Friday, February 19, 2010

Lake Basebegone Press Wars: The truth is out

Well, the quiet days are over for awhile in Lake Basebegone, where all the politicians are apolitical and all the celebrity attorneys are just wronged benefactors of country folk who don’t know no better.

Before updating you, a postscript to today’s earlier post.  I have my own concerns about Maine’s and Brunswick’s business friendliness, but that’s for another time.  Let’s be very clear and very blunt: given the facts on the public record, facts that no relevant party has challenged, anyone who uses the skepticism and remarks about Oxford to assert Brunswick’s business hostility is lost on the lunacy axis, and will soon hit the guard rails on the highway of economic development.  Note to those involved: cut the victim crap.

Now to the press wars.  The Forecaster, which investigated and reported frequently on the Oxford Aviation/MRRA shenanigans, has published a pithy editorial on the recent turn of events.  Unfortunately, it did not run in the print versions out today, but only on the web, and you can find it here.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

Here’s a passage to whet your appetite:

But the MRRA has a questionable record with due diligence, based on last year's negotiations with Oxford Aviation. The board practically gave the company the keys to BNAS before The Forecaster's Steve Mistler did the job the MRRA should have done by digging into and documenting Oxford's history of broken promises and less-than-stellar job creation elsewhere in Maine.

Now, a quotational interlude:

If you don’t read the papers, you’re uninformed.  If you do read the papers, you’re misinformed.

- Mark Twain

The truth is out.  I’ve noted often that the local newspaper has been inexplicably indifferent to the MRRA/Oxford shenanigans, until now that is, and I wondered why.  Based on the editorial they ran today, I’d say the air has been cleared.

My guess, borne out by their editorial wire brushing of this reporter, is that for reasons that are not clear to me but might be clear to others, they’ve been advocates for the MRRA’s Oxford proposal from the beginning.  Bound to support the initiative, they couldn’t find a way to report on it without risking the truth coming out.  Apparently even they have limits on puff pieces.

The item that ran today is mean spirited and lacking in self-awareness.  They accuse councilors Margo Knight and Ben Tucker of being ‘willfully uninformed.’ This is sanctimony and arrogance of the highest order, coming as it does from a self-absorbed, “award winning” yet circulation-shrinking journal of local news, which somehow couldn’t find the wherewithal to report on the story from its inception.

This passage might cause you to spit your drink through your nose, so you better finish your swallow and set it down before you read it:

Tucker and Knight voiced their speculations about Bailey’s prospective business venture without trying to talk with Bailey, or Oxford Aviation Jim Horowitz. It’s hard to get answers to questions when you don’t ask them.

That clearly was a mistake. It completely undermines their credibility as town councilors, since there might well have been ready answers for their speculative opinions if they had made a couple of phone calls.

This, I submit, is pure poppycock, and a breathtaking and ‘award-winning’ example of journalistic arrogance, since the local paper has a well known policy of never asking questions, especially of favored officials and institutions.  Their objectivity and skepticism is virtually non-existent, and if you don’t believe me, you aren’t paying attention.

A friend of mine has something to say on the subject:

Go sell crazy somewhere else; we’re all stocked up around here.

- Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets

And for the local paper to talk about credibility, well, it’s a bridge too far.  Awards or not, they haven’t done serious reporting -investigative, penetrating, informative, or otherwise - in any instance I can remember.  The record would seem to indicate they don’t see a need, because their peers, who follow the same model, continue to award each other citations for excellence of the same irrelevant sort.

The next time I hear them cite their own excellence or government watchdogedness on our behalf, I will challenge them to prove it, and in a public debate if that’s what it takes.

Enough is enough.

At least for now.  Until I think of more to say.

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