Opinion Piece By Samuel Strait – November 5, 2016 –
While it is so often constructive to point out the failings to the public of our Constitutional Rights of Free Speech by our local print newspaper, the Del Norte Triplicate, there is a much more insidious activity that our paper is guilty of with regards to election coverage to be found within its pages. We are now quite familiar with Republican candidate Donald Trump’s often verbose claims of “election rigging” which many “experts” are quick to claim that it doesn’t exist, or at least it doesn’t exist on a wide spread scale. Quite frankly I am tired of so call “experts” making such claims only to learn that such activity does indeed take place. Just how wide of a scale it happens will likely never see the light of day, nor will many of its perpetrators ever face the “long arm of the law”.
The kind of “election rigging” for want of a better term, is something much more common place and exists right before you very eyes, or maybe your ears if you happen to be a radio listener. As a child in school one of the most effective tools that I used quite frequently to learn my weekly new vocabulary words was by repeating the words over and over until they were lodged in my brain. It is this kind of word parsing that has found its way into the arsenals of many political campaigns in order to gain a certain result at the polls. When one side or the other has a certain acknowledged monopoly on the most common forms of media expression TV and print media, your local newspaper as an example, messages can be crafted along a certain story line, often with the truth an after thought, to support a favored candidate or measure on the local ballot. It usually doesn’t require much thought to figure out where the “rigging” is going to take place in a newspaper, as it can so often be found in the people that the newspaper endorses.
As an example, at our local level, our newspaper has endorsed, Kathryn Murray and David Finigan as Supervisors for the County and the Crescent City Times, an online competitor of the Triplicate has endorsed Roger Gitlan and Bob Berkowitz as their favored candidates. For the past several weeks both papers have gone back and forth trying to imprint the qualities of their endorsements on their respective candidates in order to achieve a certain result at the polls. While there is a far greater ability to take advantage of the freedom offered at the Crescent City Times, that does not really exist at the Triplicate where censorship has taken root. What do you mean by that, you say?
The Crescent City Times exists in a format that all opinions are welcome and debate, clarification, and commentary on candidates or even topics are a lively part of its appeal. And it is FREE! Quite often you learn things about the candidates that do not grace the pages of the Triplicate, and in fact are hidden from the public. This is most definitely not the kind of media outlet that should exist unless you happen to be a drone. It is also a mechanism that is employed by political activists within the paper and in political campaigns to collude together in order to provide only one message, often distorted or untrue, to cultivate a certain repetitive messages to influence voters. No “election rigging” huh?
As we have recently seen in Wikileaks provided e-mails talking about such activities happening between the Clinton Campaign and major news outlets, this same activity is going on in our local print newspaper, the Triplicate. I suppose the burden of taking advertising money from the heavily out of the area financed Kathryn Murray, (over $20,000 on her last Form 460) doesn’t have anything to do with the Triplicate’s messaging or the idea that Ms. Murray isn’t going to “play for that pay”. After all we have Ms. Murray’s mentor Martha McClure’s “alleged” fiasco detailed in her time while on the Coastal Commission over eighty possible violations of her activities while being “cooperative, working with people, mostly out of the area, and long time Supervisor with well established connections, again out of the county. Absolutely no influence there! Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that recently it came to light that our “LOCAL Democratic Central Committee”, rest easy local Democrats, this is only your Central Committee, that seems to be involved in laundering substantial political donations to out of the area Politicians. Triplicate, missing in action once again. After all it is soooo, important to get all that “B section” material to cover the front page.
When you read “letters to the Editor”, various editorials, and comments recorded by reporters from the Triplicate you will notice the following recurrent themes. Roger Gitlin and Bob Berkowitz are bullies, uncooperative, and can’t work with anyone. They do not have connections at higher levels of State and Federal Governments which take time to cultivate and will reap rewards at some unspecified time in the future. They do not have any largely useless infrastructure projects to lay claim as their own or being largely responsible for their completion. This is repeated over and over in a multitude of ways in the Triplicate all designed to make you pull the voting lever for Kathryn Murray and David Finigan without giving much thought as to why, exactly any of that is beneficial to the residents of THIS County and not simply to Kathryn Murray, David Finigan, their allies at the Triplicate, and their friends in State and Federal Government.
Of course you only get lip service from the Triplicate to such awkward details as to why large Construction oriented Unions, consultants and State level politician donate exorbitant amounts to see Mr. Finigan retained and Kathryn Murray elevated respectively to the Board of Supervisors. Don’t want any awkward messaging there. Could be that Union members , consultants, and contractors stand to make large amounts of money off current and future infrastructure projects to be initiated in the County. Cooperation, for receiving donations to your political campaign from State level politicians, NOT A CHANCE. I don’t seem to find any of that messaging in any form whatsoever in the Triplicate, let alone repetitive. Street lights, another literacy program, infrastructure projects coupled with more debt and no net improvement, I don’t seem to see much of anything about what exactly the value to the community might be for those highly touted accomplishments by Murray and Finigan. New airport terminal, 20 blighted buildings removed, expanded broadband, early education, harbor dredging?? Really?? Relationships with State and Federal Agencies and politicians? And just where has this gotten us in the past twenty years? The Triplicate clearly wants more of the same and seems to be content with going all in by “rigging” the message. Time for the local print paper to face up to their conduct, which for many years has served to diminish it as a news source in the eyes of more and more local citizens. Its recent activities which appear to be more of a “rigging” of the message, this has no place in this community and has given rise to this new form of local news. So, Publisher, Cindy Vosburg, and Editor, Robin Fornoff, you will have yourselves to blame should the Triplicate continue to decline.
“Rigging”, is not a politician’s choice of words, but it seems to fit.