OpenCda urges you to read Scott W. Reed’s opinion piece entitled When a public vote isn’t legal published in the Coeur d’Alene Press on Wednesday, September 25, 2013.
It is a pretty good introduction to disinformation.
When an identifiable government official makes an intentionally deceptive statement, that is misinformation, not disinformation.
However, when government officials or those fronting for them wish to deceive people and at the same time plausibly deny any involvement in being behind the deception, then it becomes disinformation rather than misinformation.
The essence of a disinformation operation is that the incorrect information must be believable by those who are the targets of the deception, those whom the purveyors want to deceive. One effective way of deceiving the intended targets is to create and control a false premise, then carefully support it with verifiable or at least authoritative-sounding facts. Disinformation works best when all of the supporting information can be verified by the intended recipient or at least when that supporting information sounds authoritative. The principle is that if the supporting information is verifiable, the false premise must therefore be true and believable.
Scott W. Reed’s opinion piece met the criteria for disinformation.
Here is the lead sentence in Reed’s opinion piece:
In the Coeur d’Alene election for mayor and council, the major campaign pledge of one set of candidates is that, if elected, they will have a public vote on any major controversial issue: “Let the people decide.”
Reed’s false premise was created not by including inaccurate information but by excluding critical accurate information. The critical information Reed excluded was that the public vote sought by the candidates would be advisory and non-binding on the Council. Reed then went on to supply authoritative-sounding legal substantiation for his false premise.
As if to emphasize the applicability of his authoritative-sounding legal substantiation to his false premise, Reed concludes with this:
Those city candidates advocating public votes on major issues are promising what is legally prohibited. That is what the Idaho Supreme Court told me and the City of Coeur d’Alene in 1983.
Again, Reed excluded key words “advisory and non-binding on the Council”.
There is apparently no prohibition on the Council using an informal advisory vote to gather information on an issue it will be considering. If there is such a prohibition, then the Coeur d’Alene City Council illegally issued a $100,000 contract for a piece of public art to the wife of the Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh in 2009. The minutes of the August 24, 2009, General Services Committee meeting state under Item 2. Artwork for East Sherman/Arts Commission Selection Recommendation (Resolution No. 09-036):
Steve Anthony and Eden Ergens [sic] are requesting Council accept the proposal of Teresa McHugh for the art piece entitled “Take Time” based on the recommendation of the Arts Selection Committee. … Mr. Anthony went on to explain that the sub-committee then solicited input from attendees at Art on the Green where over 1,000 people had an opportunity to vote. [emphasis mine]
Then at the Coeur d’Alene City Council meeting on September 1, 2009, the Council voted on Resolution 09-036 and awarded the $100,000 contract to Teresa McHugh. The minutes reflect this statement:
Councilman Kennedy noted that he was on the review committee which selected the final four pieces of artwork that went to a public votes [sic]. [emphasis mine]
OpenCdA believes that Reed’s column isn’t about public votes. In our view, Reed’s opinion piece is about making sure the public incorrectly believes that mayoral candidate Mary Souza is some looney who as Mayor would want a binding public vote on every controversial before the Council.
To our knowledge, none of the candidates Reed seeks to discredit have ever said they would insist on a binding public vote on any major controversial issue unless such a vote is already required or permitted by the Idaho Constitution or statutes.