First an undated photo of me on the front page of our local newspaper. Then my response in a letter-to-the-editor with portion edited out that did not see print. And there is always the question, “Did our local press self-censor at our congressman’s request?” Welcome to 2014. Read on….
“The newspaper pulled a 2013 story critical of the congressman’s lack of town halls under questionable pretenses. And now the editors print an undated photo that gives the reading public a false impression about the congressman holding real town halls.
These are just two instances in my personal experience where the congressman seems to be coddled by this newspaper.”
The article included this undated picture of me from 2011. I suppose my efforts to have real town halls with my congressman was topical? Oy Vey! Whatta picture!
But why run a 2011 photo of me at a town hall with no mention of my repeated and unsuccessful efforts to get to real town halls in 2013? (There was an event at a church that someone tipped me off about….Jeeesh, and that’s what we have to rely on in Pa-8? Informants?)
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa-8) is NOT having town halls. Publishing a picture of me or anybody at a town hall as part of a recap of 2013 is misleading .
The Courier Times printed my response (since removed from the online edition) to having the undated, misleading photo of me on their front page. One paragraph from that LTE was omitted. The entire letter including the deleted paragraphs is here. Omitted paragraphs in blue.:
The newspaper ran a picture of me at a town hall with Congressman Fitzpatrick. The photo was not dated. That photo is from 2011.
Is that how far back the newspaper had to go to find a picture of the congressman at an unscripted town hall??? It’s 2014 not 2011. Publishing a 2011 photo is misleading when this issue of town halls is very topical in PA-8.
The newspaper pulled a photo from its archives of the one person most publicly critical of the congressman on the town hall issue, and has her at a town hall. This creates the false impression that the congressman is having town halls, and his critics are attending.
A DATED PHOTO FROM 2011 would have made my point: It has been a LONG time since the congressman really faced his constituents.
The congressman does not want to be caught at a real town hall. Informed constituents would challenge their representative to square his words with his votes. I would challenge him on his campaign of misinformation about the Affordable Care Act.
Calling the congressman out on his strategy of avoiding unscripted town halls is not personal. It’s the business of the people in a functioning democracy.
The newspaper pulled a 2013 story critical of the congressman’s lack of town halls under questionable pretenses. And now the editors print an undated photo that gives the reading public a false impression about the congressman holding real town halls.
These are just two instances in my personal experience where the congressman seems to be coddled by this newspaper.
A free, independent press sustains democracy. I would like reassurances that our local press holds fast to high standards of journalistic independence. Perhaps we could start the dialog with the printing of this letter. Let’s talk. Is our local press an extension of Congressman Fitzpatrick’s PR office?
Why all this business with town halls, the press, etc?
In trying to get to real town halls to address my congressman’s misstatements about the Affordable Care Act, I stepped into what I believe is a bunker mentality coming from the Congressman and his staff. Real discourse with the public is to be avoided. ”Town halls” were held without proper notification of the public, and then they dried up altogether. I tried in vain to get advance notice of town halls. Finally, I decided to keep close track of town halls so I wouldn’t miss any. That effort became the Art As Social Inquiry project, Tracking Town Halls: Does the First Amendment Matter?
Throughout this piece, I reference the August 2013 disappearing article by Gary Weckselblatt, longtime respected reporter at the Intelligencer. That newspaper piece was critical of Congressman Fitzpatrick and his apparent unwillingness to meet his constituents at town halls. The article has since disappeared from the online version of the newspaper as well as another online outlet that picked it up, PA/NJ NBC News. Also, Mr. Weckselblatt, the reporter, has been removed from the newspaper’s political beat. The newspaper contends that the article critical of the Congressman contained “inaccuracies.” The source of those inaccuracies remains unknown.
Why is this important to me? I want our local press to go the extra mile to show its readership that they do not bend to the will of our congressman. It would help to know what the “inaccuracies” are that caused the editors to banish an article by a respected journalist, and one that, coincidentally was critical of the Congressman. It would also be helpful to know if this information — info that would cause a major news source in our region to censor its work — didn’t come with a little arm-twisting by the congressman or his staff. What are the inaccuracies in the censored article?
Citizens rely on a free press. Democracy is nothing but theater for public entertainment until it ceases to exist at all without a strong, independent, free press. (Open and unscripted dialog at well publicized town halls also helps.)