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Heard dubs news outlets as 'lust-for-drama media'

The senator made the comments during a discussion over transparency at the state Child Welfare Office.

OREGON LEGISLATURE - Sen. Dallas Heard, R-RoseburgOregon Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Roseburg, recently blamed the media for contributing to a "shame and blame culture" directed at child welfare workers at the Oregon Department of Human Services.

His comment followed a discussion in the Senate Committee on Human Services about an article by Molly Young of The Oregonian in late November concerning the agency's failure to give timely reports on what led to the deaths of children about whom reports of abuse had previously been made to DHS.

"Our society seems to be becoming more and more reactionary to what I consider a very shallow, self-righteous, lust-for-drama media," Heard said. "It's difficult for me to believe those individuals … who write these stories care about children or the quality of legislation when they do not even reach out to our directors to actually get the full side of the story."

Heard was referring to allegations that Young did not call DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht before publishing the story.

In fact, Young had complained that an agency spokeswoman had required her to put her questions in a public records request, said Sen. Sara Gelser, chairwoman of the human services committee.

"We really need to start demanding more of these large publications," Heard continued. He didn't restrict his comments to The Oregonian. He also named CNN and Fox News.

"It doesn't really matter who it is," he said. "It really is kind of disgusting what they have become. … In this case I really feel like they are trying to push us against each other, and that is not helping our children."

While disagreeing with some of Young's choices in her coverage, Pakseresht admitted he could have done more to be responsive to the reporter's inquiries.

The human services director, who was born in Iran, seemed uncomfortable with the attack on the media. He noted that one thing that attracts immigrants to the United States is its freedom of expression and press.

"Media plays a huge role in our democracy," he said.