In many ways today’s newspaper industry is like some Rube Goldberg contraption gone terribly awry. A collection of pay websites, digital and, oh yes, the actual print product. Newspapers change hands more often than Larry King exchanges wedding vows and, just like a King marriage, many are teetering on the edge of extinction.
Most of what passes for newspapers these days are embarrassingly partisan rags and feature, above all else, totally irresponsible right-wing opinion detritus hardly worth a second glance. U.S. dailies are little more than Republican propaganda sheets.
My local offering, the Spartanburg Herald Journal, is buried in yet another hot-potato exchange of ownership. It seems to be an every couple of years or so occurrence, locally and around the country. One Worcester, Massachusetts paper changed ownership 3 times in 16 months.
No matter the owner, the content stays true to the extremist line. Let me give you a flavor of what I’m stuck with as my primary local reading matter. Let’s start with three recent representative editorial page cartoons. We begin with a Dana Summers by-lined insult showing the president inking in the word “stupid” between the ‘the’ and ‘People’ in the “We the People…” preamble of the Constitution. The next cartoon acquired from the Sacramento Bee depicts a tree trunk (representing tree-hugging environmentalists) stuffed into the end of a pipe. The word “extremism” is etched into the tree trunk, and “jobs” printed on the pipe.
The last cartoon is the second Dana Summers contribution via the Tribune Content Agency. It’s titled “Porous Borders.” A bulldozer driven by the president has crashed through two fences. One marked “Separation of”, the other “Powers.” Summers conveniently ignores the fact that five days before the appearance of his partisan inking, the Senate failed to end the Democrats blockage of the Republican lawmakers favorite project, the Keystone XL pipeline. Included in that bill, Congress would usurp White House (executive) authority over the project. So, what Summers has misleadingly done is lay the onus of a proposed Legislative branch interference on the Executive branch.
Right-wing propagandists, George Will, Walter Williams, Michelle Malkin, Cal Thomas, Charles Krauthammer and Paul Greenberg (he describes the Affordable Care Act as an “elaborate gizmo”) show up all the time. Occasionally the paper will feature an obscure partisan from a distant land like Texas, as was the case with Cynthia Allen, a columnist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The only criteria for such an appearance is a column ripping Obama or any other high-profile Democrat. Her contribution was the familiar renouncing of the Affordable Care Act. To wit, in her words: “In fact, the opacity employed in drafting, passing and then marketing the law is one of the reasons why cynicism about Obamacare remains so high.” Propaganda catnip to the huge litter of Southern racists, Obama-baiting pussycats.
Clarence Page, a reasonable and objective progressive moderate will sneak in from time to time just to balance out the boatload of his opposite number.
As for Letters to the Editor, I have managed to get a few of my contributions printed in that space. Congressional Representative golden boy, Trey Gowdy, is off-limits however. Criticisms of Gowdy of even the most minor stripe rarely make it into Letters to the Editor.
The real censor is a local column by a guy who will allow awesomely misleading and deceptive right-wing contributions and refuse to print rebuttals of same. I should know; it’s happened to me over and over.
One of my rebuttals that was deep-sixed addressed a November 11th column by a writer who informed readers that according to a study by an academic, Dr. Martin Fiebert, from Southern California University, “men are victims of domestic violence at greater rates than women.” The good PhD surveyed more than 300 studies on domestic violence and found that women were more aggressive than men, especially within lesbian relationships.
Supposedly women’s physical viciousness is hidden by supporters of the Violence Against Women Act so VAWA programs can continue to be funded.
Knowing my chances for publication of a refutation were near zero, I nonetheless sent in hundreds of words in opposition after researching this obviously bogus take on what the studies and numbers were really about. Here is my response in one block as the column is not written in paragraphs:
“To read a November 11th column from a fellow from Gaffney, that suggests that women are like a pack of wild dogs just waiting to commit “violence” on their unsuspecting male prey (WAP! POW!) was eye-opening to say the least. Of course these women were characterized as feminists, apparently a goodly number mired in the “violence” of female/female relationships. Darn those liberal lesbians! The core premise was that contrary to women being the victims of violence, “The truth is that men are victims of domestic violence at greater rates than women.” The writer attributed his “facts” to an assessment by a Dr. Martin Fiebert at Southern California University of more than 300 studies of domestic violence. The PhD supposedly concluded that women were more aggressive (violent) than men. Erroneous fact number 1: Fiebert was a faculty member of Cal State Long Beach at the time of the study. Erroneous-fact number 2: There were not 300 studies on domestic violence. The breakdown included, 117 scholarly investigations, 94 empirical studies and 23 reviews and/or analysis. There are also a couple critical caveats here that change the whole tenor of the story. The academic inquiries were conducted 15 years ago. Many references date back to the mid-1980’s. The basic group that was studied might be of interest as well; college kids, even high school students. There were exceptions, but a number of those cases examined involved dating and/or boyfriend/girlfriend experiences. Yes, the male was occasionally smacked on the kisser, and likely for the same reason, but rarely was there physical injury. When struck by a man, there was the strong likelihood of injury to the female victim. Fiebert admitted that most of the female “violence” was, by definition, of the emotional kind; yelling, screaming and demeaning words. My challenge to our Gaffney friend; give us the latest domestic physical violence facts from last year, or even the last decade. And for your next piece, please include the salient facts of the dates of the studies and the primary subjects. Otherwise, it would be wise to update your research. If it’s objective, the conclusions will be the reverse of what you would have us believe. All domestic violence is concerning, but to deal with the problem, objectivity is a must.”
This response failed to pass the muster for publication. This is outright censorship, obviously blessed by the high-ups at the paper. Whenever I send something in, I’m told to source everything, right down to the last comma. And yet, if it’s misleading, deceptive right-wing pap, it goes sailing through, usually as the lead contribution.
Now you know what it’s like to live in a land of Republican make believe. You also know why people vote as foolishly as they do since the media makes damn sure that only extremists are given opinion columns. Real facts are rarely in evidence.
Talk radio is even worse!