The Pressley Fiasco
Pressley counterattacks … and the "Statesman" scuttles
By Michael King,
7:00AM, Tue. Nov. 4, 2014
District 4 City Council candidate Laura Pressley is running on “experience, courage, and integrity” – but doesn’t answer questions about her oft-expressed views on fluoride, smart meters, guns, or 9/11 conspiracies – unless, of course, they’re softball questions asked by Infowars demagogue Alex Jones.
In the latest episode of Pressley vs. the World, her campaign issued a press release denouncing “opponents” (unnamed) who are, she says, “sending technically baseless and personal attacks at the eleventh hour in an attempt to distract voters. As true warriors, we wear these attacks like badges of honor and remain laser-focused on the issues that matter most." (Bold in original.)
The “attacks” Pressley is complaining about (but doesn’t identify) are the recent Chronicle and KUT-FM stories describing her curious notions about fluoride and smart meters (she’s against ’em) and guns and 9/11 conspiracy theories (she’s for ’em). Although she’s long been publicly on the record on all these things – both at City Council meetings and during her several radio one-on-ones with mentor Alex Jones – she’s diligently avoided her favorite ideological subjects this time around, preferring to focus on the buzzwords of her campaign, “tax-cuts” and “affordability.”
Pressley blames “business-as-usual, status-quo-lobbyists” for these scurrilous attacks on her “laser-focused” campaign. Unfortunately for her laser’s focus, all these reporters did (Jo Clifton in the Chronicle and Terence Henry at KUT, neither of them lobbyists) was report Pressley’s own words in various forums; indeed, what she proclaims as her “experience” is mostly these various political and “scientific” Citizens Communication-style rants.
More amusing is the belated attempt by the Austin American-Statesman to tentatively back away from its endorsement of Pressley. Over the weekend, after Sarah Coppola followed the other media reports, Statesman Viewpoints editor Tara Trower Doolittle wrote that the daily’s editors – a bit taken aback at Pressley’s views on 9/11 – were taking a second look at the District 4 candidates, perhaps even leaning toward Katrina Daniel.
Just a little late.
Doolittle also notes Pressley basically refused to answer questions on these subjects for either Clifton or Henry, and sent only a “deflecting email” to Coppola. (Surprise: she didn’t respond to a phone call on this story either.) When Doolittle followed up, Pressley told her KUT’s 9/11 report – complete with a direct recording of Pressley’s conspiratorial pronouncements – was “out of context.” According to Doolittle, “[Pressley] never said she believed the conspiracy, but based on scientific evidence in an academic paper, she asked questions about why certain residue would be at the scene of the World Trade Center.”
Doolittle failed to note what Pressley actually said about the matter, as recorded in 2012, in reference to the supposed “evidence” of explosive residue near the towers: “That is the data that convinced me 100 percent something was planted in the buildings.…” (The “academic paper” Pressley cited at the 2012 9/11 debate was a self-published bit of nonsense assembled in 2009 by a group of 9/11 truthers, since repeatedly debunked – the "explosive residue" was paint chips.) Rather than having “asked questions” – as she claimed to Doolittle – Pressley cited as “100 percent” fact her belief in a conspiracy that planted explosives to destroy the buildings.
It’s a tossup what’s sillier: Pressley’s oft-repeated, crackpot opinions, or the credulity of the Statesman editors in ignoring those widely known statements and legitimizing her candidacy with an endorsement (mainly, it seems, because she passed their litmus test of endorsing property tax cuts). Now they’re feeling embarrassed, as are the “environmentalists” who endorsed Pressley in 2012 against Mike Martinez, although Pressley’s sinecure is a bottled-water business which imports the stuff in plastic bottles from the Pacific Northwest – about as “sustainable” as fracking. As of yesterday, the Statesman had edited the list of endorsements it published Oct. 28 to read "District 4: Revised: No endorsement," and to link back to Doolittle's column to explain the change. Doolittle is hoping that Pressley, “should she win,” will have her “eyes opened by experience.”
That hasn’t worked for the Statesman editors. Why should it work for Pressley?