Conservative activist and former state lawmaker Greg Patterson has cranked up his controversial "Espresso Pundit" blog again, but has sworn off covering university issues because of his position as a state Board of Regents member.
Patterson let his popular news-and-opinion blog go dark for a year after he was appointed to the eight-year term as Regent by Governor Jan Brewer, implying in his last blog post of 2012 that writing about university and Board of Regents issues could be perceived as a conflict of interest.
On April 9, one year after that last blog post, Patterson fired up the coffee-maker again with fervor, filing nearly three dozen posts since then with his take on local politics and routine blasting of the Arizona Republic and other news outlets for perceived bias. Republic editorial writer Linda Valdez is frequently singled out for a reaming, as is cartoonist Steve Benson.
Patterson's a 40-something over-achiever whose posts are smart and often insightful -- until his right-wing political bias and work as a lobbyist get in the way. (In which case we're usually still entertained.)
For instance, in a post that criticizes Channel 3 News (KTVK-TV) for a story promo that compares the state Attorney General Tom Horne to Jodi Arias, Patterson downplays the point of the story -- which was that Horne shrewdly paid his $300 hit-and-run fine on May 8, the day a verdict was expected in the Arias murder trial.
In a follow-up blog post that suggests the Obama Administration sicced the FBI on Horne in order to embarrass him, Patterson makes assumptions that are just as full of bias and unsupported by evidence as anything he's criticized in the daily paper.
Patterson's not a journalist, striving for objectivity. And readers should understand that any particular column might be trying to serve an underlying purpose for his lobbying business. Reaching back a few years, we remembered an interesting example of how Patterson sometimes seems to use Espresso Pundit as a tool for the political forces he supports.
Since Patterson put the blog on a one-year hiatus due to his position as Regent, we asked him how it would be different now. Here's what he said:
The first thing I did was take a full year off to evaluate. That was over and above what I said that I would do. Now that I'm back, I'm announcing today [May 17] that I'm creating a print version of Espresso Pundit that will include guest commentary, and an opportunity for a lot of opinion with which I don't necessarily agree. On the blog itself, I will completely avoid the higher education issues that were a staple of the old Espresso Pundit and I'm making an effort to be more bipartisan.
Yes, it took us a moment to stop laughing about the "effort to be more bipartisan," too. And we wonder if his blog will blur the ethical line in the sand Patterson himself drew -- for example, it's unclear to us whether it's fully ethical for him to write glowing stories about Tom Horne, whose office acts as lawyer for the Board of Regents in civil lawsuits that might cost the state big bucks.
All that being said, as heavy consumers of local news and analysis (who also enjoy having our opinions challenged), we welcome Patterson's return to the blogosphere.