publications like ours distributed most. Alt-weeklies are meant to advocate for the disenfranchised and disrupt the status quo. There should be no surprise that audience tends to tilt left, politically.
On the flip-side of the same coin is talk radio, which tends to target an audience that is older, more interested in money than the arts, doesn’t walk or bike much and spends a considerable amount of time in their automobiles — stereotypically pick-up trucks, listening to the radio on their way to work sites. There should, likewise, be no surprise that audience tends to lean right, politically.
The only reason I can think for Downing to assume our cover last week, headlined: ‘This Means War: If there’s any hope of saving our state, Governor Dunleavy must be recalled — like, now’, was the product of Democratic Party direction is that the Dunleavy camp is so afraid of the shitstorm of protest and outrage that’s already begun to be rained on them that they’ve pre-emptively succumbed to bunker mentality and the paranoia that inevitably comes with it.
Well, Ms. Downing, let me offer some succor to your growing paranoia: Last week’s Anchorage Press — just as it was this week and every week that’s printed hereafter, so long as I have anything to say about it — was not under the influence of any party or any external influence, though it was inspired by that legendary provocateur Bugs Bunny. It was a principled, thoughtful and independent expression of most Anchorageites’ fury at Governor Dunleavy’s blatant attempts to depopulate our state and rid it of any and all erudite civilization, just so those who remain can have a slightly larger slice of the PFD pie.
But Downing never stops at mere paranoia. No, she always has a way of stepping into a bigger bucket of shit, too, resurrecting things she really ought not want to.
In the next line of her blog post, Downing writes: “Hickman is the one who published vicious falsehoods about Dunleavy during the election (remember Prometheus?) We won’t hear any bleating from the Left about the bias of the Anchorage Press. They love the media that fits their narrative.”
This statement is objectively false. But since you asked, Suzanne, I’ll update you on the progress of our reporting on the story the best I can.
As much as I might like to take credit for breaking the story about the Prometheus rumors, the fact is the story was broken by Downing’s fellow blogger Jeff Landfield, of Alaska Landmine fame, who, in an unprovoked and altogether bizarre blog attack, posted that I was about to release salacious details about rumors surrounding the Republican candidate for governor.
Again, as much as I might wish I could, I can’t take credit for a break that wasn’t mine. The first anyone heard of any of these rumors in print came from Landfield, who blogged: “(The Dunleavy rumors are) that Dunleavy is a closet homosexual whose lover used to work at the Sheraton Hotel in Anchorage. It only gets better: according to this rumor Dunleavy’s lover was paid off by his brother Francis to move to Arizona and stay quiet. And best of all, Mike Dunleavy’s code name in the gay community was allegedly “Prometheus.” If so, that is legendary. Who seriously thinks that a 6’7” Alaska State Senator could somehow maintain total anonymity in an active sexual community by renaming himself after a Greek Titan?” Lanfield wrote, eyes rolling almost too hard for his incredulity to be believed.
This was the first time anything had been written publicly about any of this, and the details were very similar to the rumors we’d heard, though we’d also heard rumors of another chap being hid out in a lair back east. Still, it seemed imperative we check this out, especially given our unique connections with the LGBT community here in Anchorage. If there was no substance to the rumors, then somebody had come up with one hell of an unchecked urban legend, rivaled only perhaps by the ‘Paul is Dead’ and the Richard Gere/gerbil canards.
But, like I said, since Ms. Downing keeps pressing the issue, I’ll update you all on what happened next.
The Monday after Landfield broke the story about the rumors, Alaska Labor Union Chief Vince Beltrami, who had been labeled and warned by Ms. Downing as “Pornstachius Smearlaunchius” in her ‘Must Read Alaska’ post of Oct. 19, 2018, announced a press conference where the local labor union would be endorsing Democratic nominee Mark Begich for Governor.
Prior to that press conference, Downing, in the apparent hope of quashing the story, but instead giving any possible fire its smoke, wrote in an unambiguously threatening tone: “Vince Beltrami, (Greek code name: “Pornstachius Smearlaunchius”), is behind the crazy smear campaign coming at Mike Dunleavy next week. He started rumors in January, fed them throughout the year, and now will launch the kill hit. This is Chicago-style AFL-CIO stuff. But Must Read Alaska is loaded for bear on this one. Bring it, Pornstachius,” she wrote.
So obviously, it wasn’t the Anchorage Press fomenting this ‘October Surprise’, it was Beltrami, according to Downing’s own words.
At the press conference, Beltrami spoke about the Prometheus rumors, saying, “I don’t care one iota about what Mike Dunleavy’s proclivities are one way or another, but what is more of a concern to me, and I would think to anyone who is a registered Republican, are the actions of Republican Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock.
I do know that Tuckerman Babcock — because I witnessed this — hired a private investigator to interrogate a private citizen about what that citizen may or may not have known related to this rumor. I witnessed this happen. I believe that got back to Tuckerman and that is why he’s launched on me as being the one who was going to break some kind of story.
“(Republican party leadership’s) actions on this kind of reminds me of the oft-repeated line from Hamlet — ‘Methinks the lady doth protest too much.’ What is Tuckerman Babcock hiding? Why is he interrogating private citizens to try to get to the bottom of this rumor if there’s nothing to it?”
Beltrami would not divulge the identity of either of the two people he said have been contacted by a private investigator.
We did try to pursue the story beyond the rumors and Beltrami’s testimony, but every person we talked to stonewalled us — no pun intended — with a ‘no comment’ when pressed about the identity of this fabled Prometheus.
We were able to confirm that Beltrami’s claim that Babcock had hired a private investigator to look into the matter was true.
In the end, all we could call it was inconclusive.
The Internet being what it is, a reporter from CNN also began pursuing the story and her conclusion wound up the same as ours — nobody would talk. Inconclusive. No story there.
So long as no one has any comment one way or another, that’s where the story is at and that’s all we can say about it.
We have neither the resources, nor the wherewithal to pursue the story any more.
And, frankly, with the fate of Alaska’s university system, public health, law enforcement and everything in between hanging in the balance, we’ve moved on to much bigger reasons to be concerned about Governor Dunleavy’s failures in leadership than any salacious rumors from recent mythology.
It’s funny, and a little frightening, that Suzanne Downing hasn’t.