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Monday, December 05, 2011

Janesville Gazette Checks Readers Letters With Politifact


I really haven't been paying as much attention as I'd like to our area's local media monopoly, the Janesville Gazette. They were one of several reasons why I started this blog in the first place, but because of the serious threats our state and nation faces from the likes of Rep. Paul Ryan and Scott Walker, I've taken my eyes off of their little game. Besides, I thought I've seen it all about the Gazette and posted what needed to be posted here on my blog over the years. Well I was wrong.

Sunday, the Gazette posted an editorial titled, "Let's Pause Political Rhetoric For Civil Debate" where the the editor writes a story about the National Conference of Editorial Writers starting a Civility Project in an effort to raise the bar on political conversations.

The newspaper (editorial) eventually moves on to explain they're trying to do their part. For example...

Gazette Editorial:
... we won't run a letter from a Janesville woman who compared union protesters to murderous Mexican drug cartels.

If it was a signed letter from a genuine citizen entity in Janesville and did not contain obviously explicit language - why not publish it? That's her opinion. Besides, labor unions have heard it all so letters to newspaper editors won't change the temperature a whole lot.

I'm sure there was nothing new in the letter but the same old lies and smears anyways. But how about the time when their own endorsed Congressman Paul Ryan likened labor unions to Saddam's Hussein's strong-arm Ba'ath Party? Where was the Gazette's quest for civility then? What about the time during a radio interview when the toxic Ryan agreed with Glenn Beck's outrageous statement that "Progressives are a cancer?" How's that for poisoning the well of civil discourse? Or when the ever alarmist Ryan called the protest events in Madison, riots. Oh well, that's different I suppose, why he's a rising star.

But it gets better.

Gazette Editorial:
We wouldn't let another writer suggest Walker accepted a raise.

As we all know, Scott Walker's salary as governor is $7,000 more than the previous governor. Was it technically a raise? Well no, but it was an increase in the governor's annual salary at a time when Walker was cutting compensation for public employees and asked everyone to join him in his "Brown Bag" campaign. It's box wine for everyone!! Except himself of course.

The point is, Walker could have easily rejected the increase in salary by saying the state cannot afford it and that there is nothing to negotiate about it. You know, like he did with public employees. We're broke! Remember? But the fact that the editor rejected a signed letter from someone expressing their opinion without any apparent vulgarity or personal attack is an outrage. This is pure partisan censorship.

But it gets even better about why they rejected that particular citizen's letter.

Gazette Editorial:
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Politifact project debunked that argument, saying it's only a "raise" if you start at one rate and increase to another.

That's why!?? So the editor qualifies readers signed letters, statements and opinions with Politifact. Unbelievable!! But using their logic, I suppose when Walker increased state spending by $1.1 billion, it really wasn't an increase because Walker was not the governor of the previous budget. Walker's starting from a neutral baseline, huh?

Many of the Journal's Politifact editorials have been debunked by several different opinion sources enough times to change their name to PolitiFarce. Plus, they are little more than an opinion editorial themselves. But oh well, if Politifact says so, it must be true or whatever. Sunday funnies!

In the past, the Gazette rebutted reader's letters criticizing Paul Ryan's ideological budget manifestos by issuing an "editor's note" regurgitating Ryan's talking points from his roadmap plan. In a later blog post, the editor explained he thought it was appropriate to post Ryan’s policy statements "to balance the letter writer's right to express himself with our desire to provide accurate information and perspective." No kidding.

The "Civility" editorial continued on about two other PolitiFact statements as if those opinions were the ultimate and irrefutable truth. But the fact that Janesville Gazette editors reject signed letters from local readers by vetting the letter writer's opinions through Politifact is just too bizarre and downright funny. How do we write in cyberspeak? LOL!!

BUT, BUT while the newspaper is now doing Politifact vetting of signed letters from their readers, they have for over the past decade fueled up for twice-a-week bombing raids of random rants, slurs and anonymous hit jobs on public officials, Democrats, school teachers and labor unions and have recently ramped it up during the recall petition drive.

In the past two weeks alone, the Gazette published dozens of dubious individual statements in their anonymous "Sound Off" column about the Walker Recall. These called-in comments were running 5 to 1 against the Recall and were loaded with attacks of mindless, worthless grunts and gurgles against Democrats, Recall petitioners, protesters and anyone opposed to Scott Walker. You'd read worn-out garbage such as, "malcontents demand recalls," "greedy and selfish teachers, "Do these fanatics know," "Democrats belong to unions and they are bought and paid for by Socialist agendas," "don't let the unions intimidate you," "recall Walker means putting unions back in charge," and of course "Unions are not your friend," just to mention a few. The main point is, the Gazette has been running an anti-union marketing agenda and social incivility messaging campaign for years under the guise of anonymity and with zero PolitiFact vetting. The editors have also pompously claimed their newspaper product best reflects the area's political persuasion, when in truth it is exactly the opposite. But they're proud of it. They're professionals.

Lastly, the editor tries to smooth over their obvious authoritarian bias and partisanship by stating that no one, conservatives or liberals, has the fear and rhetoric market cornered. That's true, but why state the obvious unless you're looking for an excuse or equivalency to your own bias?

The truth is, the Janesville Gazette and the mainstream media at-large have had the incivility market cornered all to themselves and they are beginning to lose some of that control. Isn't it time their subscribers demand they practice what they preach? But you can bet they're going to keep their tools of incivility like the Gazette's anonymous "Sound Off" column no matter what, it's YOU who have to give up yours.

Related:

Bliss Com, True Colors

Janesville newspaper rips through Unions with anonymity

Newspaper's Anonymous Column: A place To Offend



If you haven't yet seen this, check out the latest episode of Civil Discourse Podomatic!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Gagzette no longer reflects the area's political persuasion because they lost most of the democrats and working class households. They only reflect their subscriber base now. Republicans and the 1 percent.

Anonymous said...

After the treatment of teachers and union members when Walker unleashed his budget acts, we dropped them. I also encouraged many friends and family to do the same, I successfully ended twelve subscriptions that were daily subscribers for years. The only way to get your voice heard is to talk with your money.

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