The Register-Guard hammers Gordon Smith

It's not often that you see a major regional newspaper take on an incumbent U.S. Senator with such harsh and unforgiving language.

The Eugene Register-Guard:

The problem with Sen. Gordon Smith's defense of the Bush administration's 2002 decision to divert Klamath Lake water for irrigation isn't that the Oregon Republican is wobbly on the facts. It's that he's willing to bend and selectively omit the facts to justify ideologically driven political positions.

With multiple examples, the R-G calls Smith on the carpet for deliberately mis-stating facts:

Smith's version of Klamath Basin history conveniently omitted some key facts. They include a California Department of Fish and Game report that said a number of factors - including warm temperatures, low flows and crowding - caused conditions conducive to gill disease and other bacterial infections. "River flow and the volume of water in the fish kill area were atypically low," the report said, noting that river flow was the sole factor controlled by humans.

In a Saturday story by The Register-Guard's David Steves, commercial fishing advocate Glenn Spain aptly observed that Smith's simplistic attribution of the dead fish to gill disease "is sort of like saying lung cancer kills smokers, not smoking."

Smith's assertion that the fish kill happened 18 months after the diversion is also off base. The die-off occurred between Sept. 19 and Oct. 1 - five months after the March 29 reopening of the headgates.

Smith's characterization of the diversion decision as a choice between sucker fish and irrigation for farmers also was off the mark. A 2001 biological opinion by federal scientists prohibited the release of Klamath water for irrigation for the protection of sucker fish and coho, both of which are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Will the rest of the state's media join the Register-Guard? Will they start calling Smith on his selective omission and mis-stating of facts?

Over at, the DPO hopes you might write a few letters-to-the-editor - and help make the case to the media.


  • (Show?)

    Good to see BlueOregon give this a further boost. Loaded Orygun had a piece on this Register Guard article on Tuesday. As you point out, will the rest of the media follow through on calling Smith on his lying and fabrications? It certainly an open question.

    For anyone who wants to help take this issue to people offline as well, we have downloadable and printable flyers available for free use and dissemination here.

  • Gus Frederick (unverified)

    As an attendee of Sen. Wyden's town hall the other day, (as well as many others over the years), I was struck with the obvious differences between our two Senators. I don't agree with Wyden on everything, (Israel & Iran for example), but the fact that I can drive to Portland, and sit myself down in a chair and have MY Senator standing several feet from me to take questions, comments and brickbats was indeed refreshing.

    The only "Town Halls" Smith holds require a $1,000 a plate or more donation. And if you try and approach him, you run the risk of arrest. We really need to get that guy back where he belongs: Freezing peas.

  • byard pidgeon (unverified)

    I've been living in Klamath Falls almost 10 years, and was here during the water battles. The level of animosity toward "government" and the venomous invective directed at all Native Americans during this time was a bit frightening, especially when the local police and sheriff's departments did little or nothing to contain or restrain the militants (and in fact, some law enforcement personnel were inciting unrest). There were numerous "outside agitators", ranging from right wing NGO lawyers to out and out vigilantes, all egged on by right wing radio and mailings. Now, where did all the impetus for this come from?...a spontaneous uprising, or something orchestrated and manipulated by the zealots in the Bush administration? I think we have a goodly part of the answers, and for Gordon Smith to defend the zealotry and deny the illegality is, as usual for so many of his stances in support of the administration, despicable.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Perhaps the next time Gordon Smith wants to steal water form endangered fish runs, he can ship some of his pea processing refrigeration equipment down to cool the Klamath River.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Tom Civiletti | Aug 16, 2007 5:11:52 PM Perhaps the next time Gordon Smith wants to steal water form endangered fish runs, he can ship some of his pea processing refrigeration equipment down to cool the Klamath River.

    Or more to the point, ship those frozen peas to the tables of all the fishermen and the communities they live in who are out of work because of his fish-kill actions.

  • Samuel John Klein (unverified)

    Wowee. So that's where The Big O's stones live in Eugene at the Register-Guard.

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