Why My Local Paper is a Worthless Rag

My local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, saw fit to put this article at the tippy-top of the front page today. Headline:

'Take back the economy': Protesters in Portsmouth rally against banking, corporate ills

This is front page news, why? Let's see. The story, by Foster's reporter Charles McMahon, begins:

PORTSMOUTH -- When Pauline Chabot goes to work as a Child Support Officer for the Department of Health and Human Services every day she doesn't just read about the nation's economic woes in the newspaper or listen to it on the radio.

It's nice to know that a state employee doesn't just read the newspaper or listen to the radio at work.

She sees it up close and personal.

Clichés-R-us.

The Sanbornton resident was one of a dozen working class citizens from all over the Seacoast who gathered in front of the downtown Bank of America Thursday afternoon to not only protest corporate abuses in the banking industry, but to tell Congress to take action now to build an economy that works for everyone.

Gee, they got twelve entire people from all over the Seacoast? And are you wondering how the reporter verified that they were all "working class citizens"? My bet: that's what he was told, and that's what he wrote.

And note the sneaky inclusion of the demonstrators' talking points, not as a quote, but as part of the here's-what-happened "news". We'll see that again.

With a sign reading "Oink of America," Chabot stood in front of the bank during her lunch break as part of the "Take Back the Economy" rally organized by the NH Change That Works project.

You can view a picture of Ms. Chabot and her "Oink of America" sign at the Foster's site; the "O" is a sketch of a pig. Heh!

What the reporter fails to mention is that "NH Change That Works" is hardly a grassroots organization. In fact, about 30 seconds on Google reveals it to be a completely-owned subsidiary of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The SEIU is remarkably sleazy, even for a union. Part of the Illinois Blagojevich scandal involved the SEIU acting as an intermediary between the Obama Administration and Blagojevich; part of the deal was to guarantee the Gov a cushy SEIU-sponsored gig once out of office. [The good folks up at GraniteGrok have long been on the case of the local SEIU, especially their equally phony "I'm a Healthcare Voter" schtick awhile back.]

So the Foster's reporter fails to accurately convey the sponsorship of the protest; however, he does manage to drop a hint or two [emphasis added]:

The state employee, who is also an active member of the Service Employees International Union, said on a daily basis she encounters people who may owe or are due child support, but are without jobs and suitable health care coverage.

"We really need a serious and proper health care system to help all Americans," said Chabot.

Yeah, yeah. So a union activist, in a thinly-disguised union activity, parrots a standard union line? Why is this news?

Chabot was one of over 100 Granite Staters in 11 communities joining together at a dozen Bank of America locations across the state Thursday to protest and to tell Congress that Americans have had enough corporate excess and CEOs draining the finances of working families and hurting the economy overall.

Approximately 10,000 working people in cities nationwide also took part in similar demonstrations at the offices of major banks Thursday afternoon.

I strongly suspect these numbers were not independently verified by the reporter, or anyone; he's meekly reproducing what he was told by the SEIUites. (The 10,000 number also appears in the SEIU press release here, produced before the demonstrations.)

Certainly that would go together with his echoing, once again, the union-produced soundbites, not as quotes, but as "news".

Organizers had billed the event as being for people who are upset about "the recent corporate bonuses given to failed executives paid by taxpayers" and "concerned about the nationwide loss of health care and job security or about what passes for health care and job security."

Finally, the reporter manages to put quotes around the propaganda. He doesn't feel obligated, however, to point out the inconvenient facts about those corporate bonuses being a Geithner/Dodd production.

Marie Choi, a member of the Service Employees International Union Long Term Care Division, was also on hand Thursday and said the demonstration wasn't just about protesting the greed of corporate banks, it was about giving the people a voice.

The reporter might have more accurately identified Ms. Choi as Communications Director for a couple SEIU puppet groups.

For a Communications Director, Ms. Choi is remarkably incoherent:

Choi said Bank of America has taken $45 billion from taxpayers to help stimulate the economy, but instead of giving workers and consumers a little luck, all they created was more greed. In addition to that, Choi said that while the institution has the highest fees of any bank in the nation, its CEO earns nearly $4,800 an hour, while his employees make only $10.50 an hour.

I am baffled as to what "giving workers and consumers a little luck" might possibly mean. Lottery tickets? I am, however, mortally certain that the surest way to drive Bank of America further into the ditch would be to let people like Monica Choi set its fees and employee compensation.

That lavish executive pay and the bank's inability to provide more consumer and small business lending is what sparked the group into action, she added.

"This is the people's opportunity to take it to the streets," said Choi.

"And also," she thought to herself, "my opportunity to use those old sixties slogans Grandma always told me about."

By the way, the "action day" yesterday has its own website, takebacktheeconomy.org: you'll note that the Foster's reporter used this slogan uncritically in his headline. It shows that the national effort was sponsored not only by SEIU, but more of the usual left/Democrat pressure groups: ACORN, Moveon.org, Rock the Vote, etc. And once again, the Foster's reporter might have disclosed this backing in his article, but apparently was too busy with uncritical copying of the tendentious talking points.

The hour-long demonstration featured protesters holding a variety of signs and handing out pamphlets urging passers-by to get involved and tell Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Judd Gregg to support President Barack Obama's budget.

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention: the groups involved in this action are solid partisan shock troops backing whatever Obama is doing this week. At least for now. As their invitation put it: "Congress needs to join us and President Obama to deliver real change…"

Or: "Please lie down right here, and remain quiet as the steamroller approaches…"

By passing the budget and the Employee Free Choice Act, coupled with strong banking reform, Choi said the government could begin to ease the pressure on working-class citizens.

Sure it could. But here's an opposite view that won't be making it into Foster's anytime soon:

Ronald Reagan's famous line that "government is the problem" kept going through my head as the AIG hearing demonstrated the dangers of Washington's role in the economy. The very people, Republicans and Democrats alike, who can't balance America's budget now claim the expertise to run banks, insurance companies and automakers.

If we let them, we're dumber than they are.

Indeed.

So to summarize: Foster's decided to put an SEIU press release at the top of their front page today. Is this the newspaper's full-fledged dive into the fetid water of left-wing advocacy journalism? Or are they just stupid? I don't think there's a third possibility.

(Pun Salad's previous screeds about stupid stuff in Foster's: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)


Last Modified 2012-10-08 1:06 PM EST