Hugh Reynolds: Speculation, social media and civility

Thu, 2018-02-08

As a young reporter, I filed a story from the mayor which turned out to be false. I had committed the cardinal sin of not checking with the other side. Having seen how these things played out in the movies, I offered my resignation.

“Go back to work,” my editor said. “If you can’t believe the mayor, who can you believe?”

We live in less trusting times. Ergo, speculation about public figures generates even more speculation. With the rapidity of a speeding bullet, the web lights up with every nuance, every embellishment. It’s like the old telephone party game where a story is whispered into one ear, only to emerge several stops forward as something entirely different.

I don’t know what happened or didn’t happen at Mayor Steve Noble’s house or at his father’s couple of weeks ago. If cops were called there is no record, as far as we can tell. In response to a newspaper inquiry, the mayor posted a comment on his Facebook page on Feb. 1 “A number of inappropriate and false statements were made about my family,” he wrote. “I felt these comments crossed the line and quite honestly, I felt it was important to bring a sense of civility and humanity back into politics.” He said he would make no further comment “at this time.”