Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Deseret News Foofaraw

So, we were all surprised to see that a Deseret News article by Utah County bureau chief Tad Walch attacked one of Steve's blog posts and the integrity of This Divided State and BYU 25 and then went on to dismiss Killer at Large.

You can read his original article here.

It's pretty bad. So Steve asked for some help drafting a response and so the response blocked out below is what we came up with.
It was surprising to me to find an editorial aimed squarely at me in Saturday's Deseret News. Apparently, a musing I had posted on my blog incited such fury in Utah County bureau chief Tad Walch that he saw fit to write a scathing two-page attack both on me personally and my body of work.

I don't mind the constructive clash of ideas. The jest of my blog post was an opinion (albeit colorful and rather sarcastic) that Utah County overwhelmingly displays both distorted patriotism and blatant superficiality. The fact that the headline "Utah Has Lowest Voter Turnout in Nation" came the day after the patriotic smorgasbord called "Stadium of Fire" was particularly fascinating to me. Mr. Walch, God love him, clearly holds a different opinion. I would have no qualms discussing these differences at length with him on another day.

No, my concern for his editorial stems from a number of different issues.

Firstly, there are much more important things going on in the world that deserve a 700 word column. Mr. Walch's decision to dedicate this space to elaborate his fury against a random internet blogger seems a waste of time and a misuse of journalistic potential. Perhaps this country wouldn't be in the sort of crisis it's currently in if more "journalists" like Mr. Walch paid more attention to crucial social events rather than what the "buzz" on the internet is.

Secondly, Mr. Walch decided to write his article without contacting me, or any of my production team, for comment. Because of this error, in both his judgment and journalistic integrity, Mr. Walch printed two factual inaccuracies in his article. First, he claims that my team and I "made fun of ultra-conservatives" in our first film, This Divided State. We produced, what dozens of critics across the country called, one of "the most balanced documentaries ever made" that "let's both sides have their say". Further, he falsely claims that we "manipulatively edited some film to cast an inaccurate [sic] light on BYU President Cecil Samuelson." This libelous statement is all the more damaging to Mr. Walch since a simple phone call to us would have provided him with any raw footage he needed in order to prove that no "manipulative editing" was done to cast anyone in an "inaccurate light." Knowing that it's a very bold thing to call someone a liar in print, I'll state frankly that in this instance Mr. Walch is a liar.

The third issue is his lazy dismissal of the newest film my team and I have worked for the last two years on. Claiming my blogpost was a desperate bid for attention for my new film, he called on his reading public to say, "No, thanks," to "Killer at Large."

Killer at Large is a film about the American obesity epidemic that, according to former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, is a "greater threat to our country than 9/11 or any terrorist threat you can point out to me". To dismiss an issue of this magnitude (and to call all of his readers to ignore it as well) is, at best, a sign of ignorance and, at worst, a damaging action to our entire community.

You see, Killer at Large is a non-partisan examination of the surprising causes of obesity, why it's costing American tax-payers more than the war in Iraq, why it's the single largest health crisis affecting our country and our community and more importantly what we can do about it. In it's short life (public screenings started a mere three weeks ago), the film has won three international awards and has been called "entertaining cinematic advocacy journalism" on " the right side of the issue" by critics.

Since Mr. Walch is the bureau chief of Utah County, we're having a screening of Killer at Large on Friday, July 25th at 7:00pm at the Festival Cinemas behind University Mall. We'd like to extend Mr. Walch a V.I.P invitation to the movie. Perhaps afterwards we can have a discussion that's both constructive and worth talking about, unlike his recent musings about internet blogging.
But they didn't print it like this. This is what ended up getting printed.

They cut off the last two paragraphs, which was our challenge to Mr. Walch to come see the film and base his opinions more on fact than the conceit of his own arrogance which he seems so close to choking on.

Perhaps the Deseret News didn't want to call out Mr. Walch any further. Perhaps they didn't want him to know about the invitation. But, I know he reads this blog, so we're reprinting it right here.

We're doing a panel discussion after the film and would love to have a lively debate with Mr. Walch about the film after he sees it.

Somehow, I get the feeling he won't show up...

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