Debate? Naah.

Last week the Massa campaign put out a press release essentially challenging Randy Kuhl to a debate.  The heading of the release was "Massa Accepts Kuhl's Challenge to Debate".  I read the release, and also the press release from the Kuhl campaign, which I got via the Massa campaign.  After looking both over, I decided that it was basically an attempt by the Massa campaign to get some attention based on some pretty light evidence, and didn't run the story. 

Today, the Ontario Republican posted a link to a Messenger-Post is report that Eric Massa and Randy Kuhl are planning a debate on S-CHIP, perhaps sometime in March.  The story was by Hillary Smith, one of their general assignment reporters.  Ontario GOP quickly posted a follow-up denial, which I assume he got from Kuhl's office, that includes the entire Kuhl press release.  GOP says that he thought the story was a little fishy, but he went with it anyway because the M-P printed it.

If this tells us anything about politics and journalism, it's this:  newspapers need to feed the beast.  That's why campaigns send out press releases like a deer craps pellets. Once in a while, a campaign lucks out and their pure spin gets reported as fact.   I'd bet a little money that Hillary Smith did not call Kuhl's office on this one, because she'd have gotten a pretty quick denial.  I'll further speculate that Hillary's editor will get an earful from the Kuhl press office, and M-P reporters will be a little more careful in the future.

As far as I've seen, the M-P was the only local paper that ran the Massa press release.  The other left-leaning blog in the area, Rochesterturning, has a post on it, but later included an update saying that it might just be a media back-and-forth instead of a real debate.  So even the "partisan" bloggers didn't swallow it whole.  Take from that what you will.