GRACE JANG TO REPORTERS: NOTHING TO SEE HERE, MOVE ALONG
The deputy chief of staff for Alaska’s governor is asking her former colleagues in the media to back off.
Back off of the story about Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott and his unwelcome “overtures” toward a young lady at the Alaska Federation of Natives Elders and Youth Conference.
Back off for the protection of the victim(s).
Back off for the sake of Mallott’s family.
Some things are better left unsaid.
Lt. Gov. Mallott was sent home from AFN on Tuesday and was forced to resign from elected office after a situation became known to the governor on Monday. AFN is the major Native organization that Mallott helped establish AFN in the mid-60s.
In a long and carefully crafted post on Facebook on Thursday evening, two days after the revelations about Mallott came to light, Deputy Chief of Staff Grace Jang said it had been a hard week for the governor, for her, and for the whole staff of the Governor’s Office.
Do us a favor, she said, in essence, in the press conference on Tuesday. Just go away. You owe us this one because we’ve been totally transparent for four years. Just give us this one. Please.
Jang, who was a broadcast journalist who covered Gov. Walker’s campaign and then became his communication director, defended the privacy of the lieutenant governor and his victim.
He has suffered enough, she implied. He’s a friend of so many and has such a great history, she said. He just fell down.
She did not acknowledge that the second-most powerful man in office in Alaska owes an explanation to the public about what happened, and if he doesn’t explain it, the governor should, at least through his surrogates.
The public has a right to know if something criminal happened, and without a full explanation, Alaskans will always wonder why such a man as Mallott just disappeared from public life in an instant.
But that’s not what Jang wants.
Jang wants it all swept under the rug by a willing press, to ensure that none of the details ever make it into the history books.
History will just show that Mallott simply quit and no one knew why, other than he said something “inappropriate.”
Jang just weeks ago helped craft a statement from the governor and Mallott that disparaged the reputation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh was accused of crimes such as attempted rape and arranging for gang rape, and his name and family’s name was dragged through the mud during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing.
But there was not a kind word from the Governor’s Office to defend the jurist.
This week she wrote that she misses joking with Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott. She misses the camaraderie of his presence.
“Sometimes leaders fall down,” she wrote. And because he resigned, he did the right thing. Therefore, he deserves privacy, she argued.
Here’s what Jang wrote in its entirety, as she admonished the press to step off:
“This has been a tough week.
“Tough for the woman whose unexpected conversation with an elected official led to a resignation. She worried she wouldn’t be believed; that her character and credibility would be undermined; that it would come down to her word against that of one of the most powerful men in the state.
“But she was spared all of that.
“Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott owned up to it. He took responsibility for his actions. He stepped down.
It’s been a tough week for Byron and his family, too. His wife, children and grandchildren are members of this community. They work with us, they go to school with us, they serve with us. One family member told me he has stayed off Facebook because of the hateful comments, the hurtful innuendos, the outright lies.
“It’s been a tough week for my boss and our whole team. We love, cherish and respect Byron. He made us laugh. He provided perspective. He advocated for voices not at the table. I miss seeing him in the office, hearing his stories and joking with him.
“Sometimes, leaders fall down. It’s what they do after the fall that defines who they are. Byron did the right thing; he did the honorable thing. Governor Walker stood by the man who has become his brother and his best friend, and he also stood by the woman and ensured her identity was protected.
“Yet, somehow, that’s not enough.
“Reporters want to know what was said to whom when and where. Giving those details jeopardizes the woman’s right to privacy. Each little piece of information lifts one more corner of the veil over her identity. As the victim of a traumatizing experience, she deserves to have her identity protected.
“Members of the media,
“During the past four years, I have defended your right to access to information and interviews. But I’m having a tough time with this one.
“As journalists, you have a choice.
“You can choose to elevate the discussion.
“You can choose to not carry water for those with a reckless disregard for facts.
“You can choose to add depth, provide context, and explain nuance.
“You can choose to not compromise the privacy of a victim’s identity.
“You can choose to not lend credence to fear- and hate-mongers.
“You can choose to engage and enlighten readers, viewers and listeners in a way that appeals to our better selves.
“We live in a very small state, where gossip and misinformation can destroy lives. Words matter.”
‘DON’T REPORT THE TRUTH TODAY, BUT ON MONDAY, PLEASE REPORT ON A BIG LIE’
Grace Jang is pleading for her boss and for her own job in her “Words matter” essay. Anyone who sees the situation differently is a hate-monger, she tries to reason. Hate-mongers are those who disagree, of course.
However, in appealing to “our better selves,” what Jang is not telling the public is this:
She knows something you don’t know.
Jang and Press Secretary Austin Baird are fully aware of a brutal hit job that has been prepared for the governor’s top opponent, Mike Dunleavy.
They know the details, they know when the ads are going to hit, and they’ve known it for some time. They know what is coming is not true.
On Monday, when the $100,000 in television ads hit the airwaves, Jang will be nowhere to be found defending the truth. She won’t make the call this weekend to call off the dogs.
She will say, “That’s the campaign, not the official side,” and while Mike Dunleavy is subjected to a smear unlike any that has ever hit Alaska politics, she will remain serene.
Does Must Read Alaska know the details of the smear campaign? Yes. And it is going to hit a new low.
Yet, there’s still time for the perpetrators of the smear to pull it back.
Must Read Alaska will hope the better angels of their nature prevail, but if the governor and his surrogates persist, we’ll look to the media to ask Grace Jang if she will denounce the lies.
We already know her answer: It’s not her problem.
DONNA WALKER SAYS ‘HE PAID THE PRICE’
After the press converged on Gov. Bill Walker at the end of the Resource Development Council debate on Thursday afternoon, First Lady Donna Walker finally intervened to protect Gov. Walker. She told the media, referring to Mallott:
“He paid the price — you can’t really get much more of a price out of a situation like this, stepped down from the second-highest job in the state,” she said. “And he and his family are suffering. This is a man whose, you know, outstanding career, so many accomplishments. The family is in grief. And we’re in grief with them.”
Nevermind the victim.
They’re not trying to protect the victim. They are trying to protect Byron Mallott. They’re trying to salvage what they can from their campaign.