Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the red state

Sunday, October 6, 2013

When will the Globe-News stop lying to readers?

Sometime in 2005, I don’t remember exactly when, I decided that I could no longer work at the Amarillo Globe-News. It wasn’t because I disagreed with the paper’s political stances on the editorial and op-ed pages. It was because it committed what I feel is the worst of ethical breaches — publishing a story in which known facts are excluded so as to change the story itself or (in the same vein) refusing to publish a story to suppress facts. It is now clear to me that slanting the news and spreading falsehoods on the editorial and op-ed pages are part of a concerted propaganda effort. Here is the story in the New York Times.

An example of the first that I experienced firsthand was a story about a disagreement between orthopedic surgeons and Baptist St. Anthony's Health System over how the doctors should be paid for emergency room coverage. I had gathered information that made the case that clinical factors should determine who and when a doctor would be called into the hospital off-hours, typically the middle of the night. None of the information got into the published version of the story, which portrayed poor little ole BSA as the victim of doctors’ greed. It’s as if the article’s author was BSA itself.

The second story also involved BSA, this time one documenting a failure to meet legal charity care requirements under Texas law in place in 2005. The executive editor at the time wanted to run the story but the publisher, who is still at the paper, wouldn’t let it run without a personal review of the information. The publisher never could find time for a meeting, so thanks to passive-aggressive avoidance, the story never made it into the Globe-News.

I concluded that Amarilloneeded honest journalism, which is why I established The Amarillo Independent. Amarillo still needs honesty from its paper of record and, while editorials express opinions, editorial writers have a moral and ethical obligation to use facts to back up the opinions. On Oct. 1, the Globe-News ran an editorialthat flat-out lied by repeating a Tea Party talking point about the Affordable Care Act. I called out the paper and the editorial page editor, Dave Henry, on it.

So, here we are Oct. 6 and the Globe-Newscontinues — as it always will — to paint a false picture of a situation. It would be forgivable were these falsehoods done from ignorance. But they aren’t. As I said, they are part of a concerted propaganda effort and, in this case, it’s to be an apologist for the boorish behavior of a Tea Party Republican.

“This isn’t some damn game.”

This was a quote from U.S. House Speaker John Boehner this past Friday — and the speaker is correct.

Unfortunately, the shutdown of the federal government is a game to some in Washington, D.C. — and the nation’s veterans, primarily those of The Greatest Generation, should not be used as pawns.

If that’s the case, then the entire government shut down shouldn’t be a pawn for trying to derail the Affordable Care Act. Accept it’s the law and work through legitimate channels to modify it.

West Texas lawmaker Randy Neugebauer, R-Lubbock, took some heat this past week for confronting a National Park Service employee when barricades were erected at the World War II Memorial in Washington — preventing access for members of The Greatest Generation, at least temporarily.
Does Neugebauer deserve to get dinged? To a degree (a federal employee was the wrong target), but those who think the congressman from Lubbock is the only one deserving of such treatment need more than a partisan perspective.

Neugebauer is exempt from approbation to a degree? He was a hypocritical, boorish and arrogant piece of political offal, and so far the only one to vent his vomit-like spleen on a helpless employee. There is no “partisan perspective” for common courtesy and decency.

The closure of the WWII Memorial, even temporarily to veterans, was an act of gamesmanship — pure and simple.

And shutting down the federal government by refusing to pass a clean continuing resolution isn’t? You can’t have it both ways and the GOP and the Globe-News are making pawns out of the visitors to the WWII Memorial.

The big picture:
■ As syndicated columnists Charles Krauthammer and Diana West pointed out (AGN Media ran their columns Saturday), the $182 million memorial was paid for with $197 million in private funds, with the extra money in a memorial fund.

And then turned it over to the National Park Service to run. Sort of like the center for performing arts was turned over to the city of Amarilloand is now run by the city’s rules.

■ Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives approved three bills for national parks funding, but Democrats balked.

Of course they balked. So did the GOP on the ACA. Good for goose, good for gander.

■ For crying out loud, the WWII Memorial is open-air, how much of a presence is really required by the National Park Service to staff this facility? And how much taxpayer money was used to trot out those ridiculous, if not offensive, barricades?

See above.

■ It also interesting that the federal government found the money to send U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry to Japan this past Thursday to “pay their respects” (according to The Associated Press) at a national cemetery in Tokyo for Japanese soldiers who died in World War II.

This was part of a bigger picture which the Amarillo Globe-News conveniently but not surprisingly leaves out.

The federal government — if not the White House — can write a check for whatever it wants, and in this case, the WWII Memorial, if not the nation’s veterans, was used to score political points.
Again, we’re not letting Congressman Neugebauer off the hook. His scorn was directed at yet another pawn in this political power play (a federal employee), and he should have known better.
However, those who want to pile all the blame for the shutdown of the federal government on the congressman are just as misdirected.

You are letting Neugebauer off the hook. Not only are you making excuses for him, but you’re throwing out a red herring. No one is “piling all the blame for the shutdown” on this lackluster back-bencher. The condemnation is for his boorish behavior and being a hypocrite for attempting to blame a lowly employee for something the Lubbock-based political hack supported.