Last Sunday morning KY3’s Sara Forhetz gave me the first news of the Missouri caucus. She reported on the arrests made in St. Peters and the postponement of their caucus and she gave a recap of the Greene County results. In those, Ron Paul and his supporters scored a clear and decisive victory taking a clear majority of the elected delegates, with Romney a distant second and Santorum a badly beaten third.
I will admit that I laughed out loud because, as I have maintained from the beginning, if you actually have to count the votes, Dr. Paul is a strong candidate, primarily because his long held views on personal liberties, including the repeal of the Patriot Act and NDAA, his anti-occupation stance regarding our military force and his stated objective to end the failed ‘War on Drugs’ are messages that resonate with a large section of Americans.
As for the arrests, I am sorry to say that without knowing a single detail from any of the events that occurred around the state on St. Patrick’s Day, I was not at all surprised. I took a quick glance around the headlines and saw that there were several reports of disruptions coming from all over the state. I was reminded of a workplace conversation a friend, who is a proud Tea Partier, and I, had about his feelings going into the caucus.
He had tuned out. He supports Newt Gingrich and his candidate didn’t even take the time to register. Politics, for him, have now become toxic. The endless parade of debates, of the avalanche of negative ads ( luckily, and due in part to the switch to caucus, Missouri has yet to bear the full brunt of the Super PAC ), the constant, continued refrain of their hard-line minority that seems to determined to pull the party to the right of Hitler. He has had enough of all of it.
It was the second time in a week someone had expressed that opinion to me, the first person telling me he didn’t even want to vote.
The rising level of frustration across the country is palpable.
On Monday, when I began sifting through the articles, a pattern was beginning to emerge across the state that was worth taking note of. In several counties, it seemed a minority of people attempted to hijack the process in order to show support to their candidate of choice, the radically conservative Rick Santorum.
On Tuesday, when the Lake Sun announced the results from Camden County, they came along with a pledge for Santorum and an over-inflated illusion of support for the former lobbyist during a campaign stop the Friday before the caucus.
The Lake Sun’s radical inflation of support for Rick Santorum and the editorial tone of the ‘calm’ Camden County caucus were too much to take. Outright lies and the practice of manipulating facts by those working in our media cannot be tolerated any longer. We must hold them accountable.
That began my look into my ‘local’ paper and their editorial staff, the corporate ownership, their overall editorial direction and the effect, if any; this has on the primary process. It didn’t take long before the elephant in the room refused to be ignored and a bigger picture emerges.
Gatehouse Media:Who Are The Gatekeepers?
A quick tour through their website offers a picture of the Gatehouse Media influence across small markets in Missouri, as well as several other states. This from the ‘About Us’ section of their site:
GateHouse Media’s business model is to be the preeminent provider of local content and advertising in the small and midsize markets we serve. Our portfolio of products, which includes 431 community publications and more than 405 related websites and six yellow page directories, serves over 299,000 business advertising accounts and reaches approximately 10 million people on a weekly basis. As of September 25, 2011, our core products included:
- 79 daily newspapers with total paid circulation of approximately 657,000;
- 257 weekly newspapers (published up to three times per week) with total paid circulation of approximately 493,000 and total free circulation of approximately 694,000;
- 95 “shoppers” (generally advertising-only publications) with total circulation of approximately 1.5 million;
- Over 405 locally focused websites, which extend our franchises onto the internet; and
- Six yellow page directories, with a distribution of approximately 490,000, that covers a population of approximately 1.2 million people.
Gatehouse Media specializes in small circulation newspaper ownership and in Missouri; they are big players in the rural news market. Whether it is my own Lake Sun Leader in Camdenton, the Booneville Daily News, the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune, the Waynesville Daily Guide, or the St. James Leader-Journal, it is the same Gatehouse template.
After learning the Lake Sun decided to spin fact from fiction to favor Santorum, I began looking at some of these Gatehouse Media outlets and their caucus coverage.
The Waynesville Daily Guide provided an immediate example of pro-Santorum coverage with an article that expanded on his point of view. The hits continued to come along increasingly pro-corporate, pro-Republican lines with their article on the alliance of corporate powers Cargill, Monsanto and others to derail the will of the Missouri people regarding the Prop B puppy mill legislation passed by the voters of this state. The obvious bias is reflected in Alan Scherzaiger’s report as it attempts to justify the use of corporate influence in politics to overturn the will of the people of the state. One wonders if Mr. Scherzaiger is from Missouriat all and if so, does he work for Monsanto’s PR department? While these were hot topics in the Waynesville Daily Guide, it appears there might not have even been a caucus, as there was no reference to it at all.
In fact, as I looked through their website, it appears the last truly local news update occurred in October of last year. Perhaps that explains my previous questions about Mr. Scherzaiger.
The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune’s coverage of their own Livingstone County caucus was very straight forward and appeared to be very matter of fact. All things went smoothly and there has been no further mention of the caucus.
This is marginally better than the Rolla Daily News. They didn’t even mention the caucus. Neither did the Booneville Daily News, although to be fair, they did tout a political prayer fest. Not a single word about the caucus was mentioned in the Carthage Press either, touted as Southwest Missouri’s oldest paper.
And the St. James Leader-Journal decided to instead focus on a pity party for its paper’s corporate ownership and the current editor’s family’s role in it. Their website is reflective of a familiar theme of blog voices, conservative and religious. If that is starting to sound familiar to you, rest assured. You aren’t alone. Although I will say this, to the editor. Yes, I am from out of town but thanks for introducing me to St. James’ famous whine!
The Neosho Daily News reported overwhelming support for Santorum in Newton County and a smooth process, despite the recurring sense of frustration with the change from a ‘winner-take-all’ primary system.
You will have to join me for a laugh. In the Hannibal Courier-Post they are not talking about the GOP caucus at all, but if you want a good laugh, click here and check out the top news stories. A flip through the pages here and you tell me how anxious YOU are to visit Mark Twain’s home. You will also notice the same parade of conservative ‘opinion’ pieces.
To be fair, the Examiner stands out from the ‘Missouri’ template for Gatehouse, as it appears to reflect a slightly more unique and independent (no pun intended) stance than the cookie cutter pattern. Still, there was no mention of the caucus chaos, begging the question: “If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to report it…?”
What you might not know, if you don’t look outside the Gatehouse version of ‘local’, rural media, is bound to hurt you. Here is a small collection of stories that emerged from the Missouri caucus, gathered from various sources. For more detail on the arrests made in St. Charles, please check here. The Turner Report has done extensive work on this, including an update today with video.
What begins to emerge is a slightly different picture than the one presented rural Missouri in outlets controlled by the corporate Gatehouse Media. In fact, when one begins to look closer at the results that came from the St. Louis and Jackson Counties yesterday, it would appear Gatehouse Media is squarely aligned with the minorities who sought to grasp at control of their caucus across the state.,
More to come….please contact via Twitter @AmericanSpring with comments.