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Time to get my word in edgewise

Chad Hobbs:

Messenger Staff

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 I come before you today more as a lifetime citizen and lover of this great county than as a journalist, though the two are difficult to separate at this point in my life. There has been a storm brewing for months now that I proudly stand in the center of, as a reporter for this very paper.

 Standing in the middle of such a situation can get a little messy if not hazardous at times. That bothers me not one bit. I knowingly and willingly dove into this fray because doing the right thing for the people of Meade County, my neighbors, family, friends and my son and other children’s futures far outweighed me staying silent in the corner. If that meant getting some egg on the faces of a handful of local officials, well, so be it.

 With that being said, the time has come to step back from moving forward and clear the air on a few things. The local radio station allowed Randy Johnson for two weeks to sling misinformation and unrestrained anger towards our paper, and now “Citizen Joe” appears to have taken up where Johnson left off.

 We have printed editorials and always will, as they are a long-standing tradition of newsprint. In fact, Webster defines editorial as a newspaper article that gives the opinion of the editors or publishers. It would be hypocritical of me to do anything short of saying WMMG and Johnson have the same right, as does Redmon in penning his letters to the editor. It may be their right, but it will go on unchecked no longer. I surely did not throw down the gauntlet, but I will readily pick it u and accept their challenge.

 Since local radio has had to traverse many of the same hurdles our newsprint has had to in order to survive in this rapidly changing digital age, I would expect that before they turned to attacking a fellow Meade County business (especially one of the oldest in the county), that they would at least give due diligence to researching their argument and the facts before they go on a “ratings at all cost” blitz for their little talk show. As for Redmon, he appears to be just another run of the mill partisan hack. Therefore, little more should be expected out of him than blind rage towards anyone who fails to bow down to his beliefs.

 Sure, some of us have been critical in our own right of a handful of local government leaders and their actions as of late. The difference is, we have researched, investigated and verified facts before we decided to ever put our pens to paper. Not to mention, we try to provide both sides of the story. One side may seem a bit underrepresented at times, but we can not force someone to talk. We do at least provide the opportunity to do so, though.

 One issue Mr. Johnson and Redmon have had, in particular, is this paper’s decision to allow an anonymous contributor to have a voice in our paper. Amazingly though, they have never once attacked the anonymity of our horoscope contributor, who in my own opinion, gives far worse advice than Conrad Doyle ever dreamed of. I wonder if they also feel we should burn Mark Twain books due to his abhorrent use of a pen name.

 Furthermore, I find it sadly ironic that on the same radio show that he ranted continuously about the Messenger allowing Doyle to remain anonymous and how we were unethical for doing so, Mr. Johnson allowed Judge/Executive Gerry Lynn to anonymously sit in on his show, unbeknownst to the audience, while the host and guest did his bidding. Maybe that’s why Mr. Johnson, himself, made sure to ask the magistrate questions to ponder right before taking calls or going to break. Was he giving the magistrate time to deeply ponder the host’s softball tossed questions or giving the Judge time to anonymously give the “proper” response to his puppet? I surely do not believe the Judge was wasting taxpayer money just to enjoy viewing the live recording of a radio show. Maybe it was just a regularly scheduled Fiscal Court field trip that they forgot to announce.

 I’ll now do for Mr. Johnson and Redmon what they neglected to do prior to catching their lingering cases of oral stomach flu: disseminate all the facts, not just a select few.

Is it unethical for the paper to protect the identity of Conrad Doyle while this anonymous writer questions the integrity of some government officials and their actions?

 The Supreme Court doesn’t think so. They have clearly ruled that a newspaper does not have to disclose their sources to anyone even the highest court in the land. The Sheriff’s Office surely doesn’t agree with them either. Like many law enforcement agencies, they have an “anonymous tip line” where the integrity of citizens can be questioned and is even encouraged. Maybe they should take time away from their cable news echo chambers and expand their minds with a good book. Might I suggest one revolving around the early years of this great country? If they were to take such a radical step, they would surely learn that papers of that period regularly published letters and essays in which federalists and antifederalist used pseudonyms such as “An American Citizen”, “Centinel” and “An Old Whig” to postulate for their cause while debate for the ratification of our Constitution raged throughout the original 13 states. Are they unethical, Mr. Johnson? Are the founding fathers “anonymutts” also, Mr. Redmon?

 It should be noted that, after a former writer for the Messenger wrote the first article announcing Nucor coming to town while questing some EPA cases the company had been the subject of at the end, Judge Lynn personally came to the Messenger’s office, not to clarify, but to let it be known that this paper was already all but dead. He then insinuated that if another negative Nucor article was published, it may very well be the final nail in the Messenger’s coffin. Not just censorship but extinction was implied as a remedy upon this institution that has served the people of Meade County for well over a century if it were to ever get out of line again. So, excuse us gentlemen, but I think we know better than you when a person’s identity needs protected in this county in order for them to feel comfortable speaking plainly about such individuals.

 It would also be worth mentioning that the Messenger has extended invitations to Lynn, Nancy Tate and David Pace, to name a few, to contribute rebuttals to Doyle’s articles ever since the the first one was published, but as you can see, never once has anyone of them showed the slightest interest in clearing their name or setting the record straight if inaccuracy had been leveled their way.

 They have been more interested in issuing threats and cutting ties with the paper versus answering the hard questions that their constituents deserve to have answered. Pace let us know early on that they had searched all the state’s databases and Conrad Doyle didn’t exist. Tax dollars and time well spent, Mr. Pace. I wonder, was law enforcement forced to assist in this pointless witch hunt on the taxpayer’s dime as well?

 You see gentlemen, these officials have no desire to clear their good names. They only wish to destroy anyone who stands in their way. We are not unethical; we just have good common sense.

The farmers have had their very livelihoods threatened the way this “lottery win” has been handled, Mr. Redmon. Instead of trying to understand their plight, Redmon instead asserts that the farmers are mad because everyone got paid but them, that they are selfishly trying to feather their own nests, that this is what winning looks like and everybody should just get used to it, and that our future lies in Nucor not with the farmers, insinuating it’s time to move on without them. Redmon doesn’t appear to have missed any meals while he sets perched with Johnson atop their ivory towers, but it’s their very kind of indifference towards farmers in communities all across this country that is helping fuel a systemic collapse of the industry that produces the food on all our plates and threatens to push the American farmer to the brink of extinction.

 Neither man makes any credible claim, but instead provides just proof as to the ignorance of their poorly formulated assertions. They are dogs with no teeth perpetually chained before a mirror, constantly barking with no means to bite, and even if they were to break free from their hyper partisan chains, would find their own reflection as the true cause of their former torment.

 And before you go on another one of your “the Messenger always props up the Democratic Party” rants again, let it be said that I’m a register Republican, but whether it’s AOC calling me a Nazi for not agreeing with her or you calling me a socialist because I dare question your misguided beliefs as well, disgust befalls me in both of your misguided cases.


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