Choking Out the Opponent

In a sudden and shocking move, the Lake Sun Leader has changed its online site.  No longer is the news available for free online.  Now, full access to Lake Sun content will cost you $10.99 a month.  You can still comment freely on articles specifically chosen by the Lake Sun’s editorial staff and content manager, as they will choose what appears on their Facebook page, thus open to the public.  Only those pieces they choose.

The timing of such a move is curious, to say the least.  At a time when the Lake Sun’s own comment sections were alive with debate concerning local issues and matters of politics and current affairs, it makes the move to a pay-for-content site.  This restricts access for many Camden County readers, many of whom are having difficult enough times making ends meet than to be asked to pay for information.  Being an informed citizen, an informed voter, is at the heart of a democracy.  It is our protection against corruption and the forces that would collude to keep us in the dark.  Our local, rural media is the key to unlocking our view of the world.  It is supposed to be based on truth, honor and dignity.

Our local paper is intended to inspire debate and discussion.  Not division.  Not exclusivity.  The Lake Sun, with both their track record and under the cover of the bottom line, has made a move to restricting access and comment.  With their history, it is not surprising.  It serves as a book end to their history of distorting facts, misleading the public and publishing propaganda in support of the lunatic fringe views of the hard right.  It fits a pattern of recent, overt behavior that can only be called disturbing.

Last fall, I began submitting letters to the editor of the paper.  One of them, titled ‘Hartzler’s Folly’, was printed in the Lake Sun.  It had to do with the arrest of a Missourian in her office for deciding to wait for a meeting with the Congresswoman.  The Lake Sun ran a response from the office of Rep. Hartzler and a few letters critical of me and my submissions.  They chose not to print my reply to Vigilant Vicky’s office, although it was sent within 24 hrs of her rebuttal seeing print.

I realized what we were up against at that point.  It wouldn’t be about promoting views, no matter how well researched, how well written. Keith Broekemeier had the same experience, as his critical letters stopped seeing print as the August election drew near.  He was frustrated.

He wasn’t alone.

I began working exclusively on the internet.  I wrote about the Lake Sun and their parent company, Gatehouse Media.  I wrote about the run to privatize Missouri’s education system.  I wrote about the police state that has been formed around us, with the help of a silent media.  I wrote about Anaheim.  I wrote about a girl in St. Louis who was tazed in a shopping mall.  I wrote about Cliff Luber, the Ayatollah.  I wrote about Vigilant Vicky Hartzler.

I wrote about the Lake Sun’s unscrupulous behavior.

First reported here, on American Spring, the Lake Sun Leader was caught manufacturing support for then GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum in the lead up to a caucus process that was contentious, to put it mildly.  They were caught misstating the amount of supporters at the fringe candidate’s rally, held in Osage Beach.

They lied.

They left a trail in black and white.

When writing an online piece about Cliff Luber, when his candidacy for Camden County Commissioner was announced, I went through the Lake Sun opinion archives.  I was in search of a letter the Ayatollah had written, in which he was calling for pastors to preach politics from the pulpit.  I initially couldn’t find it.  It had been removed from the archive.  After making a bit of a ruckus, the letter re-appeared.  I even thanked the paper for making it available in another installment of a series I did about religious extremism and the media’s role in perpetrating it in Missouri.

They removed the letter.

It was damaging to the Ayatollah.

While being critical of Vigilant Vicky Hartzler and her voting record, I experienced strange glitches on my phone that have led me to believe it is being monitored.  I wrote about this here, and sent it for publication to the Lake Sun.  I was told that it needed to be ‘toned down’ to run in the paper.  That’s puzzling, as it was a discussion about the Big Brother systems of government.  I would have thought freedom lovin’ folks would have an interest to hear about that kind of theft of our liberties.  I was wrong, apparently.

They wouldn’t print the letter.

It needed to be ‘toned down’.

I was frustrated.

I wrote more.

The Lake Sun then ran the first of three articles promoting the idea of a ‘conspiracy theory’ of an anonymous ‘smear campaign’ against the Ayatollah.  The theory was based on the reader’s ability to suspend disbelief.  To take the Lake Sun’s version of events, we should imagine that the ‘smear campaign’ was mere invention.  It was ‘Chicago-style politics’.

It was a police report.

Instead of reporting fact, the staff of the Lake Sun indulged in writing a bit of tawdry, sad fiction.  They focused on casting Cliff Luber as a victim, instead of reporting the facts associated with the claims of ‘anonymous smear campaigns’.  They then wrote a self-congratulating piece, applauding themselves and the virtuous Ayatollah on his glorious triumph.  They followed that up later in the week, attempting to add an exclamation point to the end of their tale, with questions of ‘Who Done It?’.  After all, the bigger the lie….

It was propaganda.

It was creative fiction, designed to confuse the existence and significance of a police report with Luber’s threats contained in its pages. I called for the Editor of the Lake Sun Leader, Joyce Miller (joyce.miller@lakenewsonline.com) and reporter @Spreeness to resign.  I said they were dangerous and engaged in deceit.

I did not expect that letter to see print.  It didn’t even receive a reply calling for me to ‘tone it down’.

I decided to try again.  “The Party Is Over”, which did run in the Lake Sun,  was an appeal to all thinking men and women in the reach of the paper to understand that they are united against us.  The politicians work for whomever writes the checks, not the rest of us. Those who write the checks intend to increase their profit margins and to hell with the rest of us. Both the RNC and DNC showed that democracy and its processes and procedures are meaningless to the corporate state.  They both shrugged off the will of the people in servitude of another master entirely.

It is common ground for all of us.

Then, the Todd Akin piece ran.  The LACC piece ran.

This is thanks, in no small part, to a clamor on the comment boards on the Lake Sun’s web site.  The pressure generated by the simple act of commentary on our local media, frightens them.  They understand they are holding someone else’s bag, pushing the propaganda of the lunatic fringe.

Dissent will not be tolerated.  It will be silenced through any means necessary.

While the Lake Sun was transitioning their site this afternoon, an email made its way to my inbox.  This email was regarding apparent censorship of certain comments on their articles.  The people who were attempting to post were supporters of the Ayatollah’s competition.  The Lake Sun dismissed the questions as being a ‘technical issue’, but when one considers their history, can that really be trusted?

The comments in question were from a political opponent of Luber’s, Don Barrett. After repeated inquiries, Mr. Barrett was ‘assured’ by Joyce Miller that it was only a glitch associated with the creation of the new pay for content site.

It would appear that the Lake Sun is instead making a rush to attempt to shut off commentary that doesn’t fit their narrative and restrict access to content at the editor’s discretion.  Given Joyce’s predisposition, as documented in the pages of her paper, do we dare allow her to decide what is available for mass consumption?

The Lake Sun is attempting to silence dissent.  They intend for the voice of rape, murder and hatred to win his seat.  They intend to nip any sort of opposing opinions from their pages.

Their intent is obvious.

They will further shrink our scope of knowledge and awareness until only the lunatic fringe are interested.  They will reduce our conversations to those of passion, not those of logic.  These changes and obvious examples of malpractice illustrate clearly whose side the Lake Sun is on.  It sides with the lunatic fringe.

Dissent will not be tolerated.

It will be choked out.

Ironically, a gentleman made the comment, in jest, that we should ‘occupy the lsl’ on the Lake Sun’s site, over the weekend, just before the change.  It seems they have given us no choice.

Comments like that are EXACTLY what they are afraid of.

Who’s up for an occupation?

The Gatehouse Version

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! 

Oh. Wait.

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.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Nomination…

What began with the Lake Sun openly engaging in the manufacture of support for GOP candidate Santorum during a campaign stop in Osage Beach and the resulting look at the corporate ownership responsible for this particular manipulation of facts has brought more troubling facts to the surface.

My interest in the subject of the caucus came quite by accident and coincided with an exchange with a local journalist. The question, asked of Deanna Wheeler, reporter of the Lake Sun, via Twitter(@DeannaWheeler), was a bit of a philosophical one, but particularly important in today’s climate.

“What happens to a society in which the media is rendered useless by corporate ownership and interests?” 

It didn’t take long for Ms. Wheeler, Editor-in-chief Joyce Miller, and the Lake Sun to serve up a homespun answer. 

I admit, I could care less about the Republican race for the nomination.  As you can see from my other pieces here, I firmly believe that party is irrelevant.  I was even under the belief that Santorum was going to be in Osage Beach Saturday morning instead of Friday night.  Still, knowing there would be a number of local tea party members for whom Santorum might be attractive, I was curious to see what kind of turnout he managed in this time of poisonous  rhetoric and record low participation.  When I read Ms. Wheeler’s account that the number of supporters was around two hundred people, I was satisfied that it was an accurate reporting of the support in our area for the controversial,ultra-conservative, former lobbiest and politican, Rick Santorum.  Given the fact that she was quoting children for a reaction in her report only reinforced the notion that it was a modest turn-out. 

The surprise came a couple of days later when the results of the Camden County caucus were announced in the Lake Sun by Editor Joyce Miller.  Under her pen, the support for Santorum swelled to six hundred people.  This accompanied a piece about the Camden County caucus which was described as calm while registering their support for Santorum through the delegate selection process.  Special emphasis was put on the orderly nature of the caucus, in response to reports from several Missouri counties whose caucus process was anything but.

While the blatant misrepresentation of support in the Lake Sun came as a surprise, it seems to only be one peculiar piece to a much larger picture.   When one begins to look at the events of the Missouri caucuses conducted last weekend across this state, a troubling picture begins to emerge that raises serious questions about the media across this state, and the role of journalism today. 

A funny thing happened on the way to the nomination in Missouri, but it’s likely you missed it.

This weekend I will be doing a series on the strange goings on in this caucus process.  I hope you’ll join me.  I’m going to go fret that Kansas won now.  Peace. 

 

Lake Sun Inflates Santorum Support

Why is the difference in attendance, as first reported here by Deanna Wheeler of Gatehouse Media’s Lake Sun and the Editor’s accounting of the same event so dramatically different?  It wouldn’t be the first time the corporation has been linked to politicians.  After all, John Edwards (yes that’s right, HIM) ran for office while owning part of Gatehouse. 

Inflating support for a candidate is a direct attempt to sway momentum for said candidate and is an absolute violation of the role of  the ‘free’ press in our republic. 

Gatehouse owns most small town papers in Missouri.  Also in Illinois and Massachusetts.

What if we are ALL being given inflated support numbers?

What they didn’t say was that there was widespread chaos concerning the GOP caucus across the state, at a time when our political rhetoric is at its most vile and most of the electorate is completely turned off by the sick parody of the current primary.  The politicians,Super PACS, millionaires, billionaires and the corporations who fund them have turned this into a single party state.  Government by the highest bidder.    

Not that you would know it.  After all, according to the Gatehouse version, all is peaceful and calm here.  We are marching along in step. 

When asked for clarification, Deanna Wheeler replied, “There wasn’t an official head count but I would say about  300 people, maybe 400. The hall was about 3/4ths full.”

200,300,400,600…..Hell, how about a  thousand.    It only matters if you’re paying  attention.