Hawaii Reporter Can Dish It Out, But Can’t Take Criticism-Disputing a Report on the Akaka Bill Debate

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”’Editor’s note: Mr. Klein, a former state Supreme Court Justice who now works for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a taxpayer funded organization that advocates for Hawaiian rights, accuses Hawaii Reporter and its editor Malia Zimmerman of being unwilling to publish his letter in full — a letter he just sent yesterday afternoon. The tagline at the end of every guest editorial published in Hawaii Reporter states, Hawaii Reporter publishes every letter and oped that is sent in full, as long as it is clear. Mr. Klein accuses editor Malia Zimmerman of intentionally distorting an interview conducted by National Public Radio with OHA Trustee Haunani Apoliona in her “Political Tittle-tattle: News and Entertainment from Hawaii’s Political Arena – July 22, 2005” column. To set the record straight – there was no distortion. The full interview as it was aired on National Public Radio is here: “OHA’s Haunani Apoliona Discusses a Bill that Would Grant Native Hawaiians the Same Legal Status as Many Native American Tribes” Every word is accurately reported. The only error Hawaii Reporter made was the final sentence in the interview was unintentionally attributed to the interviewer rather than Ms. Apoliona. Hawaii Reporter regrets the error pointed out yesterday by OHA and has issued a correction. However, Mr. Klein, rather than issue a simple request for a correction or letter to the editor, issued a press release to all Hawaii media attacking Hawaii Reporter. Hawaii Reporter’s response to that is in a separate story. (See “Former Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Makes Outrageous and False Claims About Hawaii Reporter”) Finally, in response to his claim that Hawaii Reporter readers do not know that Malia Zimmerman is the vice president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, that fact is disclosed prominently in a number of columns published over the past three years in Hawaii Reporter, at the top of Malia Zimmerman’s bio, and front and center on the Grassroot Institute Web site. Without further delay, here is Mr. Klein’s letter in full.”’

Your July 22 edition of ”’Hawaii Reporter”’ makes one wonder how low you will stoop to defeat the Akaka bill.


Under the demeaning headline: “NPR Interview: OHA’s Position on Akaka Resembles Rendition of ‘Who’s on First'” the online journal takes a cheap shot at Haunani Apoliona, chair of the Board of Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, by deliberately distorting a transcript of a radio interview. Here’s what “Hawaii Reporter” reported.

”’During a radio interview this Wednesday on a National Public Radio show entitled “Day by Day,” Haunani Apoliona, as a representative for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, was not too persuasive on why the Akaka Bill should be passed. The interview went as follows:”’

ALEX CHADWICK: How might things be different in Hawaii if this bill passes for those native Hawaiians and for others who live there?


CHADWICK: I think there are white Hawaiians who say this is …

Ms. APOLIONA: Oh, non-Hawaiians, you mean.

CHADWICK: Non-Hawaiians.


CHADWICK: I beg your pardon.




CHADWICK: They consider themselves Hawaiians.

Ms. APOLIONA: Yes, there are people who reside in Hawaii that call themselves from Hawaii or Hawaiians.

CHADWICK: We’re speaking about native Hawaiians.

Again, it bears repeating that this was under a “who’s on first” headline. But check NPR’s transcript of the interview, and the audio
version available online from NPR. Trustee Apoliona was the one who
said “We’re speaking about Native Hawaiians.” Not the reporter, Alex Chadwick. And it was a professional interview, not comical in any sense.

By way of background, Trustee Apoliona was trying to explain to Mr. Chadwick that his phrase “white Hawaiians” was not normally used in Hawaii. Unlike Mainland states, where California residents are sometimes referred to as Californians, Nebraska residents are Nebraskans, etc., Trustee Apoliona was explaining that “Hawaiians” are those from the host culture, in other words those whose ancestors were in Hawaii prior to Western contact. If “Hawaii Reporter” had included a couple of additional paragraphs of the NPR interview, your readers would have seen that.

Instead, ”’Hawaii Reporter”’ knew that ending the piece with reporter Chadwick seeming to educate Trustee Apoliona about Native Hawaiians would make it match your headline and your editorial slant against the Akaka bill.

We have come to expect that ”’Hawaii Reporter”’ never allows the facts to get in the way of the story, and in this case deliberately distorted a transcript to belittle the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

I wonder how many readers know that the editor and president of ”’Hawaii Reporter”’ is the vice president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, the so-called “think tank” whose aim is to defeat the Akaka bill.

We doubt you will print this letter in full, as “Hawaii Reporter” loves to dish it out, but can’t take it, especially when they are caught doing something that would get any legitimate “reporter” fired.

”’Robert Klein, a former Hawaii Supreme Court justice, is now on contract with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as its Board Counsel. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a taxpayer funded organization that publishes newsletters on Hawaiian issues, advocates for Hawaiian issues, and distributes government funded grants to Hawaiians.”’

”’HawaiiReporter.com reports the real news, and prints all editorials submitted, even if they do not represent the viewpoint of the editors, as long as they are written clearly. Send editorials to”’ mailto:Malia@HawaiiReporter.com