Journalism
and sunshine

Re: Press editorial March 10

On March 10, Sheridan Press readers were treated to an editorial focusing on “Sunshine Week” in which it was claimed that journalists “focus on the importance of government transparency” and that they “work tirelessly to hold public officials accountable and demand transparency in how and why our leaders do what they do.” Hillary Clinton, anyone?

That may be true at the local level. But at the national level, journalism has become so partisan in nature that their work product seems more a result of ideological advocacy rather than an objective search for truth.

The Press editorial claimed that journalists endeavor “to ensure open government remains a basic American right.” Given the work of the current deep state bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., and the media’s ignoring it, this claim is simply preposterous when viewed in the light of the media’s historical record on the matter. The national media have disgraced themselves numerous times over the decades and continue to do so.

Much of it started way back in the 1930s when New York Times reporter Walter Duranty sent numerous dispatches from Moscow that no famine existed in Stalin’s USSR whilst some eight million Ukrainian peasants were being intentionally starved by the regime. Result? Duranty received a Pulitzer Prize for his “reporting” — an award which the Times won’t support revoking to this very day.

Then there was the magnificent Walter Cronkite — “America’s anchorman” of the 1960s — who falsely reported in 1968 that the Tet Offensive in Vietnam had been an American “defeat.” His claim was subsequently debunked in its entirety by military historians, causing Accuracy in Media founder Reed Irvine to point out that Cronkite had “contributed a great deal to our defeat in Vietnam.”

Many, many other examples of horrible media bias and irresponsibility can be cited. Suffice it to say that the journalistic profession has earned the disrespect and lack of trust which it receives in poll after poll in this country. Rather than engage in futile and often silly campaigns such as holding signs reading “Je suis Charlie” after the brutal attack in Paris or this latest stunt called “Sunshine Week,” the journalistic profession would do well to conduct an introspective analysis of whether it has earned the respected place in our society which the Founders afforded it in the First Amendment.

My suggestion is that the Fourth Estate reflect on the wise old adage “physician, heal thyself.”

Vera Cole

Sheridan

 

 Real solutions required

Re: Legislative session

Prior to the vote Saturday on the Joint Conference Committee compromise for the general budget, Rep. Chuck Gray, one of the more vocal members of a solid voting bloc in the House stated, “A vote for this budget is a vote, in the long run, for a tax increase.” This inaccurate and oversimplification of the financial challenges faced by the state ignores some critical facts of the finances and the budget process.

First is that we are facing a $900 million shortfall for the biennium. The bulk of this ($600 million) is for education and the remaining $300 million for general operations. The Joint Appropriations Committee submitted the budget bill following 20 working days in December and January followed by many hours after the session began. During that time, these 12 members scrubbed through each and every line of the governor’s budget submission with the various department directors before making the tough decisions necessary to present a balanced budget to the body.

On Feb. 28 and March 1, the two chambers separately introduced and debated the 186 amendments submitted by the legislators. Only 27 percent of the 113 amendments in the House were adopted while 73 percent of the 73 were adopted in the Senate. The debates were vigorous and the hours were long to provide full consideration. When the two bodies failed to agree on a single version, the bill went to a Joint Conference Committee to resolve the differences; the outcome was the vote mentioned above.

As amendments were introduced in the House, it was immediately and painfully apparent that some bringers had not bothered to validate the contents with the House Appropriations Committee. Time after time, a committee member would have to stand up and explain why the proposal was either inappropriate, ineffective or unsubstantiated. Although Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan, is the chair of Senate Appropriations, he confirmed that neither Rep. Mark Jennings or Rep. Bo Biteman, who co-sponsored many of these amendments, had spoken with him on the proposals.

Further, only two of the amendments brought by the bloc even touched on the $600 million education shortfall. Both were brought to set up a voucher system pilot program which, among its other challenges, would have been an addition to cost rather than reduction.

The likelihood of any future tax increases is not a function of a “yes” vote on the budget bill. And a “no” vote on the budget cannot and should not be used as a claim for fiscal responsibility. There is no doubt that all 90 legislators serve with the best possible intentions. However, real solutions to our current financial status require hard choices and not political postures.

 

Gail Symons

Sheridan

By |March 13th, 2018|

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