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What the Devil won't tell you

Trigger warning: How to cover Speaker Gowan so he feels safe

State House leader just wants some sensitivity

Poor David Gowan. He just wants to be safe.

The Arizona House speaker finds himself under fire in the media for his efforts to keep members of the Legislature safe from reporters.

So he wants to conduct extensive background checks on journalists allowed on the House floor, thereby choosing which reporters have better access to do their jobs.

Criminal background checks for felonies are part of his plan. Misdemeanors too. Gowan feels the need to contact previous landlords and employers to determine those with characters worthy of informing the public. He needs access to reporters' driving records because leadfoots with unpaid parking tickets need not apply to report on what goes down on his floor.

Gowan wants to wield power over who does and doesn't get to cover the Legislature to confront the threat of an alternate reality confounding his pre-existing views. That needs to be policed.

It's why virtually every story involving the Legislature includes a quote from Sen. John Kavanaugh, R-Fountain Hills. Only an ex-cop can properly negotiate the trigger warnings of pointed questions from the press.

I see why you are confused. You are thinking about physical safety as if Mary Jo Pitzl of the Arizona Republic is going to get in her car and mow down House Majority Leader Steve Montenegro. You are thinking that a slight whimper escapes Gowan's lungs when reporter Howard Fischer passes by, because Howie might just uncork a beat-down as the speaker limply hits back with overhand slaps.

Think college campuses, where select students feel unsafe whenever someone professing an opinion contrary to their own is chosen to speak in a lecture hall or, God forbid, teach those students in a class. They are confronted with opinions or reporting that doesn't heed to their presupposed wisdom and feel endangered.

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View Gowan's background checks through the lens of reporters invading his safe zone and it all makes sense. The threat posed by a super-flyweight reporter like Hank Stephenson of the Arizona Capitol Times isn't physical. It's existential. Stephenson has a trespassing misdemeanor on his record stemming from an altercation in a bar. But Stephenson, a heavy hitter when it comes to the keyboard, wrote linking Gowan's taxpayer-paid travel to his run for Congress and endangered Gowan's perceived view of self.

It probably didn't help that Gowan had to pay back $12,000 in travel expenses and per diem payments that he'd improperly charged to taxpayers.

Had Stephenson written the story in a way that properly reflected Gowan's point of view, all would have been forgiven. 

It's fine, Hank, I'm here to show you how we can coalesce around certain synergies to find a real win-win by thinking outside the box.

Righteous traveler

Let's start with Stephenson's story. Hank found out that Gowan's travel on the state dime increased by more than 60 percent after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the boundaries of a congressional districts. Gowan wants to run for the CD 1 seat and charged taxpayers to go visit voters throughout that massive district.

One way to report it is to neutrally point out those facts. Those facts would invade Gowan's safe zone and his sense of self. So let's write with sensitivity reflecting Gowan's perceived intentions:

In defense of freedom and Jesus, Arizona House Speaker David Gowan has been traveling the state justly seeking the wise counsel of state voters who may or may not someday elect him to Congress.

In a freak coincidence that can only be explained by the divine favoring his undertaking, most of those destinations are within the boundaries of the congressional district Gowan would like to serve in his crusade to destroy liberalism before it destroys us.

House auditors demonstrated a conniving sense of nuance as they described some of Gowan's travel expenses as what could potentially described as "irregular."

(Add State Sen. John Kavanagh quote here.)

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Does anyone think if the Capitol Times published that story, Gowan would feel endangered by Stephenson? Of course not. Chalk up Gowan's new press rules to insensitivity. Rather than questioning Gowan's motivations, help him sync them up with his own sense of self. Contrary information shouldn't disrupt his logic board. He needs to feel safe in his own righteousness.

Some exotic weapons

Here's another example of a chance for political correctness in the name of conservatism so guys like Gowan don't feel so aggrieved.

Say Gowan were to ride herd on a bill that secures for Arizonans any weapon not banned by the federal government. Let's further stipulate that maybe the way it was written allows for personal possession of any weapon not barred from modern warfare.

Lucky for us, he did.

There's a way to cover the story that is un-PC and a way to report it that lets Gowan feel safe:

Arizona House Speaker David Gowan has won a victory, putting teeth in the adage, "All that stops a bad guy with weaponized VX gas is a good guy with weaponized VX gas."

Gowan proved to be a righteous shepherd by ushering in a victory for HB 2446, which has the affect of allowing ownership of exotic weapons including those barred by the Geneva Protocol.

Arizonans now forbidden from fingering the trigger of their personal grenade launchers while watching FOX News could soon see that change because Gowan has done his part to change that in the name of freedom.

Currently, liberal victories over personal freedom have rendered illegal the use of:

  • Sawed-off shotguns, rendering useless the trench coats cool guys hide them under.
  • Silencers, preventing righteous Arizonans the opportunity for a clean get-away after delivering two to the head.
  • Enough propellant to adequately launch a rocket should a conventional gun prove inadequate to the task of taking down multiple zombies.

If signed by Gov. Doug Ducey, Arizona families would be freed from such tyrannical oppression.

Insert Kavanagh quote here."

See, it's just your basic, even-handed journalism the public expects. If reporters would only write stories accordingly, Gowan wouldn't have to conduct these onerous background checks to find a balance between safety and the First Amendment.

Bad background checks

Gowan is no slave to background checks. He only imposes them when necessary. Here's a story providing an example affording reporters the opportunity to explain how Gowan has opposed background checks.

Boyfriends with a violent criminal history are breathing a sigh of relief today as House Speaker David Gowan oversaw a vote to protect their right to owning lethal weapons.

Conservatives, liberals and moderates would all be equally exempt, under Gowan's benevolent stewardship.

Though Gowan's efforts are heroic, liberals nationally continue to require retailers to conduct background checks, needlessly targeting violent felons and the mentally ill pursuing gun ownership.

Gun restrictions were in place in Germany when the Nazis rose to power.

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Now proceed to your nutgraf, background graf, the quote from Kavanagh and journalists can check their stories into the news desk. They can sleep soundly without the fuss or muss of the dread regarding Gowan's approval. The story will feel nuzzled by the ample bosom of liberty.

The difference is safety. Guns protect Gowan's safe zone. Reporters threaten it. Sensitivity is in order, is it not?

Always to Hank Stephenson

First Amendment? You want some First Amendment? Don't tell us Gowan doesn't care about the First Amendment. He's one of the good guys, as we can clearly see from his big white cowboy hat.

Look how he championed the rights of wealthy donors to bankroll political campaigns in Arizona without ever having to disclose their influence. Ask Kavanagh how much Gowan fights for the rights of the fantastically successful to rack up favors in state politics.

SB 1516 won passage under Gowan's heroic leadership. Now voters are legally barred from knowing how much lawmakers owe them for their seats. The speaker won a blow for safety because clearly Gowan believes that a public armed with knowledge contrary to what he finds safe is dangerous.

At stake is the Legislature's freedom to do what it wants when it wants without an impertinent media asking too many questions and making heroic lawmakers feel unsafe.

If the Arizona Capitol Times would just get that message, Gowan wouldn't have to contact their reporters' previous landlords.

Sic Semper Tyrannus, Hank Stephenson. Sic Semper Tyrannus.

Blake Morlock covered Arizona government and politics for 15 years, including 11 in the Tucson Citizen. He also worked on Democratic Party campaigns in the field of political communications. Now he’s telling you things that the Devil won’t.


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