2010-03-25 / Front Page

Putnam County Courier Statement in Response to Email Sent by Office of Rep. John Hall

Note:  The email sent by the campaign of Rep. John Hall (NY-19) attacking the Courier to raise money appears below the Courier's statement.

Putnam County Courier Statement in Response to Email Sent by the Office of Rep. John Hall
March 25, 2010
by Joe Lindsley Jr. 
Putnam County Courier
COLD SPRING, NY--Today, United States Congressman John Hall (D, NY-19), in an inappropriate and gratuitous attack on the owners of the Putnam County Courier, signaled a meltdown in Washington. In an email titled “Attacked by Fox!” the congressman’s office accused our newspaper of being a “local mouthpiece of Fox News” and accused us of printing “lies and unfounded accusations" in a March 25 article titled, "Hall Sides with Sweeping Health Care Legislation."
Although this newspaper is owned by an employee of Fox News, that employee has no involvement on a day-to-day basis, and he had no knowledge of this article and no part in writing it. Fox News is a national and international television news network. The Putnam County Courier focuses entirely on local news, except when a local representative makes news outside of the county. Fox News is also the number one news network in America and simply is not involved with local newspapers.
One item in the original article about possible jail time for not purchasing health insurance unfortunately needed to be corrected and will be corrected by our paper. Our information was from an earlier draft of the health care bill, which was modified in the draft signed into law this week. Notwithstanding, it is the first time in American history that a law has been passed, which Congressman Hall voted for, which forces citizens to buy health insurance even if they don’t want it. That mandate is being constitutionally challenged by other members of Congress as well as attorneys general in many states.
We have covered Congressman Hall fairly from day one, and if factual mistakes occur in our coverage, we will always correct them immediately. During the past year, his office has, on occasion, called us to complain about items in particular stories. But, until now, despite what the congressman's email suggests, they have never taken issue with our reporting of the facts. We think today is special because Congressman Hall is feeling the heat from his constituents in New York's 19th district, who, siding with the majority of Americans, do not like this health care law, as they believe that it costs too much money and gives the government too much control.
The congressman might not be used to a local newspaper taking politics seriously, but our readers value enterprising reporting. With high unemployment, an economic recession, and some of the highest taxes in the nation, the citizens of Putnam County expect their newspaper to take politics seriously and to let them know how their congressman votes. That is in the public’s best interest, and that is why our newspaper reports this information.
Rep. Hall’s inaccurate and almost hysterical attack on Mr. Roger Ailes is seen by this paper as an attempt to deflect the public from scrutiny of his voting record. He will also use this to raise money and appeal to his base. He overlooks the fact that most residents of Putnam County treat people with more civility.
Hours before that email missive was fired off this afternoon, his chief of staff had a cordial conversation with one of our reporters about a concern she had with part of the story in question. Imagine our surprise, then, to see the language in the mass email, which claimed our article about his health care vote was a “lie masquerading as a news article.”
If Rep. Hall is proud of his vote on the health care bill, he should simply say so and not attack journalists for informing the public that that vote was made. We intend to treat everybody in political life with the same level of fairness regardless of their party and regardless of their sensitivity level. Journalists are never intended to be attack dogs, nor lap dogs. They are intended to be watchdogs and report what actually happens.
RE:  "Hall Sides with Sweeping Health Care Legislation," March 25 issue of the Putnam County Courier
Earlier versions of the health care bill said that if you didn’t purchase health insurance you could go to jail. That provision has been removed. The law now includes a “waiver of criminal penalties”: “In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.” Additionally, President Obama signed the bill into law on Tuesday, March 23, not Monday, March 22. We regret the errors.
Here is the email in question sent by Rep. John Hall's campaign to supporters and donors on Thursday, March 25:

Dear Friends,

Today I was attacked by a local mouthpiece of Fox News for my vote in favor of health care insurance reform.

Roger Ailes, the founder and CEO of Fox News recently took over one of the local newspapers in my district, the Putnam County Courier. Since being taken over by the leader of Fox, they have repeatedly attacked me with lies and unfounded accusations. But today's lies are the worst yet. Today they stated: "The health care reform measure mandates that individuals buy health insurance (and possibly go to jail if they fail to do so).." This is not an editorial, and it has no source. It is a right wing lie masquerading as a news article.

These are the kind of attacks I am already facing. They will only get louder and meaner as the upcoming election gets closer.

I need your help to fight against these right wing lies, and tell the truth about what is in this historic health care legislation. I want to tell people that insurance companies will no longer be able to drop your coverage when you get sick and need it the most. I want to tell Seniors how we are closing the Medicare donut hole to reduce the cost of over-priced prescription medications.

But I need your help to continue this fight against the Fox News lies. Please contribute $25, $50, $100, $250, or whatever you can afford to help me get re-elected.


John Hall


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