'Texas Tribune' co-founder, seeker of truth grills East Texas elected officials

'Texas Tribune' co-founder, seeker of truth grills East Texas elected officials
"The Texas Tribune" focuses on state issues and public policy issues. (Source: KTRE Staff)
"The Texas Tribune" focuses on state issues and public policy issues. (Source: KTRE Staff)
"The Texas Tribune" co-founder & CEO Evan Smith, former Texas Monthly editor-in-chief provided tough questioning. (Source: KTRE Staff)
"The Texas Tribune" co-founder & CEO Evan Smith, former Texas Monthly editor-in-chief provided tough questioning. (Source: KTRE Staff)

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - East Texas legislators were put in the "hot seat" on Wednesday by the highly respected web newspaper, "The Texas Tribune."

The interviewer was the media outlet's co-founder, Evan Smith.

The former "Texas Monthly" editor-in-chief is respected by his guests, even when he's asking the tough questions. Smith wants Texans to be informed about public policy, so he respectfully puts politicians in the hot seat before their constituents.

During the interview. Smith asked, "Do you support that?"

However, direct questioning doesn't always receive a direct answer.

"Representative, you didn't actually answer my question," Smith said.

In a traveling series, "The Texas Tribune" engages elected officials to go on the record about matters of statewide concern.

"We started in '09 as a reaction to the decline in the coverage of policy and politics," Smith said. And it's good for East Texas to hear from these guys and say this is what I believe."

With not a note in hand, Smith skillfully quizzed state rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, and state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, on health care, education and transportation.

"Why did you only appropriate a billion seven?" Smith asked. "Why not actually pay the full tab?"

Justification came from Nichols, the Transportation Committee chair. The senator knows his

"It is an entity that political gurus as well as members watch and read," Nichols said. "I check it about every day.

In just five years, the nonprofit media outlet earned its reputation of fairness by members of all parties. The former "Texas Monthly" editor even accepts quickness near to his own.

In one interchange, Smith asked, "Why haven't we solved the problem, pre-Obama?"

"I wasn't in the Legislature," Nichols replied

Laughing, Smith said, "Good one, senator."

Smith's pursuit for the truth is timely. Ben Bradlee, the "Washington Post" editor famous for overseeing the Watergate investigation, died Tuesday. The journalists of Smith's generation said the pursuit of truth changed their lives. It did for Smith.

"And at the end of the day, the pursuit of truth is the most noble work you can do," Smith said.

Copyright 2014 KTRE. All rights reserved.