Mayor accuses just-launched local news site of misreporting, “factually incorrect”

By Miki Mullor
Editor

  • Mayor Karen Moran calls a story about Farmers Market “factually incorrect,” and provides email evidence to support her accusation. 
  • The site, “Sammamish Independent”, published a story that Moran called a local school to discourage it from hosting the Market in Sammamish. Moran disputed information contained in the report.
  • The new site was launched yesterday by Lin Yang, a communications professional with ties to former Mayor Don Gerend.

In a new twist to the Sammamish Farmer Market saga, Mayor Karen Moran issued a statement late Monday night disputing a report from a new local news site that claimed she actively derailed the Market from being hosted in Sammamish. 

Emails provide proof 

In a statement emailed on late Monday night, Moran told the Independent’s reporter Meagan Williams and its editor Lin Yang that she “read [their] story today and noticed how factually incorrect is was.”

Karen Moran

Moran accused The Independent of misreporting on an email interview conducted last Friday night. 

“What I told you on Friday evening was that I was asked to send the city statement regarding social gatherings and that is exactly what I did,” said Moran when disputing the reporter’s characterization that “The Mayor discourages Eastside Catholic from hosting farmers market”. 

The Mayor provided The Comment the email interview with Williams in support of her statement.  

The email shows The Independent asking the Mayor: “Why did you email Eastside Catholic to encourage them to not host the Farmer’s Market within city limits?” 

The Mayor disputed the assertion: “I didn’t do that. I was asked to send the city’s statement regarding gatherings on public property during COVID. That is what I did.” 

In her statement to The Independent late Monday night, Moran disputed the characterization of her communications with Eastside Catholic.

“This is what I sent to the school.  This is copied directly from the email you mention in the story,” Moran told The Independent, referring to a statement she made to the school about the April 14 decision by the Sammamish City Council:

“The City Council voted to cancel all City of Sammamish events through the end of August, inclusive of the 2020 Farmers Market.  This was not a decision that was made lightly, but the safety of Sammamish’s residents is the City’s #1 priority.  The unknown trajectory of the pandemic and the impossibility of maintaining safe social distancing at these popular events such as the Farmer’s Market weighed heavily in the decision.  Sammamish has the lowest rate of contagion on a per capita basis in all of Washington State, and we want to keep it that way by not encouraging gatherings (even by those volunteering) such as a Farmer’s Market.”

The Comment was able to verify Moran’s statement after reviewing an email exchange with Eastside Catholic. The Independent did not include Moran’s statement to the school in their story.

Knowingly misreporting 

Moran also accused The Independent of knowingly misreporting in its story.

“I am greatly disappointed in the misreporting of the facts in this story.” – she told The Independent.

Moran pointed to the following admission by the reporter that Moran indeed did not call the school, contrary to what was reported:

“We were lead to believe by Eastside Catholic that an email was initiated by you discouraging the farmers market be held there. After further questioning them we realized they contacted you first,”  said Williams in an email to Moran.

To further prove her point, Moran also pointed out the reporter’s follow up question to her:

“And then you ask how I felt about the school giving the misconception that I initiated the communication.” – said Moran.

The Comment confirmed Moran’s claim with the following email:

In their story, The Independent reported that “Mayor Moran then called Gil Picciotto, the president of Eastside Catholic, and discouraged the school from hosting the market, according to email records provided by the City.” However, in their email to Moran, The Independent admits that was not the case. 

Retraction refused 

The Independent refused Moran’s demand to retract the story:

“We stand by our reporting, especially the headline that “Mayor discourages Eastside Catholic from hosting farmers market,” Yang told Moran in an email on Monday night. “Your retraction statement (and original email) contains the exact words that inspired our headline.” 

Lin Yang

Yang referred to the following sentence taken from Moran’s statement to Eastside Catholic describing the City Council’s decision (as reported above):

“Sammamish has the lowest rate of contagion on a per capita basis in all of Washington State, and we want to keep it that way by not encouraging gatherings (even by those volunteering) such as a Farmer’s Market.”

Yang explained that “It is in our view the act of ‘not encouraging’ is equivalent to ‘discouraging,’ and since the email came from you, we added your title to the headline. However, we do appreciate the detail you provided that Eastside Catholic called you first, and added your statement to our story.”

The statement Yang refers to was not included in The Independent’s story. 

Yang and The Independent failed to note that Moran was relaying action by the City Council and not taking action on her own.

Political ties to Don Gerend

The Independent was launched yesterday by Lin Yang, a communications manager with ties to former Mayor Don Gerend. Last year, during the local elections, Yang revealed on Facebook that Gerend is his friend and mentor.

References:

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