In “The Death of a President: November 1963,” historian William Manchester writes about Ted Dealey, the publisher of the Dallas Morning News and his relentless ire and bias against President John F. Kennedy, which fueled two years of resentment and anger in the public discourse leading up to November 22, 1963.
For example, “In the fall of 1961 [Mr. Dealey] was one of a group of Texas publishers who had been invited to a White House lunch. To the astonishment of his fellow guests he had produced and read aloud a savage indictment of his host. He wanted everyone to know that Ted Dealey was no moron ‘to be led around by the nose’ or lured ‘to your side by soft soap.’ He had reached the conclusion that … What we needed was ‘a man on horseback to lead this nation, and many people in Texas and the Southwest think that you are riding Caroline’s tricycle.’”
A newspaper editor decides what is news and what is not; he decides which story gets the splashy, front page headline and which one gets buried on the bottom of page five; he decides how to frame the story to lead the reader to a conclusion; he decides which pictures best feed the narrative; he decides which public officials to investigate and which ones to let slide; he decides which guest columns and letters to the editor to publish; he decides which questions he wants to answer and which ones to ignore.
LAST WEEK’S LETTER
The only published letter to the editor in last week’s The Anderson News was very short, and it read, in part, “Somewhere in history we stopped hanging people for stealing someone else’s horse. That was a mistake.”
Publishing this letter — and only this letter, as well as its placement at the top of the Opinion page — was an editorial decision.
In ACS teacher Rebecca Potter’s letter last week, she wrote that the Editor of The Anderson News had “blocked many who disagreed with him — including several teachers who tried to express their concern — from commenting on the newspaper’s Facebook post [about CRT].” Why did the editor block teachers and others from commenting on the newspaper’s Facebook page?
THE ALLEGED SQUAD
In the August 18 Anderson News, the editor called out the “local Squad and its acolytes” and connected them New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Who comprises said Squad? What are their names? Are they specifically Hispanic women? Women of color? All women? All Democrats? Liberals in general? The editor needs to clarify.
The editor recently reported that former county attorney Azzinaro changed her registration to Republican when he has not reported on any men — current elected officials, even — who have changed their party registration. Why?
On the efficacy of masks, why did the editor choose to present exclusively the detailed, front-page perspective — two weeks in a row — of an occupational therapist but nothing from a local doctor board certified in public health and emergency medicine?
The Anderson County Health Department lists 53 dead of Covid-19. Why has the editor chosen not to list Covid-19 as the cause of ANY of these 53 deaths?
COUNTY ATTORNEY WIEDO
In a front page article on October 20, the editor quoted County Attorney Robert Wiedo as saying, “During that transition period we simply had to make due [sic] and we did the best that we could.” Why did Mr. Weido decide not to hire, even if for a transition period only, any of the the 3 women who had working knowledge of the office? I asked this question and more a month ago. Mr. Wiedo is running for re-election. Why has the editor, nor CA Wiedo, chosen not to provide an answer?
In Manchester’s book, he writes of the Dallas Morning News that “In the two months before Kennedy’s last trip to Texas there was something almost Orwellian about the News” and that Kennedy was “often portrayed as a Judas who followed ‘the communist line, which is an atheistic, godless line’; who supported forces of disorders with ‘communist-front affiliations’; who champions unwed motherhood, welfare chislers, and ‘compulsory unionism’; and who was eager to take ‘a man’s income tax and, without his permission, spend it abroad as ‘foreign aid’ … But it is idle to look for subtle delineations in the New’s concept of the President. The paper was mounting an all-out assault on him.”
Mr. Dealey made these editorial decisions even as the following words from his father were sculpted on the facade of the Dallas Morning News’s building:
BUILD THE NEWS UPON THE ROCK OF TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS CONDUCTED ALWAYS UPON THE LINES OF FAIRNESS AND INTEGRITY ACKNOWLEDGE THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO GET FROM THE NEWSPAPER BOTH SIDES OF EVERY IMPORTANT QUESTION ~ G. B. DEALEY
A newspaper editor has singular power and responsibility in that he/she controls and guides public discourse.
I would argue that in 2021, the most divisive factor in Anderson County, Kentucky is not our politics, it is our newspaper and its corresponding Facebook page.
Why does this matter? It squashes public debate and keeps otherwise good people from openly participating in dialogue, local groups, or running for office for fear of the ending up on the wrong side of a powerful newspaper editor who may not, for lack of a better word, like them.
This does not make for a healthy society. The citizens of Anderson County deserve better.