Swarens: Gov. Pence's Reputation Bruised by Just IN debacle
Swarens: Gov. Pence's Reputation Bruised by Just IN debacle
By Tim Swarens / thestarpress.com

The public relations disaster known as Just IN would have been galling for any governor. But especially so for Mike Pence, who's worked hard for years to cultivate good working relationships with journalists on the state and national levels.

Those relationships were severely strained this week after The Star's Tom LoBianco reported that the administration planned to roll out a website that would break "news stories" and distribute content to media outlets in the state. A managing editor had been hired to direct the site with the help of an "editorial board."

The initial reaction inside journalism circles, and from much of the public, was incredulous: What in the world are they thinking?

Then came the outrage.

As strong as the push back has been inside the state, it's had an even sharper edge on the national level. The Atlantic, for example, denounced the Pence team's plans with this headline: "Pravda on the Plains: Indiana's New Propaganda Machine."

The words Pravda, propaganda and Pence in the same article is the stuff of nightmares for a governor said to be contemplating a long-shot run for the presidency. The future attack ads almost make themselves.

And it's sadly ironic that this mess ensnared Pence, who is habitually cautious about what he says and how he says it.

After a series of "clarifying" statements on Tuesday and Wednesday about the website's purpose and intent, the governor arrived at the only reasonable conclusion: The project had to be shut down.

He broke that news in a phone call to me on Thursday afternoon.

During our conversation, Pence reiterated his commitment to government transparency and his respect for a free press. He also said he regrets the perceptions created by what he acknowledged was an ill-conceived plan, the details of which he said he learned by reading The Star's original story on Just IN.

This debacle is by far the worst of Pence's two years in office, and came at an especially inopportune time.

In addition to the "Will Pence Run?" watch, which at least until this week was still gaining fuel from the national media, the firestorm that engulfed Just IN also scorched the announcement of a major policy win for the governor and his team. After months of negotiations, Pence secured federal sign-off on his Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0, an effort to provide lower-income Hoosiers with access to health insurance.

But instead of a victory lap, Pence this week has been bogged down in trying to explain the intentions behind a far less important project — a public relations clearinghouse billed as a source for news.

As I argued on Tuesday, it was a doomed effort, devoid from the start of any shred of credibility. And it deserved to be killed swiftly.

On Thursday, Pence reached that conclusion himself. But not before he had been badly bruised.

0.0 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 19,800 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 12,152 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
No Moral Superpower: Arundhati Roy, Edward Snowden, and the Crimes of Empire
Jake Johnson · 8,023 views today · When Arundhati Roy was preparing, in 2014, for a trip to Moscow to meet Edward Snowden, she was troubled by two things. One of them was the fact that the meeting was arranged...
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 6,580 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
And After the Election, The Reaction
Ret Marut · 4,748 views today · Could there be any better illustration of the shortcomings of representative democracy than this year’s Presidential campaign? For months upon tiresome months, the whole world...
'The Climate of Fear Is Unacceptable' - Ken Loach on I, Daniel Blake
6 min · 3,873 views today · Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning film I, Daniel Blake tells the story of a man who is denied disability benefit after a heart attack and who is then subsequently caught in a...
Men Loving Men
Bianca Vivion · 2,677 views today · When my father was seven he and his best friend Phil cut their index fingers open and placed them together to create a “blood pact” that they would always be brothers. To this...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 2,232 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Three Massive Mergers - Millions for One Bank and a Disaster for Food, Water, and Climate
Wenonah Hauter · 2,191 views today · In addition to advising on all three mega-mergers, Credit Suisse is playing a big role behind the scenes of the Dakota Access pipeline.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 2,083 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Writers Tom Hayden and Naomi Klein Talk About Journalism and Activism
27 min · 1,755 views today · Author, Activist and Former California State Senator Tom Hayden talks in depth with the author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein, about the state of the fourth...
Social Geographer Shows How Much of You is Determined by Where You're From
3 min · 1,542 views today · The Professor of Geography examines social inequality and the geodemographics of the UK, using maps created by Oliver O'Brien (UCL, CASA) in 2012 and updated in 2015. You can...
Grow Heathrow: Residents Resisting Eviction Over 3rd Runway
4 min · 1,118 views today · On March 1st 2010 Transition Heathrow members swooped on an abandoned market garden site in Sipson; one of the villages to be completely tarmacked to make way for a third...
A Beautiful Reflection on What It Means to Be Human
8 min · 1,099 views today · Hello! We are Oh Wonder, a musical duo from London. We believe that everyone is equal. We are all human. We all deserve the world. And we can build that equality by sharing...
Heartbreaking Animation Reveals Plight of Animals Under Threat of Extinction
3 min · 1,021 views today · This stunning and heartbreaking animation gives voice to animals under threat from human activity. Made as part of the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, it features a...
Speaking Out Against Australia's Unforgiving Refugee Policy
42 min · 898 views today · The Forgotten Children: More than a hundred child refugees are stuck in asylum limbo on the island of Nauru as a result of Australia's harsh and unsympathetic border policies...
How Big Banks Launder Money and Get Away With It
9 min · 745 views today · 'I wrote about how money laundering was actually done... they spiked it.' Parliamentary Candidate David Malone was a popular second choice in the UK Green Party leadership...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 730 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Why I Didn't Vote Trump or Hillary
Joe Brewer · 619 views today ·   This is my ballot. It arrived in the mail where I live in Washington state — and I’ve already sent it back to the elections committee. Note how I didn’t vote for either...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 543 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Swarens: Gov. Pence's Reputation Bruised by Just IN debacle