The Center for Public Integrity has evaluated all 50 states and found them lacking on issues of integrity and ethics, giving Alaska the highest grade of "C," while failing 11 other states.
Each state was assessed the same, by measuring the states on 13 separate criterion, ranging from openness and access to records to management of state pensions.
What this study really tells us is one of two things: 1) the states have a long way to go to improve their credibility and ethics with their citizens, or 2) the study measured the states on too stringent of a criteria.
Most people seem to implicitly believe that our government needs to be more accountable. From the "Occupy" movement to "Black Lives Matter," dozens of groups have sprung up in the past several years to combat very real problems that people are facing.Fueling this is a growing number of politicians and public servants who wind up behind bars -- such as former U.S. House Speaker
Dennis Hastert, who recently pleaded guilty to corruption charges, or former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich, serving a 14-year prison sentence for trying to sell President Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder.
And while these are just a couple of examples of high profile cases, this happens very frequently at the state, county, and local levels as well.
People have a reason to distrust the government.
But they also have a reason to distrust the media.
Life exists on a bell-curve. In almost all situations, average characteristics or behaviors gravitate toward the center of the curve, while exceptions wind up as outliers.
If the average grade is a "D" and by most standards we consider a "C" as average (in a true bell-curve grading system), then the study is skewed to make it look worse than it really is.
It takes advantage of the A-F system to give out mostly "D's," one "C," and 11 "F's," because it's misleading -- normalized to the bell-curve we would have mostly "C's," one "B," then "D's" and "F's."
Most Americans aren't going to see the states sitting at "average" as a good thing, and it would have given added credibility to the study.
So in the end, America really needs to work on its ethics problems, and the media really needs to work on not sensationalizing every single report.
Because jumping through the hoops of sensationalism only means that the problems never get addressed.