Uncategorized — September 4, 2009 at 3:44 pm

“Liberal Media”, my butt! Heritage News lifts its skirt


Cross-posted at the Daily Kos.

Last week I penned a Letter to the Editor to the Dexter Leader, my local newspaper and part of Heritage Newspapers. Heritage Newspapers is, from their webpage:

..an award winning publishing group that consists of 11-suburban publications (9 weekly, 1 twice-weekly and 1 tri-weekly publication) in southeastern Michigan with a circulation of over 316,850. […] Heritage Newspapers covers southeastern Michigan from Dearborn to Ohio and from Grosse Ile to Chelsea with the highest market penetration of any newspaper, in this area.

Two days later I received a response from one of their editors. The email was such a shocking display of bias and unprofessionalism that I felt compelled to respond to them AND their supervisors at Heritage. Their email and my response are below.

[NOTE: in all of the following, I have replaced my own name with “Eclectablog” and removed the editor’s name.]

My original letter:

Date: August 28, 2009 2:30:02 PM EDT
To: Dexter Leader
Subject: Letter to the editor

To the Editor:
I’m pleased to see local residents writing in to your newspaper in support of health care reform. While Representative Mark Schauer can not seem to get a fair hearing in the editorial section from writers like [Editor’s name], it’s refreshing to see that the voters are aware of the facts and how seriously we need comprehensive health care reform in this country.

It’s become quite obvious just how desperate the anti-reform forces have become. When they have to resort to outright lies about the legislation, it’s clear their arguments are weak.

“Death panels”? – not in the bill
Euthanasia for the sick, elderly and infirm? – not in the bill
A “death book” encouraging service men and women to commit suicide? – not in the bill
Forcing millions and millions of Americans onto government-run health insurance? – not in the bill

These are some of the more egregious examples of “straw men” that have been set up as an argument against reform. Here’s a hint: NOBODY wants these things, including pro-reform advocates. If things like “death panels” and euthanasia were part of the bill, you can be sure pro-reform people like me would be first in line to fight them.

Consider a few FACTS about the health care system in this country right now.

* In 2008, the five largest public health insurance companies made $7.8 BILLION in profits. In 2007, that number was. $11.8 BILLION.
* Between 2000 and 2007, profits at the 10 largest public health insurance companies rose 425%.
* 8 million Americans have lost their health care coverage since 2000.

Profits are UP and coverage is DOWN. Couple that with the fact that health insurance industry is spending, on average, $1.4 MILLION PER DAY to fight reform and the primary source of this misinformation becomes clear. As they say, just “follow the money”.

It’s time for an alternative to for-profit health care coverage that does not put profits before people. Please join me in supporting Rep. Schauer and his colleagues as they work to improve our system so that no American is left without affordable access to quality health care, the kind we’ve come to expect in this wonderful and compassionate country of ours.

The editor’s response:

You are beautiful. You should go work for the democratic party because you have the spin down to an art.
A fair shake from [editor’s name]. That’s brilliant. All I asked was for him to come out and talk about it. And of course the next week he does another phone town hall and tells us AGAIN the day before so we can’t get it in the paper.
Shocking that you missed the point of the column.

The hypocrosy [sic] from the left never ceases to amaze me. And the arrogance and the way you treat people like they are so stupid. And Eclectablog, what about the war? I thought that was your big-ticket item. Don’t hear about that anymore from the left.

I’m shocked that you’re for this plan. Just shocked. I could go through every issue on the planet and tell you exactly your position. Glad you can think for yourself.

But I still love ya, man. And keep writing!

And, finally, my response from this morning:

Dear [Editor’s name],
Thank you for printing my letter in the Dexter Leader.

I have to confess that your email (below) surprised me. Usually the only person who tells me I’m beautiful and brilliant and that they love me is my wife!

But more importantly, it displayed a truly profound level of unprofessionalism on the part of a newspaper editor. I have been writing letters to the editor since I was in college when my first one was printed in the Detroit Free Press. In that time I have never received a personal email in response to my letters, much less one that was so sarcastic, so insulting and so counter to the entire spirit of public debate and dialog. My understanding of the editorial page of any newspaper is that it offers an opportunity for community members to exchange viewpoints, even when they disagree. If your policy is to subject those who speak their views to this type of offensive response, it can only serve to throttle that free exchange of ideas.

Your email suggests that you believe my “fair shake” comment was in response to a single editorial by you. This is not the case. Over the past year you personally have penned several editorials critical of Representative Schauer. Additionally, you authored a front page article presenting an extremely slanted view of a town hall meeting held in Dexter by Rep. Schauer in February. THAT is why I say he hasn’t gotten a fair shake from you.

In your most recent editorial about Schauer, you asked the question “I have some questions, too. But who do I ask Where is our representative?”

The answer to this is that your representative is a mere phone call, email, or office hours meeting away. After reading your editorial, I contacted Rep. Schauer’s office to ask about his supposed lack of public meetings regarding health care. I quickly received a list of the events he has been involved with (reprinted below) and, in contrast to what you say in your editorial, I found that he has been VERY involved with his constituents.

In a time when newspapers across the country and even right here in our community are shutting down their presses and closing their doors, your response to me seems very odd and you might consider responding in a more professional manner befitting of a newspaper editor in the future.

Regards, Eclectablog

And, yes, they really did mis-spell “hypocrisy” in the sentence right before they accused me of treating “people like they are so stupid”. I have been kind enough to remove their name but what’s really amazing is that they sent this to me from their heritage.com email account and there was no disclaimer that I should not share it with anyone. Keeping their name off this is merely a courtesy, one I barely choose to offer.

I swear to the gods, the next time someone refers to the “liberal media” or the “liberal press”, I’m going to vomit right there on their shoes.

Oy vey.

I’ll put the list of Schauer’s townhall’s in the comments to avoid cluttering up this diary. He’s being accused all across District 7 of not listening to opposition but you’ll see from the list that this is decidedly NOT the case.

I’m just sayin’…