This time, in an uncharacteristic admission of fair play they actually allowed the coroner to speak for herself, but not without the paper regurgitating the usual suspect information and innuendos injecting the political mission statements from a Rock County board member who only wants to decommission county elective offices into patronage department hires. By injecting the unfounded complaints yet again with the board member's agenda, the newspaper deliberately turned what should have been a routine report on the coroner's qualifications, constituent satisfaction and service into a political circus.
After priming up the reader's tension pump, the hard copy Gazette then juxtaposed the poisonous spin with their own fun-loving team player prescription in a far less cynical, less intrusive and separate article about the coroner's primary challenger. On the Web, the paper takes it even further by combining both articles on one link conveniently concluding the Gazette-damaged "Keach" article with her challenger's, "Rock County deserves better." I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.
It's worth noting that days earlier in a similar publishing lay-out with Rep. Paul Ryan and democratic challenger John Heckenlively, the Gazette did not combine their stories or position the challenger as the antidote to Ryan. Instead they hammered Heckenlively with the misleading title, Ryan's opponent calls for taxes, spending and kept the candidate's stories apart with their own separate, dedicated Web-link.
But even with those typical failings of truth and fair play, by far the worst shot came in this little statement about the coroner's father.
JG Excerpt:How low can you go.
Keach was born in Mercy Hospital in Janesville, the daughter of a General Motors worker and a nurse. Her dad had been in the hospital for two years after getting shot in the Vietnam War. He survived because he played dead while under attack. (added emphasis)
In an email, I asked the coroner's father, Richard Costerisan, about the newspaper's characterization of his military service to his country, he wrote...
"Just for the record, I served for just over 100 days in Vietnam in the 101st Airborne 501 Recon Division as a machine gunner and demolition expert. This is the same historic unit that Pvt. Ryan served in during WWII and is well known for its bravery. I feel I lived up to that reputation well. I was involved in a battalion sweep with my platoon near Tam Kye looking for North Vietnam infantry that had overrun a fire support base. We were leading the battalion and had come under fire and mortar attack the previous day. The day I was wounded my unit volunteered to move onto a terraced hill in a rice paddy to search for wounded soldiers in B Company. It was at that time we came under attack and the men in my platoon were killed or wounded. I was the first to be shot because I was the machine gunner. Following that I was shot four more times as I moved down the hill looking for cover below one of the terraced walls. I was later rescued from that location by other soldiers and medevaced. I was wounded 5 times in combat and awarded two purple hearts and a bronze star with two oak leaf clusters for bravery in combat."
-- Richard Costerisan
Over the years, Costerisan has defended his daughter against the newspaper for publishing politically motivated cheap-shot articles about her, like any good father would. He has also defended our country with honor, like any good soldier would. For this he becomes just another victim of the Gazette's destructive revenge journalism.
Although our soldiers defend our right to speak freely every single day, no soldier or father of a candidate running for public office should be subject to this sort of reckless and hurtful speech. Not from self-described news professionals anyways.
Excluding racist remarks, it really doesn't get much worse than this.
Advertently implying that, "those that fought their attackers did not survive" is a vicious mischaracterization of a surviving combat soldier's duty to his fellow soldiers and his country. Aside from the obvious injustice here, non-pertinent history of a parent or family member of any candidate running for public office should always be closely guarded information and not turned into contextual fodder to be kicked around.
But with this latest outrage, Gazette journalists and their approving editors continue to take the newspaper and the Janesville community down an ugly path of misery-mongering and gutter journalism. Regardless of how they sourced their information, there was absolutely no excuse to include such a casually insensitive statement in the article. At least not in any "good" newspaper.
It should be offensive to everyone.
Rock County deserves much better.
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