I am not normally given to exclamation points. I attended a fairly aggressive journalism school, with a print newspaper focus, and exclamation points were, shall we say, frowned upon. We could even say ridiculed. Nonetheless, I am writing a column, with somewhat greater freedom.
And: I think we are at an important time in America. Maybe even an inflection point. If you, we, feel as strongly about these issues as you say, vote. Don’t complain. Don’t repost some Facebook status or mean meme. You have the power to affect the outcome. It’s called voting. Doing anything on Facebook is just ranting.
Plus, we have seen in recent weeks that Facebook’s commitment to the truth isn’t particularly steady. The company has decided – deliberately, mind you – to allow politicians to post and pay for advertising even if it is demonstrably false. Yes, false. Supposedly, this is being done in the name of democracy.
I’ll tell you what it’s being done in the name – the almighty dollar. Nothing complex about this in the slightest.
We have been criticized here, at The Newsroom, for some of the political advertising we have carried in the past. I have spoken or replied to every single person who called in or emailed. But I will tell you that the issues in play were matters of opinion, not fact. It was political speech and yes, it was opinionated. And, our business is, after all, about selling advertising and helping merchants, tradespeople and service providers reach customers. Yes, politicians too.
This idea of deliberately allowing the spreading of falsehoods is, to me, beyond the pale. A number of Facebook employees, in fact, are rebelling and believe the policy will be bad for the company. I agree.
For that matter, if you want a robust exchange of views – and who among us doesn’t? – check out both the letters here and on page 5, and the candidate advertising throughout the paper. And then, vote.
I have said before, and
continue to believe, that the Judge’s race will be tighter than some are expecting. Of course, the numbers favor Joe Spofford, and that he is from the more populous side of the county, where he’s been a town judge in Carmel. But Camille Linson, a town judge in Philipstown, has likewise been campaigning aggressively and, as we learned from the sheriff’s race two years back, it is possible for a Democrat to win countywide. Not easy, but clearly possible. All the more reason, no matter which candidate you support, to realize that your vote could make the difference. Get out there.
What I’m listening to: The podcast Broken, about the Jeffrey Epstein case. I actually started with episode 5, An Outsider’s Way In, which chronicled reporter Julie K. Brown’s dogged efforts to nail down the story, which she did, ultimately leading to a cabinet secretary’s resignation, Epstein’s arrest, his suicide in jail, and the sordid unraveling of the system that protected, even coddled, him.
The Daily, from the New York Times, is also quite good this week, especially the episodes from Monday and Tuesday on vaping and the deaths and grave illnesses that surfaced this year. Who would have thought that some of these people might still be alive if they had just continued to smoke ordinary cigarettes? All these years fighting cigarette smoking, and the federal government passes on seriously regulating vaping, which turns out to be more dangerous and more deadly, faster. Go figure.
We erred last week in describing the Kent Library budget, substituting a figure for total spending when referring to the increase being sought. The proposed increase is vastly smaller. See the letter from the library director on page 5 for more details.
Until next week.
Doug Cunningham is editor of the PCNR, in Cold Spring, and of the Putnam County Courier. Reach him at 845-265-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters are welcome and should be 500 words or less.
I wrote last week about Richard Nixon’s Checkers speech, and how we needed a similar clear-the-air speech in Mahopac. And that we had a poodle, Hazel, and she and I were waiting for Checkers. Hazel is here, waiting.