I genuinely feel sorry for Republican King County Council member Reagan Dunn. He’s had a couple tough years. His political ambitions suffered a major blow when he lost his race for Attorney General. He’s recently divorced with two young children, and that totally sucks. And now we learn of his struggle with alcohol addiction and his guilty plea to a drunk driving charge.
I feel for him. And I sincerely hope he manages to stay dry and get everything but his political ambitions back on track. But I gotta say, I’m pretty stunned by this admission from the Seattle Times:
In discussing the plea, Dunn said he had voluntarily completed an inpatient alcohol-treatment program in the Los Angeles area in 2011.
(The Times learned of the treatment just before the August 2013 primary race for his seat, but after investigating it chose not to publish the information because it was two years old, Dunn had not committed a crime and there was no evidence that alcohol was affecting his job.)
So, I’ve got two problems with that decision. First, I think it’s just plain wrong. Voters deserved to know that Dunn had an alcohol problem so severe that it drove him to seek treatment (and anybody who has dealt with alcoholism and/or alcoholics knows how severe the problem must get before an alcoholic is generally willing to take that step). Maybe there was no evidence that Dunn had committed a crime or that his drinking was affecting his job, but drunks with cars tend to drive drunk. They just usually don’t get caught. And it’s hard to believe that an addiction so severe that it drove Dunn to seek treatment, hadn’t affected his job. So yeah, voters deserved to know.
And I gotta wonder if the editors would have been so protective had they possessed such devastating information about Dunn’s Democratic opponent?
But my second problem is: Who the fuck do they think they are to take it upon themselves to make this decision in the first place? The only daily newspaper in town, that’s who. And so they play the role of gatekeeper, however poorly, just because they can.
I’ve raked my fair share of mud over the years. And I don’t always enjoy it. But this was legitimate news, goddammit, and as a newspaper, the Seattle Times had an obligation to report it.