County Chair-elect Jason Davis wants apology and correction from Daytona newspaper

Volusia Tax Reform co-founder Margie Patchett: New face of government is being 'marginalized' through negative press coverage

News-Journal story on arrest four yuears agoJason Davis in big News-Journal headline The Daytona Beach News-Journal published a story four years ago on a fraud arrest charge dropped long ago against Jason Davis, yet it was presented as a big story earlier this month as shown in the inset snapshot.

DAYTONA BEACH -- County Chair-elect Jason Davis said the Daytona Beach News-Journal owes him an apology and a front-page retraction above the fold where it published a story Dec. 6, with a sensational headline referencing a decade-old arrest on a fraud charge, something that he told the newspaper it already reported four years ago.

Though Seminole County prosecutors dropped the charge against him well before his ex-wife was convicted of stealing $44,000 from her employer, which he told the newspaper it had reported four years ago when he was a congressional candidate, and therefore not news, The News-Journal questioned his veracity in the story 12 days ago, claiming "that wasn't reflected in a search of News-Journal archives."

But Headline Surfer did a search of the News-Journal's print archives by paying the $2.95 credit card fee and within 2 minutes came across a story published March 10, 2008, on the News-Journal's local section front with the headline, Incumbent Feeney no sure thing for House seat. 

Davis lost in the primary to then-incumbent Feeney, who lost in the general election to Suzanne Kosmas. The story, written by former longtime staff writer John Bozzo, that profiled all three candidates, along with the information on Davis' past that the News-Journal presented Dec. 6 as big news.

The specific reference to Davis' past was described in that story as follows: The Seminole County Sheriff's Office arrested Davis in 2001 on felony fraud charges. In 2004, the state dropped charges against him. Davis said unbeknownst to him, his wife was involved in the illegal activity.

No response from newspaper's editor

Headline Surfer published a story Sunday night with its findings, after the 24/7 Internet newspaper sent an e-mail to Pat Rice, the News-Journal's editor, pointing out it found the story and asked for an explanation why Davis' veracity was called into question about a story had been published and readily accessible on the newspaper's own archive database.

The Internet newspaper's inquiry to Rice has gone unanswered.

Davis said he was pleased that the only other local competing media outlet (Headline Surfer) had reported the story existed, which showed he was being truthful. And as such, Davis believes he's owed an apology and a published correction where the Dec. 6 ran under the headline, New Volusia Chair Davis had 2001 fraud arrest; charge later dropped.

Daytona News-Journal correction policyThe snapshot graphic at left details the News-Journal's corrections policy.

"They're not going to admit they screwed up," Davis said Monday. "They're going to have to come around sooner or later. Unless it has to do with county business, I'm not going to talk to them. They owe me an apology. Out of common decency, now that it has been point out, they should put out a formal apology and at least a blurb correcting what they reported."

"They're not going to admit they screwed up," Davis said Monday. "They're going to have to come around sooner or later. Unless it has to do with county business, I'm not going to talk to them. They owe me an apology. Out of common decency, now that it has been point out, they should put out a formal apology and at least a blurb correcting what they reported."

The arrest was among a series of stories published by the News-Journal since Thanksgiving following his overwhelming victory in the Nov. 6 general election over former county councilman Carl Persis of Ormond Beach.

Margie Patchett of Port Orange, a founding member of Volusia Tax Reform said she believes Davis is "being marginalized" by the News-Journal and she believes that in the process, she, too, is being made to look bad.

Patchett said she was quoted in two consecutive stories that had in hindsight she believes allowed the News-Journal additional voices to appear critical of Davis. 

Patchett said she is disgusted that the county's daily newspaper of record won't acknowledge that it dropped the ball in reporting it's  Dec. 6 story that presented Davis in a negative light for an old arrest that she wonders if its reporters and editors even bothered to check as to whether it had already been reported.

"Just as Jason Davis' opponents didn't do their homework during the campaign, apparently the Daytona Beach News-Journal isn't doing its homework either," Patchett said.

"Just as Jason Davis' opponents didn't do their homework during the campaign, apparently the Daytona Beach News-Journal isn't doing its homework either," Patchett said.

Intense coverage of Davis begins Thanksgiving afternoon

Jason Davis speaks with Headline Surfer Publisher Henry FrederickCounty-Chair-elect Jason Davis is interviewed on camera by Headline Surfer at its New Smyrna Beach home office for a Thanksgiving message along with discussion of issues like his interest in cutting the county gas tax.

On Thanksgiving morning, Headline Surfer posted a video interview it had done with Davis the previous night that gave him the spotlight to deliver a public holiday greeting. During the interview, Davis discussed several cost-cutting measures, including a 5 cent reduction of the maximum 12 cents the county levies for the gas tax.

That same afternoon, the News-Journal posted a breaking news story online with the headline, Gas tax cut on table with new Volusia chair Davis.

The story was critical of Davis' proposal with quotes attributed to five other county officials critical and no attempt shown by the newspaper that it had talked to those who supported Davis' proposal. Among the voices was County Manager Jim Dinneen quoted as saying, "This is the one that keeps me up at night."

The story attributed "a recent council discussion on shortfalls in transportation funding," as to when Dinneen said the quote, that had him adding, "This scares me, where we're going."

The story was repeated the following morning in the regular newspaper.

Then that Sunday, the News-Journal published a banner front page story headlined, Volusia's 'worst road' to get makeover.

With the story was a picture showing a big pothole on Orange Avenue in Daytona Beach, which is actually a city-maintained road.

Quoted in the story along with Dinneen are City Manager Jim Chisholm and former Mayor Glenn Ritchey, all three News-Journal staples for quotes. Ritchey's successor, Mayor Derrick Henry, isn't mentioned nor is Davis. For that matter neither is any reference by Dinneen or the others in the story as to whether the county gas tax was contributing to planned repairs.

News-Journal editor takes Davis to task in column 

In the same edition, Rice the editor, wrote a column headlined, Davis should quietly back away from reducing gasoline tax. Rice made no bones about where the newspaper stands: "Davis' first test will be to show whether he has the political skill to back away from his campaign promise to decrease the county's tax on gasoline."

He added in part, "Cutting the county gas tax is a proposal that sounds simple but isn't. It's a proposal that is popular — but probably catastrophic for the county's already-stretched road maintenance program."

But Rice didn't back up his argument with any factual reporting, by naming even a single road project.

Then Rice advised, "Davis should use the maneuver many a seasoned politician has employed over the years; he should quietly back away from the notion of reducing the gasoline tax right now. Maybe later, but not now."

The News-Journal editor was emphatic that should Davis proceed, he "will quickly learn that the county chair position is a leadership position that can become largely ceremonial. In the end, it's really just one of seven council votes."

News-Journal Editor Pat Rice The News-Journal editor was emphatic that should Davis proceed, he "will quickly learn that the county chair position is a leadership position that can become largely ceremonial. In the end, it's really just one of seven council votes."

The newspaper switched gears with yet another front page story on Davis, six days later, under the headline, New chair lines up Volusia advisers 

The Saturday, Dec. 1 story states from the opening paragraph, Davis won't get to appoint his own cabinet like a president — that's not how the county works.

The story then purports without attribution that, Davis has assembled what might be the next-best thing: a team of advisers who'll be helping him make the transition from outsider and political unknown to the new face of Volusia's government. That team includes one of his recent opponents: Ted Doran, the Daytona Beach attorney who also ran against former Councilman Carl Persis for the chairman's seat.

Davis said he told the News-Journal that he had talked to an array of veteran politicians besides Doran, including former County Chair Frank Bruno, who was term-limited and instead ran unsuccessfully for a state senate seat won by Dorothy Hukill.

Davis is then quoted in the story with the following: "He's a lawyer, and a good one," Davis said of Doran, who finished third and out of contention in the August primary. "Just because we ran a campaign fighting each other on the campaign trail doesn't mean we can't have a coffee or a beer together."

While the story implies Davis said this in the context of reporting on a so-called advisory group, the county-chair elect said that quote was lifted by the News-Journal from a comment he made in a candidate debate with Doran and Persis prior to the Aug. 14 primary.

While the story implies Davis said this in the context of reporting on a so-called advisory group, the county-chair elect said that quote was lifted by the News-Journal from a comment he made in a candidate debate with Doran and Persis prior to the Aug. 14 primary.

And five days later, Thursday, Dec. 6, the News-Journal published the sensational aforementioned front page story above the fold with the eye-catching headline, New Volusia Chair Davis had 2001 fraud arrest; charge later dropped.

Latest story makes personal dig on car Davis drives

Daytona Beach News-Journal a corporate member of Tiger Bay ClubThe snapshot graphic at left shows a partial listing of 'corporate members' of the Tiger Bay Club, including the Daytona Beach News-Journal along with three of its top executives: Publisher Ron Wallace, Editor Pat Rice and Marketing Director Lori-Campbell Baker.

The most recent story on Davis was published Thursday with the headline, Davis speaks to the club that snubbed him.

The News-Journal started the story with Davis' reference in speaking to the club to being purposely excluded from a private debate during the primary in which opponents Persis and Doran were invited, but Davis was told he wasn't welcomed.

What the News-Journal did not divulge in this story or the stories leading up to that debate coverage is that the newspaper is listed among the "corporate members" of the exclusive Tiger Bay Club, along with the listing of three executives: Lori Campbell-Baker, Pat Rice and Ron Wallace, marketing director, editor and publisher, respectively.

The story was straightforward in highlighting Davis' prepared speech.

But in a reference to Davis' continued pledge to looking at cutting the gas tax, the News-Journal included the following personal dig in the middle of the story: (For now, though, Davis is doing his part to increase gas tax revenues — he arrived at the Yacht Club in a new Chevrolet Camaro convertible, not his motorcycle.)

But in a reference to Davis' continued pledge to looking at cutting the gas tax, the News-Journal included the following personal dig in the middle of the story: (For now, though, Davis is doing his part to increase gas tax revenues — he arrived at the Yacht Club in a new Chevrolet Camaro convertible, not his motorcycle.)

Davis said he's gotten an education in how the News-Journal operates, which he added is a "slap in the face" to the overwhelmingly support he received with his 20,000-plus vote plurality over the seasoned candidate in Persis, which makes him even more resolute in preparing for the top county post.

By county charter, Davis can officially drop the word "elect" from the title  county chair on Jan. 1. He'll be sworn in on Jan. 10, largely ceremonial.

Editor's Note: In the interest of full disclosure, Headline Surfer did not endorse Jason Davis for county chair in the Nov. 6 general election. The 24/7 Internet newspaper publicly endorsed Carl Persis. 

Related coverage:

The Roundtable: 

Previous coverage:

County chair-elect was truthful in telling News-Journal it had published story 4 years ago on dropped charge against him
 
Volusia County Chair-elect Jason Davis speaks exclusively with Headline Surfer about his Thanksgiving plans and future
 
The Sunday Conversation: County Chair-elect Jason Davis reflects on win as new face of government
 
Rise of Republican Party in Volusia County demonstrated in Nov. 6 election
 
The Sunday Conversation: 'Boots on the ground' is the MO for county chair candidate Jason Davis
Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.