Normally reporters are not newsmakers. But Milan Simonich, a reporter who works for the Texas-New Mexico Newspapers Partnership is suddenly under scrutiny for a controversial column he wrote on Sunday just after the New Mexico Republican's pre-primary convention. Simonich reported that N.M. Lt. Governor John Sanchez specified "1980" as the year he cast his first vote for Ronald Reagan during his speech to convention delegates. Reagan, a two term president was elected in 1980 which turns out to be before Sanchez was eligible to vote. Reagan was re-elected in 1984 after Sanchez was eligible to vote. In the column Simonich went on to deliver a rather scathing rebuke of the Lieutenant Governor for either voting illegally in 1980 or misleading the GOP delegates for effect. Not surprisingly, most media outlets around the state picked up the Simonich story and ran it as if it were fact.
News New Mexico has been contacted by witnesses at the convention who have a different recollection of precisely what the Lt. Governor said. Aaron Henry Diaz who often co-hosts the News New Mexico radio show was also in attendance. Diaz says he did not recall Sanchez specifiying a year in his statement. It his recollection that Sanchez simply said the first vote he ever cast in a presidential election was for Ronald Reagan. This morning we sent out an email to the Sanchez camp to see if Simonich sought clarification. We are still waiting for a response.
In the meantime, just after we went off the air this morning, we received an email from Charles Galt another News New Mexico listener who was also in attendance at the convention during the Sanchez speech. Here is what Galt said:
"I was at the convention and listened to John Sanchez speak. He did not state when he voted, just that his first vote for President of the United States was for Ronald Reagan. This story and the story he wrote in the Las Cruces Sun News on page 1 section C on Sunday March 18, included a paragraph on what Heather Wilson did not say at the convention speech. This "reporter" is writing misleading, slanted news a la NY Times and Pravda, he is not reporting what was said and observed but weaving editorial comment into a matrix of seemingly accurate and witnessed words/deeds. This is a tactic that is showing up more and more in local news media like the Sun News and needs to fleshed out for what it is, left wing to Democratic Party screed. Is there not enough news to report of what actually occurred than having so-called journalists injecting and spinning their own ideas and ideology into what their editors pretend is, and print as, nothing but the news?"
After the Galt e-mail we spoke to Capitol Report New Mexico's Rob Nikolewski who was also in attendance at the convention. Nikolewski said he did not recall Sanchez specifying which year he cast the vote, but also said he did not find it significant enough that Sanchez mentioned the vote for Reagan to even write it down in his notes. More to follow as we follow up on the Simonich story.
Convention Attendees Claim Simonich Column a Thinly Disguised Hatchet Job on John Sanchez