I received a note earlier this week from lawyer Stephen Marshall, who politely chided me about getting my facts straight.
You may recall that I wrote a blog item about VOCM's failure to disclose Marshall's close ties to Premier Williams, in a story where Marshall defended the premier's attacks on legal fees at the Cameron inquiry.
Here's Mr. Marshall's note to me:
If you are going to write about me please make sure you have the story straight. You suggest that the reporter who interviewed me was probably a novice given that no background on me was obtained but I actually wasn't interviewed. I called into the Night Line and spoke with Linda Swain. Also, rather than identify myself merely as "Steve", I said I was Steve Marshall, a local lawyer, with friends in the Government and in the Opposition, and I spoke at fair length about murder trials and other types of trials I was involved in. That Danny and I were former law partners is, I certainly hope, no great secret as I am very proud of that relationship and we remain great friends today. If by virtue of the fact that we were partners in a law firm and that we remain friends somehow means I am not deemed worthy by you to call into a public radio show and express an opinion, then I think you and I, though we have never met, have major philosophical differences about freedoms of speech and expression. You may call or contact me anytime to discuss this or any other issues.
Marshall makes a fair point. He was not trying to hide his identity (and I did not suggest this). What I saw was the online VOCM story that, obviously, had spun out of the Nightline program the previous evening. I didn't hear the program that night, so I missed Marshall's introduction.
I appreciate Marshall making this distinction clear, though it doesn't change the facts of my blog item.
The news story was not written by Swain; it was cranked out by someone in the newsroom. Lord knows Swain has her hands full, as it is, on Nightline.
My point was, and still is, that the reporter should have noted Marshall's personal and former business connections with the premier in the story. We need this kind of disclosure in order to develop an informed opinion on the issue.
In the meantime, Stephen Marshall certainly does have the right to express his opinion on radio shows, and anywhere else. And I hope he continues to exercise that right, as we all should.