Monday, June 06, 2005

Liars

Many have written about the bias of the Journal Star Editorial Board and the board has countered saying how “fair the JS is in its Editorials and “letters to the editors.” Not only is the JS often not fair; some of them the editors are LIARS. You know that Barbara Mantz Drake is the Editorial Page Editor and Jack Brimeyer is Editor so the buck should stop with Brimeyer who heads the Peoria Division of the Copley Press. Under Barbara, who is retiring in August (rumor is she is retiring under pressure from their San Diego Headquarters) is Mike Bailey who I understand handles the “letters to the editor”. I’ll print only what I can verify. Let’s start with a column in the JS recently that says “Now letter writers are restricted to one letter every two months”. A lie; A “letter to the Editor” appeared on May 7, 05 written by John Blossom, Jr. and another letter written by John Blossom appeared June 6, 05 on the editorial page. A call to John who I know, verified that he was the SAME writer, but the JSEB left the Jr. off the second article probably to try to fool the people so it wouldn’t look like they violated their policy again. This is not an isolated issue. The Journal Star on more than one occasion denied to many the opportunity to immediately answer letters that contained outright lies or character assassinations by the writer, making the person attacked wait two months to reply.

“Personal attacks, inappropriate letters and letters that are widely inaccurate don’t run” appears in this same column. This column also quotes Barbara Drake “We are criticized all the time that we only chose letters that agree with our point of view.” Drake continued “Nothing could be further than the truth.” (Now I know where Roger Allen of the Park District got that phrase when he was denying the financial straits of the park district that goes deeper into bonded indebtedness every year).


Last week, a “letter to the editors” wrote this about new Mayor Jim Ardis, “Peoria elected a grossly incompetent person to the office of mayor, he is employed by an out-of-county company and the list goes on.” Grossly incompetent would be called “widely inaccurate” by those of us who helped elect Mr.Ardis. At least the JSEB should have made the writer justify exactly how Mr. Ardis is “grossly incompetent”. I learned tonight that this letter was written in the heat of the campaign but just now released by the JSEB for the public to read. But then the JSEB never thought Ardis would win over the incumbent they heavily endorsed, so this is probably the start of a series of letters assassinating our new mayor that the “fair” JSEB will be running. Past Caterpillar President Glen Barton, in a letter to the editor critiqued the JSEB for some action by the JS that Mr. Barton rightly believed to be unfair. Mike Bailey found Mr. Barton’s attitude a bit “too negative” so Mike wrote a whole editorial criticizing Mr. Barton and justifying the actions of the JSEB. (12/05/04.)

How about Retired Cat President Bob Gilmore’s letter criticizing the JSEB? It surely wasn’t complimentary to the JSEB either. For some reason Mr. Bailey didn’t attack Mr. Gilmore like he did Mr. Barton.

On 5/25/05 the JSEB asks “why more don’t run for council?” In fact why would good people run for any office covered by JS reporters and receive the bile of the JSEB? Can they be serious? The JS “character assassinates” everyone they don’t like. Eldon Pohlemus, was reelected to the county board for the second time over a candidate the JSEB endorsed. In their editorial endorsing Mr. Pohlemus opponent, these editors bashed Eldon in every paragraph, yet Eldon was easily reelected. Eldon, who had served 14 years on the county board, was not given credit for anything he ever did.

The article further states “that running for office shouldn’t be so daunting.”
What a crock!! The Journal Star headed by John McConnell and Jack Brimeyer publish the most biased and divisive newspaper maybe in the whole U.S. Part of the failure to bring well paying jobs into this community lies at their doorstep. A large part of the failure to get people with established reputations to run for office lies totally at their doorstep. Maybe Copley press is beginning to pay more attention. (I sent Copley a large number of documents by registered mail. They did not acknowledge. Can someone help me get their internet number so I can link some of what I write directly to their website)? My email is merlewidmer@msn.com.

On 2/01/04 the JSEB said in editorials, “Innocent until guilty standard must be protected” and on 6/0104, “Rush to judgment can sweep up the innocent.” An article written by Andy Kravetz (more about Mr. Kravetz later, who evidently has trouble reading police reports), dated 3/10/01 titled “Jury acquits Jones of theft.” What a blow to the JS City Desk manager who had his reporters try to indict, find Mr. Jones guilty and maybe even set the sentence. Not only was Mr. Jones, the owner of a local insurance agency, found not guilty, he sued both of the parties that filed claims against him, winning one settlement he told me was around $8 million dollars. Mr. Jones had his picture appear twice in the JS (looked like these picture were taken in the booking room) but on 11/29/01 the JS announced that “Jones sues Peoria County “to clear name”, his picture in a business attire was not shown. That suit may still be pending, but the County Board is not part of the lawsuit. This fiasco started when my predecessor was on the County Board living next door to a well known insurance magnet that I was told wanted this county business for his own company. I don’t blame anyone for wanting county insurance business.

Many of you remember Bennett Woolsey, owner of Jones Bros. Jewelry, who committed suicide many years ago after being harassed repeatedly in the JS. His family told me the continued embarrassment printed on a regular basis in the JS, may have caused him to take his life. Bennett may have made a mistake but didn’t deserve the way the JS constantly harassed him.

In 1993, while I was running for the Presidency of the Peoria Park Board, the JBEB allowed a letter to the editors to be printed claiming that “While Widmer served on the county board, its taxes increased 25%.” Mike Bailey of the JSEB knew this was a blatant lie but permitted the letter to run. The letter was signed by a Gary Martin. The same letter appeared a few days later in the Observer under the name Gary Martin of Martin Fager Communications Company. Turned out Martin Fager was a major supplier to the PPD yet only the Observer asked who he worked for. Did he have an axe to grind; you bet and the JS allowed him to lie and print his lies. Bias and lies; you bet!

I’ll be back later with more of the misconceptions, subtle falsehoods and outright lies that appear or have appeared with some regularity in the JS.

In the meantime consider the prominent local official arrested recently on a DUI at 1:30 AM. He wrecked his car so bad it flattened three tires. Had that been some other elected or ranking Peoria Regional official that the JS didn’t like, I believe the incident would have drawn more than an obscure 31/2 inch column!! Fair reporting, you bet!!

5 comments:

Stormin' Norman said...

Join the club. A couple months ago they published a letter of mine which simply asked a rhetorical question regarding whether the war in Iraq was a wise move. Shortly thereafter the PJS response was to publish a letter from a soldier in Iraq, who directly called me a ‘coward’. A coward? You mean someone who is fearful? Fearful of what? I thought this reflected poorly on PJS for printing a letter that resorted to name calling. I knew the ‘coward’ remark in no way reflects how I lead my life, yet it reflected poorly on this soldier, whose only rebuttal to an argument is to start calling people names. This made me wonder somewhat what the JSEB motives were in this regard, but since I asked a rhetorical question in the first place, it really doesn’t matter to me one way or the other...JNH

Anonymous said...

I often wondered about Balraj's DUI and why it didn't garner more attention. Kind of like when Pete Vonachen hit a person with his car late at night.....didn't hear much about that either.

Angela Anderson said...

Though my experience was not as nearly as severe as yours, I felt the JSEB invented things in their non-endorsement of me. They wrote that I wanted to eliminate the Office of Economic Development. Said office was never mentioned in the interview. I noticed Dan Gillette (who ran against Pat Nichting) was criticized for not believing in inter-govermental cooperation (ie:, city/county/state). Both Gillette and I wrote letters to the editor correcting their "errors." I can not speak for Gillette, but mine was printed without any editing. Nonetheless, if I were a candidate, I would think long and hard before submitting to a JSEB interview again. The experience left me with the impression that if they didn't have anything on you, they'd make something up. We are lucky to live in a place where people seem to know not to put much stock in their endorsements as evidenced by your wins and the last local election. No one deserves what you went through. Best wishes.

cal skinner said...

My local paper in Crystal Lake, called the Northwest Herald, has a similar letter policy. One may only write one letter per month.

So much for being able to reply in a timely fashion, if one has recently written a letter to the editor.

Anonymous said...

I thought that I was the only ine that considered the JS the most biased newspaper I have seen. It's news is so lopped sided it is hard to get at the truth. I don't believe that there is any truth any where in the building.

So why is it still doing what it has always done? Because in spite of their slant on the news people still buy it. If people quit buying the JS they would be more open to listening to the people. I don't read it and don't have it delivered to my house. I will not pay for favortism and untruths.