No place for ‘personal attack’ on Bump

CommonWealth should have called out Pioneer Institute official

I AM A FAN of MassINC and CommonWealth magazine, and a regular listener to the podcasts you produce. But I want to express in the strongest terms possible my outrage and disappointment in the standards on display at the end of that podcast featuring state Auditor Suzanne Bump and the Pioneer Institute’s Greg Sullivan regarding the Pacheco Law and the T. Having failed to support his aggressive position on the runaway privatization schemes of the Baker administration, Sullivan shifted the conversation from the merits or lack thereof of the Pacheco Law and the privatization of public services to an abusive and unsubstantiated personal attack on auditor Bump.

Sullivan, throughout the interview, repeatedly made assertions that he failed to support. He repeated more than once the hypothetical “if the Auditor were biased…” argument, without offering a single case in support of the outrageous statement.  Eventually, he took to representing – without challenge from host Bruce Mohl – his belief about what a former auditor might admit if he was in the studio.  He wasn’t.  Auditor Bump, having made the substantive case in support of her position on the law and her actions in enforcing it, was not only forced to repeatedly defend herself — with facts about her actions — but was then faced in the closing minutes with the kind of vicious innuendo attack that should not be allowed. Auditor Bump proved once again that she is a professional. Sullivan reinforced his descent into the role of ideological water carrier for the far right.

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We all need CommonWealth to continue to be a credible convener of conversations about important issues facing our community. Sullivan’s sloppy presentation of his position will undermine his credibility and the credibility of the organization he represents, but allowing his unprofessional and unsubstantiated personal attack can undermine CommonWealth’s credibility as an unbiased voice in the conversations. While providing a forum for substantive debate from parties with different views, I would urge your hosts to step in and call out participants who, when struggling to score points on substance, lapse into nasty personal attacks.

John Walsh is a consultant and was chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party from 2007-2013.