Sunday, February 28, 2010

The manipulation of a small town newspaper and the control of public opinion: The Press Enterprise

We all know that Editor Jim Sachetti [of Northeast Pennsylvania's The Press Enterprise] manipulates 30 Seconds [a call-in/email opinion feature] through placement, delays, snide remarks, strategic silences, and comments aimed at fueling the local fires of bigotry, encouraging personal assault on his nemeses, and encouraging those with whom he agrees to post more often.

What we didn’t know, until now, is that the same strategy governs the Op-Ed page, putting the lie to any respect Sachetti may have had for the first amendment. Fact is, he cares no more for free speech than suits the promotion and protection of the Eyerly Tabloid Empire.

Indeed, Sachetti’s cliam to be impartial with respect to who gets a hearing on the Op-Ed page is a sham.

Example: Jay Nixon recently submitted a letter to the editor where he demonstrates Sachetti’s manipulation of 30 Seconds. Each case Nixon details shows how Sachetti accomplishes this objective.

When Evy Lysk used 30 Seconds to make the unsubstantiated claim that Benton School Board members are guilty of recruiting, Sachetti not only let the remark stand without challenge, but printed several reiterations of it.

When she and other Patriot’s Voice members accuse president Obama of being a member of an Islamic terrorist sleeper cell—no comment.

Yet when Jerome Cragle offers a remark critical of the climate change deniers, Sachetti asks about his profession snidely implying that Cragle has too much time on his hands.

There are no names John Pushinaitis cannot call me that Sachetti sees as unfit to print, but when I show that Pushinaitis’ anti-choice rhetoric effectively condones the murder of reproductive healthcare providers, Sachetti bans me from 30 Seconds, demands I make my case as Op-Ed (I did), claims to convene a three-member panel to consider it, and then pretends to chivalry reinstating me at Pushiunaitis’ “request.”

When Nixon challenges Sachetti to provide evidence to the claim that Nixon is disingenuous with respect to calling Sachetti out about the manipulation of 30 Seconds, Sachetti calls Nixon “delusional.”

This sample represents a fraction of the distortion and control with which Sachetti maneuvers 30 Seconds into Eyerly Empire sales.

But here’s the real story: Sachetti REFUSES to print Nixon’s letter, importing to the Op-Ed page the same control, the same disdain for free speech, that governs 30 Seconds. Perhaps those who benefit from this will celebrate.

After all, they win.

Thing is, they don’t.

Sachetti could change his mind, and because his decision-making—however cloaked in the ideological—is really an expression of his personal feelings of affection and loathing, even his love-fest with Pushinaitis, the Patriot’s Voice, Togno, etc. could end.

Love, after all, is fickle.

Nixon offers at least two examples in his letter that make the Eyerly Empire potentially vulnerable to lawsuit, and it’s no wonder that Sachetti doesn’t want that to come to light.

A terrible bind for the poor guy: He forfeits his integrity to sell Eyerly’s tabloid but fails to calculate that some of us might figure out that the empire is the Truman Show.

The Eyerly Empire’s goal is to control public opinion.

But Sachetti has choices:

He can “man up” and print Nixon’s letter demonstrating that he’s not Eyerly’s puppet.

He can print my letter and Nixon’s demonstrating that he really does care about free speech.

He can refuse to print one or both revealing once and for all that the PE is neither a newspaper nor a venue of democratic discourse—but instead an agent for an empire that manipulates its readers into PAYING to be the autonomic vehicles of its profiteering.

What’s it going to be, Mr. Sachetti?

Wendy Lynne Lee

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