MAINSTREAM MEDIA GETS IT WRONG AGAIN
by Sharon Rondeau
On Friday, an AP article by Jacques Billeaud, who has covered Arpaio previously, made the same error which Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier made in early January as Arpaio left office following six consecutive terms as Maricopa County sheriff.
Maricopa County is the fourth most highly-populated county in the U.S. but ranks first in growth nationwide, according to U.S. Census Bureau data published on March 23, 2017. Its population currently exceeds that of 23 states.
The city of Phoenix, located within Maricopa County, has its own police force, as Billeaud noted in his latest article when identifying Arpaio’s successor, retired Phoenix Police Department Sergeant Paul Penzone.
A partial description of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) reads:
Who we are: We are a law enforcement agency, headed by an elected Sheriff, Paul Penzone, which serves and protects the unincorporated areas of Maricopa County as well as several contract cities. We are part of the Maricopa County government system.
How large is the county? About 9226 square miles
How many employees work for the MCSO? Approximately 3300
How long is the Sheriff’s term? All sheriffs in Arizona are elected to serve a four-year term
In its expansive article about Maricopa County, Wikipedia states, “The county’s dominant political figure for two decades (from 1993 to 2017) was Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had dubbed himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff” and gained national notoriety for his flamboyant and often controversial practices and policies.”
On December 15, 2016, Billeaud correctly identified Arpaio as Maricopa County Sheriff in his report of a press conference held earlier that day in which the final results of a five-year criminal investigation into the long-form birth certificate image posted on the White House website were released.
The image, uploaded to whitehouse.gov on April 27, 2011, bears the name “Barack Hussein Obama II” and was said to have been taken from a certified copy of Obama’s original birth record held by the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH).
In August 2011, Arpaio commissioned the all-volunteer investigation led by former detective Mike Zullo to investigate claims by graphics experts that the image is fraudulent. Following the December 15 presser, Billeaud claimed that Zullo and Arpaio’s findings and those of two forensic experts that the image is a forgery were “debunked,” although citing no sources.
Following each of the three press conferences held on the subject between March 2012 and December 15, the mainstream media skeptically and at times erroneously reported the findings online but, with the exception of a Phoenix television station, provided no on-air coverage. Having conducted no investigations of their own into Zullo’s conclusions, major media have been unable to cite any sources “debunking” Zullo’s reports.
Zullo had first stated at an initial press conference held on March 1, 2012 that the birth certificate image is a “computer-generated forgery.” Also found to be fraudulent is Obama’s Selective Service registration form, which Zullo later described as a “hard-copy forgery.”
Update, 6:22 p.m. EDT: After this story went to press, The Post & Email discovered that yet another AP article without a byline published last August referred to Arpaio as the “Metro Phoenix Sheriff.”