From the February 2001 Idaho Observer:
The IO responds to Bonner Bee yellow journalism
SANDPOINT -- On January 24, 2001, exactly two years after two Bonner County sheriff's deputies came to his house late at night allegedly suspicious that he had commited a misdemeanor vandalism and shot him, Rex Prewitt, 44, filed a civil complaint in district court.
Rather than simply write the news story, The Bonner County Daily Bee chose to mention the filing under the headline, Prewitt has violent past.
The story, written by Keith Kinnaird, opened with the lead, A former Dover resident suing local law officers for nearly $2 million was convicted of an execution-style murder as a teenager. Rex Allen Prewitt, 44, is serving a seven-year sentence in an Idaho prison for allegedly pulling a gun on Bonner County Sheriff's deputies in January 1999. Prewitt was shot by a deputy in the confrontation and now claims his civil rights were violated.
Prewitt is no stranger to violence. When Prewitt was 16, he was sentenced to life in prison in 1973 for robbing and murdering an 18-year-old for a Ford Pinto and $42.
Don Harkins, editor of The Idaho Observer, has spent hundreds of hours cross referencing official documents and interviewing witnesses. It is apparent that Kinnaird has not. Harkins responded with a letter to the editor which, to the Bee's credit, was printed.
There are 17 known fallacies in applied logic. One of them is called attacks ad hominem. It was the tactic used by Keith Kinnaird in his January 27, 2001 article regarding Rex Prewitt. To follow Kinnaird's logic, because Prewitt, 44, served 13 years in prison for a murder he committed as a troubled youth, it is okay for the government to shoot innocent people and send them back to prison even though they have already paid their debt to society, Harkins wrote.
In the yellowest sort of way, Kinnaird attempted to paint a picture in the minds of Bonner County citizens that Prewitt deserved to be shot because he is a violent man who did time for murder.
The truth is that since that violent act 27 years ago, Prewitt has never been in trouble. He was paroled early fom prison where the record shows he was a model prisoner who learned several trades, has owned his own jewelry store, his own homes and property and became a husband and father that is loved by his friends and family. His employers trust and respect him.
Harkins offered to share his documents and insight into this tragedy with Bee Editor Kerry Miller. So far, the Bee has not taken Harkins up on his offer.
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