Paper should fact-check
As a subscriber and financial supporter of the paper, I request that either (managing editor Craig) Staszkow or (editor and publisher Nathan) Alford publish a piece on the Opinion page outlining whether and how the opinion columns published in the Daily News are subject to fact-checking by Daily News staff. I believe the adage in journalism is “Comment is free but facts are sacred.”
Numerous examples imply to me that Mr. Staszkow does not check facts in these pieces. The latest and most egregious example is Scotty Anderson’s attempt to claim the attack on the Capitol was the result of antifa infiltration. This is not an opinion (“Antifa is bad.”), but a claim of fact, of what actually happened (“Antifa caused the violence.”).
Does Anderson have any evidence of this? The wearing of “black clothing and antifa-style black helmets” is not evidence. Or is this just something Mr. Anderson read somewhere on the internet and really wants to believe? It is still too early to be sure (arrests are underway), but all the facts so far suggest Mr. Anderson spread a very dangerous lie. Not an opinion, a lie. Shame on him. And shame on Mr. Staszkow for not asking him to delete that statement from his column until the evidence is in.
If I want to read rumors and conspiracy theories, I’ll use Facebook. If Mr. Alford and Mr. Staszkow cannot, in writing, commit to fact-checking all of their pages, they don’t deserve our financial support. If your readers agree, I would urge them to also write the editor requesting a fact-checking policy.
I question my support
I find this paper has put me in a position where I now must question my support of your local journalism, given the decision of the editor to publish and highlight the recent piece by Scotty Anderson. In the face of an unprecedented attack on the Capitol and the very bedrock of our democracy, the legitimacy of our elections, this paper allowed Scotty the space to repeat baseless, dangerous claims.
The MAGA mob attacked the seat of the worlds’ oldest modern democracy at the urging of the president and his allies, and this paper allowed Scotty to stamp his feet and cry: “but antifa, but BLM!” You gave him your platform to claim that antifa was there inciting violence. His evidence? Some people present were wearing black helmets and clothing. You allowed him the space to declare that at a rally full of Trump supporters who openly posted the proof of their own culpability to their own social media accounts that actually “the same individuals who have been emboldened all year by the Democrats’ support and praise are closely tied to the lawlessness at the Capitol.”
While the assault was still taking place, while more level heads on both sides urged the president to calm the situation, he gave them support, saying: “we love you, you’re very special.” No, Scotty says, this was antifa. This scapegoating is irresponsible and dangerous, and this paper made the decision to be a part of it, because Scotty saw black.
In his Jan. 9 column, Scotty Anderson states “pictures … suggest the same dudes wearing the antifa-style… were present and mixed in the crowd” and “they seemed to incite some of the violence we saw.” In an appropriately sanctimonious tone he critiques “Trump supporters who followed the lead of antifa” into the Capitol.
Mr. Anderson couches his false premises softly (“seemed to”) doubtless because he suspects they are untrue. Reuters, endorsed by numerous outlets including Business Insider as the standard for unbiased reporting, debunks all such nonsense already on their fact-checker page.
So he is wrong. But this doesn’t stop him from stating his conclusion with the confidence of a detective in a TV mystery: “The same individuals … are closely tied to the lawlessness at the Capitol.” The comedy of Mr. Anderson’s seduction by an argument so sympathetic to Trump power is far outweighed by the unbounded danger of such lies. As the insurrection demonstrates, it is easy to confuse people, as repeated lies about the election confused Trump supporters who hungrily gobbled that nonsense and violently defecated on our constitution with the first sedition of our lifetimes.
So convinced of their righteousness, they did not hide their manifest premeditation as numerous news outlets of all persuasions report with overwhelming hard evidence. Even the column title is prevaricatingly pillowy: whether it’s a riot or a protest “might depend on your side of the aisle.”
For a self-described conservative, this is a shockingly promiscuous embrace of moral relativism. There is nothing relative about what occurred which was an absolute desecration of constitutional democracy for all Americans including Independents, Republicans, Democrats and nonvoters. The notion that party affiliation has anything whatsoever to do with the definition of what happened shows an abysmal confusion, one unfortunately shared by a large minority of our population.
Timothy R. Ginn
Paper owes readers
The Daily News owes it to readers to fact-check editorials appearing on their Opinion page. Not doing so implies that the opinion is truth, even when based on misleading statements or falsehoods
Case in point is Scotty Anderson’s recent opinion piece (Daily News, Jan. 9) stating in part that the so-called “antifa’’ group was responsible for inciting and leading Trump supporters in attacking the U.S. Capitol Jan 6. According to the FBI, there was no evidence that antifa connections were involved (CNBC and Forbes Business, Jan. 8). The theory that anarchists of a leftist antifa group perpetrated the Capitol violence is being disproved by ongoing identification of the actual leaders (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 9). Also, facial-recognition software has identified no antifa members among the actual participants (The Washington Post, Usero, Jan. 9). Of course, one can deny our sources of information, including the national press and federal agencies, making it even more imperative for established, widely respected newspapers to identify incorrect items and present the facts.
Opinion is not fact. Presenting unproven conspiracy theories and falsehoods as “alternative facts” endangers our civil society. There is only one set of facts, and opinions or speculations should be identified as such on an opinion page.
Rick Nolting and Rosalind Liams
Seek the truth
It’s encouraging to see Republican leaders resign or distance themselves from Trump. But they are only the ones who always knew who he was and chose to remain silent. How many versions of “ignore his personality, focus on policy?” or “pray for the president, don’t criticise him” did you hear? Those who saw who he was but chose to remain silent are guilty, but worse they have fed the monster conspiracy theory. And now we have misinformed armed thugs, led by our president, who are convinced they are doing the right thing. They will continue and I fear it will get much worse. Folks, for the sake of this country, seek the truth.
God’s blessings needed
As the world looked at our tried and true process of democracy, we heard of protesters storming the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. I am — and I am sure others are as well — disheartened to see few angry protesters attack our democratic institutions to turn the outcome of an election in their favor. I wish they would have taken steps per our constitution.
Democracy is not easy; someone must lose so that a victor may emerge. The counting of the electoral votes will certify a winner, leaving behind almost half the country who may feel they have lost. I want to tell them all that the proper execution of our democratic processes is our victory. Please know that we — your friends and neighbors — are here, and we must unite in the name of love, peace, absolute justice.
My spiritual leader, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, focused on human rights and love in his new year’s message. He said that the path to true happiness is when we start recognizing the rights we owe to each other and when we turn hatred into love. These steps also lead to a path of peace and absolute justice and that they are greater than the victory of one political party over another. I urge everyone to pray that God may heal our nation’s deep divisions. Whether you believe in God or not, practicing love, peace and absolute justice will help us heal any divisions between us. May God bless our great nation and its people.
“We know that that attack today, it didn’t materialize out of nowhere, it was inspired by lies — the same lies that you’re hearing in this room tonight. The members who are repeating those lies should be ashamed of themselves. Their constituents should be ashamed of them.” This was Pennsylvania Congressman and military veteran Connor Lamb, speaking about Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher and other Republican members of Congress from safe districts who on the night of Jan. 6 voted to overturn the certified results of the presidential election in Lamb’s home state. Count me ashamed.
Fulcher’s actions once and for all give the lie to right-wing politicians’ claims to be constitutionalists, or Libertarians. They are no defenders of the U.S. Constitution, nor defenders of the Constitutional rights and voting rights of American citizens. Attempting to use the power of the federal government to overthrow the results of an election fairly conducted by individual states is exactly contrary to the concept of states’ rights, or federalism. This is why Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden declined to sign on to the spurious lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to overthrow the results of state elections whose outcomes he did not like.
Anatomy of a failure
Regarding the attack on our Congress, it is beyond doubt that it was intended and incited by the president and carried out by the mob (the first group). Just as the attack was getting underway, members of Congress (the second group) were attempting to subvert the final confirmation of the results from November’s election. The attack laid bare the President’s criminally psychotic condition as well as the absence of critical rational thought by those in his thrall (groups one and two).
Without critical rational thought among the electorate and the elected, a democracy simply will not function. Importantly for Idahoans, the second group includes Rep. Russ Fulcher of the First District. Group two demonstrated that they have no more ability to make carefully considered rational decisions about democratic participation than group one. Both groups are a danger to the democratic way of life we hold ultimately dear, for which many have given their lives. As we struggle to put this dark stain behind us, maybe we can turn it into a valuable lesson. The lesson hinges on the question: What if the president were more competent and had succeeded? The answer to the question leads us to understand why we must hold the president accountable and remove him from office immediately for the sake of setting a precedent that could preserve our system of government into the future. It also leads us to understand why we must avoid the likes of Russ Fulcher. If at this point you would not reelect Donald Trump, why in the world would you reelect Russ Fulcher?