I read with interest Lance Tapley’s article “Maine-ufacturing consent” in the February 3 issue of the Phoenix. For your information, there are several area writers who keep watch on the Portland Press Herald and, as we are able, respond to its failure to be a fair and responsible reporter.
Occasionally, we get a letter published and, more rarely, an op-ed. It’s tough when you have to rely on the fairness of the staff to allow serious criticism to enter the editorial page, but we keep trying. Even if we are not published, the process, at least, keeps some bit of heat on the editors and, equally important, keeps the people below them in the organization aware that the filtering goes on.
Another writer, John Costin, has recently scored a victory by getting his critique of M.D. Harmon’s anti-Muslim rantings published in a letter. He was published only after engaging Mr. Harmon in direct debate through e-mail and then cc-ing everyone else in the organization to the point that he was hard to ignore. I too have written rebuttals to some of Mr. Harmon’s ugly prose, but to no effect.
The paper’s position on Iraq is another area in which they studiously avoid debate. They have demonstrated unwavering support for Bush’s war, but changing the reasons for that support as each previous reason has become ludicrous. One of my letters challenging their position was certainly filtered by an editorial staff unable to defend their position and afraid to allow critique of it.
Another troubling sign is the ease with which politicians are able to manipulate the news. Back in November, a “news article” appeared in the Portland Press Herald reporting that Senator Collins had set a new record for consecutive roll call votes in the senate. It was an Associated Press byline and had all the appearance of being reported by an impartial source. The entire article was simply a retelling of a press release from Senator Collins’s office, two-thirds of which was verbatim.
As for the Democrats, there’s hope, but the hope is not with the national Democrats now in office. It is with a tough, smart and growing cadre of local activists who came alive in 2003. Whether we will make a difference remains to be seen, but, as long as we are having fun, don’t count us out.
We are very concerned at the way our soldiers are being mistreated while serving in the military.
Last year we heard of wounded soldiers being sent from Iraq to Fort Stewart, Georgia, to be housed in brick-crete buildings that had no ventilation, heat, or indoor bathroom facilities. Even the Roman soldiers in England in 150 BC had indoor plumbing.
Many soldiers’ families had to purchase body armor because the government did not offer them this essential protection. Two weeks ago we read that the Army has ordered that soldiers may not use this commercially bought body armor or they could face discipline and loss of their $400,000 death benefit. However, the generals in Iraq are allowed to wear this type of armor. The Marine Corps has reported that 80% of the 403 Marines killed in Iraq might have survived if they had worn this body armor.