Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce's Favorite Scribe Linda Bentley Repeats Smear of Mesa Woman

I'm getting pretty annoyed at having to berate Sonoran News' nutjob newshound Linda Bentley over her myriad stupidities, but I can't let this one go.

As I noted in a recent column, neither Bentley, her publication, nor the crotchety bigot who runs it, Don Sorchych, have corrected their recent slime of American citizen Benita Lantigua, a private woman whose misdeed, in their screwy opinion, is to have signed the petition to recall state Senate President Russell Pearce, while boasting a Hispanic surname.

In a June 15 piece, Bentley held up Lantigua as an example of "massive voter registration fraud." Wrong-Way Bentley even went so far as to suggest that Lantigua might be a bigamist.

(Free advice to The Bent One: Pull the files, next time, Linda, before you assume that everything you see on the court docket under the same name belongs to the same person.)

Not to be outdone, her boss Scorchych wrote in an opinion piece, based on Bentley's flawed reporting, that Lantigua was "likely an illegal."

None of this is true. As I've reported at length, Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne has told me more than once that Lantigua did nothing wrong. 

The three registrations Bentley got so worked up about simply had not been consolidated by the county as they should have been. 

Lantigua never voted improperly, nor did she sign the petition improperly.

The longtime Mesa resident is also a naturalized U.S. citizen. 

But there's been no retraction or apology forthcoming from the Sonoran News. If Sorchych or Bentley had a shred of honor or an ounce of journalistic integrity, they'd have already run a mea culpa.

Instead, in a meandering, clueless commentary last week on some guy attempting a boycott of the Sonoran News -- which the rag must be taking pretty seriously to devote so much time to it -- Bentley addressed the contention that the Cave Creek pub was "busted" for sloppy journalism in the Lantigua matter.

"Also, Sonoran News wasn't `busted doing it again,'" Bentley insists. "We reported on voter registration anomalies during the Pearce recall effort, which included a Mexican-born woman who was actively registered to vote three times under three different names at the same single-family residence.

"Citizens who have long been concerned about fraudulent voter registration and voter fraud consider that responsible journalism.

"Additionally, Maricopa County Elections Director Karen Osborne confirmed my findings that the woman had three active voter registrations under three different names at the same address."

The passage reminds me of that Yiddish proverb to the effect that, "A half truth is a whole lie."

Did Bentley ever talk to Osborne about Lantigua's registration? Seems she hadn't at the time I wrote my article debunking Bentley's crazy claims. 

If she had talked to Osborne, as any good journalist would have before going to print, Bentley would have saved herself the embarrassment of her error and the possible legal action that may result from it.

But as you can see above, Bentley cares so little about maligning an innocent woman that she goes back for seconds, stating that this "Mexican-born woman...actively registered to vote three times under three different names..."

Yeah, because Lantigua's name changed due to marriage and divorce. 

What does Lantigua's being "Mexican-born" have to do with it? The woman's an American citizen, she went through the legal process to become an American. She has the right to vote, no matter where she was born.

Once again, Bentley links Lantigua's name to "fraudulent voter registration and voter fraud," and has the temerity to call this "responsible journalism."

Wow. Of course, you have to consider the source. Bentley remains a die-hard "birther" despite the fact that President Obama has released his long form birth certificate. She writes about the birther movement's crackpot conspiracy theories every freaking chance she gets. 

Makes me wonder when Bentley's hard-hitting expose on the faked moon landings will be out. 

Apparently, a tin-foil hat is the only requirement for being a "reporter" at the Sonoran News. Not that I care about Bentley's ravings on the subject of birther-ism. No one with a lick of sense takes that bull seriously. Even Republicans run away from it now.

But Bentley's scurrilous, untrue and potentially libelous attacks on Benita Lantigua are an outrage. 

People make mistakes. If Bentley'd own this one and apologize to the woman, I'd let it pass. While Bentley persists in her folly, I feel obligated to respond to it on Lantigua's behalf, and will continue to do so every time Bentley repeats this vile smear.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons