SPOKANE, Wash. — A local representative’s profanity-laced response to a Spokane journalist who wrote a story about her social media activity is receiving national attention.
A story published in the Inlander on Monday, Sept. 14 details a voicemail and phone call made by Washington State Rep. Jenny Graham, who is a Republican representing Spokane County’s District 6, to reporter Daniel Walters after he published a story in late August about the lawmaker “unwittingly” linking to conspiracy sites on her Facebook page.
In a voicemail published by the Inlander, Graham calls Walters a "lying piece of s---" and warns him not to ever call her again.
“Do you understand? Don't you ever — and you tell your buddies not to call me either. It's on. If you think for one minute you're going to pull this crap and you're going to walk away from it, you're nuts,” Graham is heard saying in the recording.
When Walters called Graham back, she called him a profane name, he said. After the voicemail, Walters said Graham called him things like "disgusting," "hateful" "sleazy" and a "lying piece of dung” in more than a dozen Facebook posts.
Walters said he still has not heard back from Graham weeks after asking her to discuss her concerns and what she believed the story got wrong.
The Washington Post published a story on Tuesday reporting on Walters’ articles and Graham’s response to him.
Walters spent almost 80 minutes interviewing Graham and informed the state legislator that many of the stories she shared on Facebook were published on conspiracy theory websites, the Washington Post reported. Walters said Graham told him she was unaware of this at the time, and that she didn’t necessarily believe these things but “wanted her constituents to discuss them.”
“Our article wasn’t making allegations that she was a conspiracy theorist,” Walters told the Washington Post.
Instead, the story was meant to show that local politicians are promoting inaccurate articles on Facebook, the Washington Post reported.
“A lot of people don’t trust the general media, even local media,” Walters told the Washington Post. “If they see elected officials bashing media and promoting some of these other sites as a good alternative, that is something that can put people on a dangerous path.”
KREM reported in June 2020 about a Facebook post that was fact-checked and marked as false by Facebook in late May. The post that showed two quotes attributed to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been leading the U.S. response to COVID-19, about the drug Hydroxychloroquine was marked as "False Information" by the social media platform.
Graham told KREM the article appeared to be factual and she was surprised to see the fact-check from Facebook.
"There wasn’t anything in there with [Fauci's] direct quotes that would lead me to believe that was an incorrect post,” she said.
Walters also told the Washington Post that he wrote the story to set the record straight rather than shame Graham for cursing at him or posting about him on Facebook.
“If anyone says it’s a lie, I take it incredibly seriously,” Walters said. “All we have is trust in this profession.”
Graham has not responded publicly to the Inlander’s reporting as of Tuesday afternoon.
In a text message to a KREM's Casey Decker, Graham said she is not available for local interviews and thanked him for reaching out to her. She did not provide additional comment.