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Columnist Jay Fleitman: The Gazette’s greatest hits

  • The Daily Hampshire Gazette’s offices in Northampton. STAFF FILE PHOTO



Tuesday, December 04, 2018

I don’t know if the owners and editorial board of the Gazette recognize or care about how alienated the conservative, Republican and Libertarian members of this community are from this newspaper. I regularly talk to people who live in its region of distribution who will not subscribe or buy or read the Gazette. It is the unabashedly liberal premise of this newspaper that has those people turning their backs.

November was a banner time for the Gazette in celebrating its Progressive street creds. It certainly warrants a review of November’s highlights, though this one is not nearly complete or exhaustive.

A good lead-off would be the analysis from the Associated Press published in the Gazette after the midterms of the losses by Andrew Gillum of Florida and Stacey Abrams of Georgia in those respective gubernatorial races. These candidates were both African-American. The AP pointed out that Gillum received only 39 percent of white votes, but 92 percent of African-American votes in Florida, while Abrams only accrued 25 percent of white votes, but 94 percent of black votes in Georgia. Clearly, according to this analysis, this was evidence of white racism in the failure of these candidates to win: “What the president has done is played to the lowest common denominator and created a culture of intolerance and racial hatred,” opined Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP.

There are questions raised by this conclusion. What percentage of the white vote would need to go to these candidates for the charge of white racism to be dismissed? Would 51 percent suffice or would there need to be 65 percent or 75 percent for the liberal media to be satisfied? On the other hand, how does one interpret racism in the context of the inability of the white candidate in each of these races to even achieve 10 percent of the African-American vote?

Does it not matter at all that candidate Gillum was a fervent member of the Trump resistance, called for the president’s impeachment, and as the mayor of Tallahassee was under FBI investigation for corruption and bribery? Was there no contribution to Abram’s loss in Georgia due to her supporting left-wing positions such as universal health care and being anti-Second Amendment while running in a conservative state?

That same day, there was a guest columnist in the Gazette who asserted that “Trump and his Republican enablers” were responsible both for the pipe bomber that targeted prominent Democrats and for the shooter who killed 11 at the synagogue near Pittsburgh. Did this columnist also find Bernie Sanders and the Democrats responsible for the shooting attack in 2017 by a Bernie Sanders supporter of several Republican Congressman while they were practicing baseball?

That same columnist set forth as fact that Republicans “study the voting behaviors of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Native-Americans, immigrants, women and students, and then they try to keep their votes from counting.” Republicans “moved or eliminated polling places with a large percentage of Democratic voters, rejected registration and absentee ballots for inconsequential discrepancies … and provided faulty voting machines.” (Wasn’t this New York City? Hardly a Republican stronghold.) Where exactly does this subversive Republican high-tech think tank exist? Does it have a web page? In this column, the Electoral College was identified as a Republican technique to suppress Democratic voters.

The most problematic entry in the Gazette last month was another column that equated Trump and Republicans to the Nazis. This columnist likened the assault on the synagogue in Pittsburgh to the beginning of the Holocaust in Germany in 1935, suggesting the assailant who attacked the synagogue and killed 11 Jews did so because of Republicans. As she writes, “the president, echoed by his minions, campaigned on a theme of hatred and division.” His online rants against seemingly all minorities are explained by “where would he get that idea? Perhaps from the rhetoric coming straight out of the mouth of our president.” To this writer, that conservatives question Jewish billionaire George Soros and his funneling of millions of dollars into liberal causes constitutes anti-Semitism; and she implies that Trump’s minions think Jews “must be stopped.”

As a Jew and a Republican, I cannot begin to characterize how offensive I find these assertions and the fact that such hateful ideas appeared on the Gazette’s Opinion page.

What takes the prize for the highlight of the month was the Gazette headline and lead article printed above the fold after Thanksgiving: “Running to beat the presidential blues,” about two Amherst women running daily until Trump is no longer in office. Did the editors have no appreciation that this makes a very clear statement that this newspaper is written for a target audience that would find this a feel-good story? Those who do not share these politics are not welcome.

I truly wonder if there is an understanding here on how simply insane some of what was in the Gazette last month seems to those of us outside the insular world of left-wing politics. There is also insult and derision on these pages directed at those on the other side of the aisle: Republicans and conservatives remain on the pages of the Gazette the “basket of deplorables.”

There is no question that, in this small city of Northampton, the Gazette contributes to an atmosphere of divisive politics that is a microcosm of the country as a whole. It is the most visible local media outlet with a professed mission to be the chronicle of the community, but it is unapologetically hyper-partisan. The new editorial board introduced itself some months ago as seeking new voices on its pages, specifically identifying the inclusion of more conservatives. This is a very funny way of extending an invitation.

Jay Fleitman, MD, of Northampton writes a monthly column. He can be reached at opinion@gazettenet.com.