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Word play, lies and spin

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By The Staff

From time to time, the media have been criticized for avoiding the word “lie.” Instead, when a newsmaker is caught in a fabrication of the truth, journalists tend to prefer milder terminology, such as “mislead” or “stretch the truth.” We at the Optic are no exception; we don’t like to accuse someone of lying unless it is blatantly obvious that he or she intentionally did so.

In the case of Public Regulation Commission candidate Jerome Block, we feel justified in saying he lied about the band Wyld Country playing at a campaign rally outside Las Vegas. He repeatedly told us that the band had played. His campaign manager, Jonathan Valdez, even scolded reporter David Giuliani for his persistence on the matter, saying at one point in an e-mail, “For the last time, we did have a rally, and yes the band did perform.”

Turns out he was wrong. Turns out Block, who sat in Giuliani’s office and insisted that he was telling the truth, admitted the next day that he wasn’t “forthcoming” about the truth. It was blatantly obvious that he had lied.

After Block’s lie was exposed, all hell broke out for him, and it seems only to have gotten worse. The secretary of state has questioned his reported $2,500 to the band, the attorney general’s office has begun a preliminary inquiry and, most recently, his claim on at least one of his “endorsements” is now in question. In short, his campaign is in free-fall.

Perhaps we should point out that Block has never used the word “lie” in describing any of his claims. He told the Optic he needed to be “forthcoming” while, to the secretary of state, he said he “erroneously stated” to Giuliani that the band had played. Oh, and let’s not forget that he “negligently” made that statement to our reporter. ee Wow. He gives new meaning to the word “doublespeak.”

Meanwhile, in another, more recent e-mail, campaign manager Valdez said the campaign is “very confident about the race.” We won’t go so far as to call that a lie, but we’d be remiss not to call it spin. After all, if you were a campaign manager for someone who had been caught in at least one lie, wouldn’t you be just a little nervous? We’d be nervous. And that’s no lie.

Amazingly, Jerome Block might just win the race of the PRC, simply because of his party affiliation. Here in northern New Mexico, a lot of voters will simply vote straight Democrat on Nov. 4.

But we think voters should decide race by race, and that’s why we’re sponsoring candidate forums tonight for the contested local races for County Commission and the state House of Representatives. Republicans have boldly stepped up to run against the Democratic candidates for District 68 and 70 state representative, and for Districts 2 and 5 on the County Commission, and they deserve to be heard.

We hope you’ll join us. It begins at 5:30 p.m. with the County Commission candidates, then continues with the state House candidates at 7 p.m. — all in the lecture room at Memorial Middle School. It should be worth your time and attention.