Why is the people's newspaper leading the Freakiest City in America?

Submission rejected by the Asheville Citizen Times as not important enough for the guest section.


After inquiring three times about the status of a submission for a guest column, I was advised that the writing about the recent beheading of a schoolmaster in Afghanistan by the Taliban, their angry he was using his new found democracy from the U.S. to educate teenage girls, would not be running as more important content had been selected over the several months the article had been morphing into old news while sitting on an editor's desk.  Ah shucks!

I had wondered if the Asheville Citizen Times (AC-T) was talking about the kind of content it had selected for its April 1st 2006 issue, where a citizen living in the area with a B.S. degree (no pun intended) from the University of Wisconsin (no surprise) reported that the farts from cows and humans that eat meat were polluting the earth’s environment.

Isn’t it enough Rolling Stones Magazine in 2001 named Asheville, North Carolina, the Freakiest City in America?  Locals just hate the label!  Yet in this same April issue, the AC-T boldly placed above the cover fold a story that at least six willing men had traveled from abroad and across the nation to come to the secular-progressive area to be castrated in “Master Rick’s” dungeon. 

I bet the developers promoting those expensive condos at “The Cliffs” near Asheville, using full-color double-truck ads in the AC-T itself, just loved their prospects reading on the newspaper's front page about a local operation that was in the business of removing and transplanting testicles.  The article went on to report using the best words for political correctness; “ -- the [voluntary] surgical removal of the testicles -- is a form of sex change for some people.”   The AC-T could have easily used the more condensed and better-written Associated Press version and parked it on page three.  Don’t you just love living in the mountains?

Then, oh my God (pardon my loss for words), in again the same issue an editorial complained of the lack of ethics reform in the U.S. Congress, listing Republicans who had taken funds.  Yet the name of a leading Democrat in Washington, who had received funds indirectly from the now famous Abramoff, but had said he wasn’t going to give back the money, was left out of the story.  Ah, shucks.

The editor didn’t even mention that under the leadership of the Democrat Governor of North Carolina, there had been no ethics legislation to make North Carolina lawmakers accountable, as reported by Matt Mittan on the 570 AM program, “Take a Stand.”  Matt had attributed the recent abuses of Speaker Jim Black to the lack of ethics legislation in state government, the AC-T in another editorial not even giving Mittan credit for his being the only one in the major markets of North Carolina's media to be pushing the issue in the early days of this story. Mittan had been so aggressive that several newspapers in the state could no longer ignore the story, including the AC-T, which we were told was one of the last ones to finally get on board.

Need readers be reminded that the AC-T wouldn’t even print the picture of the captured Saddam Hussein . . . that it buried back near its comics a 2004 press release from the prestigious Center for Disease Control (CDC), warnings STDs could come in contact with 50% of today’s teenage population . . . that the people's newspaper had used an entire front page to report that Hollywood director Steven Spielberg might be (could be) buying a condo in Asheville . . . that in December 2005 the AC-T had run a large article titled. “The Beat still resonates,” reporting on a local reading of Allen Ginsberg’s “The Howl.”  The article warned, “You wouldn’t want your children to come across it.” 

Would anyone believe that while the AC-T glorified Ginsberg, it had somehow forgotten to advise its readers that Ginsberg was an active supporter of the North American Love Boy Association  (NAMBLA), Camille Paglia of Salon.com writing about Ginsberg on her Web site, “Seen from this pagan perspective, Ginsberg's celebration of boy-love was pure and sinless, demonstrating the limitations of Judeo-Christian paradigms of sexuality.”

The Asheville Citizen Times even lacked simple class when reporting the recent marriage of the popular Hollywood actress, Andie McDowell, who resides in the area. An editor wrote in a lead-in McDowell would be marrying a used-car salesman.  Wouldn’t you think a newspaper owned by the Gannett Publishing Empire, might instead report, “Andie McDowell to marry successful Asheville businessman?” (See an example of how it was handled in another publication.)

But what can one expect from reported articles published on April Fools Day?  You can’t make this stuff up.



This original submission, at the time in the length of about 695, was rejected on April 5, 2006, by the AC-T's editorial staff. They said they were very selective in placing articles in the limited space they had available in their opinion forum, and to this end had rejected the piece. They said it was rejected because they disagreed with the writing that Mittan had lead the effort to bring Speaker Black to justice for the way he had handled a new lottery game for the state of North Carolina, our following Mittan on the radio early on and his shock that no other media source was interested in pursuing the story.

The AC-T editorial staff had told me an independent Web site had been pushing this issue first, but I had only intended to compared Mittan to the accepted daily North Carolina public media resources of radio, newspapers, and television. However, we believed the Web site writer would had agreed that Mittan was the driving force behind this issue, which had allowed it to become a major story in North Carolina news circles.

I had asked the newspaper to call the Web source to clear this up. They declined on the bases they were too busy, which of course is their decision. I had written about Mittan's efforts in the submission, because I had admired the courage of this independent radio talk show host to go up against corrupt North Carolina state politics, especially in the light of his having a child on the way and our not knowing the influence these politics would have on his employer or his employment. He has become very popular, his venue running three hours each weekday from 3 - 6 pm between the national radio talk show hosts of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. You can listen to his program live every day via the Internet from a link on our homepage.

Of course this submission was only an editorial in the first place. I believe an editorial is still called an opinion piece in the print industry. So I don't understand all the "he said, she said" rantings, which in the end had caused my submission to be rejected by the Asheville Citizen Times. I still believe the under-the-table purpose was instead to keep the other information in the piece from getting to its readers, the newspaper proclaiming it's boilerplate as "The Voice of the Mountains."

The AC-T is the major newspaper of record for Asheville, North Carolina, showered with awards from its owner, Gannett, publisher of the USA Today international newspaper. I wrote to Gannett's CEO last year, asking why they were giving awards to a newspaper that had buried an important CDC health warning away from its readers while finding it important that an entire cover page should be dedicated to the admitted rumor that the Hollywood director, Steven Spielberg, might be, could be, should be buying a condo in downtown Asheville. Gannett never replied to me.

It is my belief the AC-T is assisting Asheville to continue to be seen as the Freakiest City in America, in part based on the information we had tried to bring forward. This is not to be confused with San Francisco, which probably is the most bazaar and arrogant city in America. With the newspaper's entertainment and sports sections some of the best we've seen, our argument must lay only at the feet of its editorial news department, the heart of any newspaper.

Doesn't this all make you feel warm and fuzzy about America's Fourth Estate for fair and balanced reporting? The concept of a Fourth Estate was created by our forefathers so you, John Q. Public, would be able to make proper decisions on the running of your democracy based on information being fed to you that would give all sides to a story . . . in other words your right to know.

According to the last time I checked with the Constitution of the United States of America, this democracy was still owned by its citizens and not by the media. I think there is no doubt today that the tail is trying to wage the dog.

The Fourth Estate had early on in our country's history been given freedom of the press to ensure it would be able to provide the news without being colored by the influence of wealthy and powerful individuals and institutions that could benefit personally, as is the case today within countries that are being lead by dictatorships, socialized, and communist governments.

But then in the mid 1970s the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) seemed to be created to change all that, the organization even boldly removing the word "religion" from its recommended diversity hiring page for journalists, which is one of those serious rights you're not supposed to discriminate against when hiring an employee. I had written to the ASNE of the error two years ago, wondering how the ASNE could recommend to newspapers that they could discriminate in the hiring of journalists based on their religious faith. There was no response, which says they obviously don't see it as an error, but instead as a secular-given right of passage.

I had also tried to submit a letter to the editor at the Asheville Citizen Times, of what the ASNE had done. I received a curt reply saying "religion" was under "other."

I guess that makes this just another "Ah, shucks" day, eh?





"Freedom is Knowledge"