Left-Stream Media Lament Arpaio Recall Failure

By Tom Blumer, Newsbusters

Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio won’t be subject to a recall  election. It wasn’t even close, though two press reports, one at the  Associated Press and another at the  Los Angeles Times, failed to accurately convey how seriously organizers  failed. Both reports also trotted out an “if only” excuse which doesn’t pass the  stench test, let alone the smell test.

Neither outlet gave an accurate impression of how seriously the recall drive  failed. Organizers needed 335,317 valid signatures, but Stephen Lemons at  the Phoenix New Times (in a “Featured Bastard” report, no  less) reported earlier in the week that the recall movement’s manager  “estimates that the recall now needs 90,000 more signatures to have a cushion in  addition to the 335,317 necessary to force a recall.” In other words, the magic  turn-in number, unreported by both the AP and the Times, was really 425,000 and  change.

The AP’s Jacques Billeaud at  least stuck to only what the recall movement itself claimed, and even  allowed the full effect of Sheriff Joe’s gloating statement into his  dispatch:

“It is a sad day,” recall campaign manager Lilia Alvarez said. “It is a  disappointment.”

Recall organizers won’t reveal the number of signatures they  gathered. In their last update, given five weeks ago, organizers said they had  gathered 200,000 signatures.

“The count at this point doesn’t matter,” Alvarez said in deciding not to  reveal the number of signatures gathered.

Arpaio issued a statement suggesting that recall organizers aren’t  revealing the number of signatures they gathered because they are embarrassed by  the level of their failure. “This effort failed because the good people  of Maricopa County, whom I’m honored to serve, rejected the wrong-headed idea of  overturning an election,” Arpaio said.

But in moves ordinarily expected of AP, the wire service kept Arpaio’s name  out of the headline (“GROUP FAILS IN BID TO RECALL ARIZ. SHERIFF”) and used what  is likely the most  unflattering photo it has in its files to accompany the story. Oh, and  Billeaud made sure to call Arpaio “polarizing” in his opening paragraph — a  tage the press almost never applies to a Democrat or liberal.

At  the Times, Cindy Carcamo allowed someone besides Ms. Alvarez, the campaign’s  director, to throw out a vague number, clipped the gloating element from  Arpaio’s statment, and went into excuse-making mode:

Activists behind the recall effort would not say how many signatures they  were short. Randy Parraz, president of Citizens for Better Arizona, only said  the two groups had collected close to 300,000 signatures.

Arpaio, reelected in November, blasted the group in a prepared  statement.

“After months of name calling, after the disparaging effigies and theatrics … this latest recall effort has failed,” Arpaio said. “This effort failed because  the good people of Maricopa County, whom I’m honored to serve, rejected the  wrongheaded idea of overturning an election.”

The groups had struggled to raise funds necessary to hire paid  signature gatherers — key to these sort of efforts. Instead, the groups  relied heavily on volunteers to gather signatures against the six-term sheriff  who is something of an institution in Arizona’s largest county.

… The groups gained momentum after a federal judge ruled Friday that the  immigration enforcement policies employed by Arpaio violated the  Constitution.

What momentum? Giving Parraz’s apparently unauthorized estimate a huge  benefit of the doubt and calling it 275,000 the recall fell short by at least  37% ([435,000 minus 275,000] divided by 435,000) of what they needed.

The AP’s Billeaud also allowed an excuse-maker into his report:

“I wish from the bottom of my heart that this ruling would have  come out a month earlier. Had this ruling come out a month earlier, who knows  how many signatures we would have gotten,” Democratic state Rep. Martin Quezada  of Avondale, a supporter of the Arpaio recall effort, said.

Maybe a few thousand? Big deal.

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