#FTFY, WBEN

Local talk radio station WBEN held an online poll about its listeners the tea party on Wednesday. Here are the results as of mid-morning: 

Big surprise, right? So, I fixed that for them: 

Or this: 

 

 

In the News

Blue Sky Optimism

Blue Sky Optimism by ardvorak79

A few things worth reading in the Buffalo News:

Colin Dabkowski has quickly become a must-read every Sunday. His columns are direct, pithy, and insightful. This week, he weighs in on the city’s revival of its public arts program.

Although I’m not a huge fan of nostalgia, I think that Bruce Andriatch’s look back at his time at a defunct Olean-area restaurant and hotel is poignant and interesting.

The News’ endorsements for the upcoming school board election are notable for being exclusively Caucasian in a predominately African-American district. It would seem that there will be a lot of whitesplaining going on over the next year. But understand that when Paladino’s agenda is unsuccessful, he’s going to have to own that and he won’t have any “sisterhood” to blame anymore.

Buffalo’s own news historian guru, Steve Cichon, has begun curating the “BN Chronicles”, highlighting interesting stories from the News’ archives. Nestled between stories detailing America’s intervention in the Mexican Revolution, there’s this 1969 story about moving the Williamsville toll back past the Transit exit (never happened, we’re still arguing about it), a Buffalo Bill selling cars during the off-season, a story about fledgling gay rights in 1984, and a 1969 piece about “high speed rail”.

Sacred Heart Academy refused to print an alumna’s same-sex marriage announcement in its alumni periodical. The woman in charge of the magazine expressed that she was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“I’m very sorry that we can’t publish your pictures and your good news in the Cordecho,” Sister Edith Wyss wrote. “We had a similar request several years ago and we did publish that announcement of the marriage of an alum to her partner. We did expect some negative response and we got some.

“However some readers of the Cordecho also contacted the Diocese of Buffalo. The bishop sent a diocesan official to meet with us at SHA to make sure that we understood what we had done,” Wyss wrote. “In their view, we were publicly supporting same-sex marriage. In our view, we were supporting our alumnae.”

The bottom line, according to Wyss, was that the Cordecho – published three times a year in winter, spring and fall – could not again print news or photos related to same-sex marriage.

One person posted a comment on my Facebook wall, indicating that Nardin has no problem announcing alums’ same-sex marriages, so all of this is a bit odd. But then, read what Buffalo’s bishop has to say:

“I am grateful that the leadership of Sacred Heart Academy has done the right thing and has not compromised its Catholic mission and values. While Sacred Heart is not a diocesan school, it is a Catholic school within the diocese, and I have responsibility for Catholic identity there and in every Catholic school, diocesan or not.”

Yet Pope Francis famously said, “[i]f someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” While not a full-throated endorsement of same-sex marriage, it’s certainly more loving and tolerant than what Buffalo’s bishop has to say. 

Sacred Heart Academy reportedly has no problem cashing homosexual students’ and alumnae’s checks.

WBEN: Fascism Advocacy

Over the next week, consider for a moment that the radio station that brings you the traffic and weather together in the morning, along with a roster of commentators whose extremism builds as the day rolls along. 

But in the last few months or so, the station’s operations director, Tim Wenger, has developed for himself something of a largely off-air personality. In some ways, it’s even more malignant than that of his top talkers. He conducts himself like the most deluded and hateful trolls on the WBEN Facebook page. 

Consider Wenger’s completely unprofessional and false attempt to shame WEDG’s Josh Potter, and this series of horrible, reactionary pronouncements from Wenger’s own Twitter account, as well as the control he obviously enjoys over the WBEN Twitter and Facebook accounts at various parts of the day.  

Whatever personality Wenger is trying to manufacture for himself, it’s horrible and repugnant. 

It culminated in these two Tweets from him, one of which was, of course, simultaneously posted to the WBEN Facebook page. 

No, actually, I’ve never felt like “throwing a shoe” at any American political figure. Mostly because I’m not a violent moron, but also because I feel secure enough in the political system and in debate and discussion that “throwing a shoe” or otherwise committing an assault and battery doesn’t enter into it.  Remember when an Iraqi reporter threw a shoe at President Bush? Did Wenger think that was acceptable? Reasonable? Rational?

I didn’t think it was persuasive or appropriate. People enter politics, and they should expect to be vetted, scrutinized, and questioned. They should not expect to dodge physical assault. They do not deserve battery – no matter how much you disagree with them. For everyone who thinks Hillary Clinton deserves to be hit by a shoe because of Benghazi, I can probably find you two who think that Bush should be behind bars for war crimes. 

So, there’s nothing at all funny or appropriate about someone throwing a shoe at George Bush or at Hillary Clinton. Anyone who thinks differently is no different from a fascist blackshirt, trying to do with violence what they can’t do with words. It is beyond un-American. 

 

The video Wenger loves shows a small handful of protesters minding their own damn business. They had in no way attacked, provoked, or otherwise antagonized the two servicemen who attacked them. You can see in the last few frames, one protester with his hands to his side – he’s asking to reason with them.

In response, they curse at him – this from Tim Wenger, who just can’t tolerate the profane blogs. It’s ok to say “fuck” if you’re a Marine intimidating, assaulting, battering, and robbing a couple of guys on a moped. 

That protest, by the way, took place in Albuquerque.  The people on the moped were protesting an epidemic of police brutality in that city, culminating in the homicide of an unarmed homeless man. The people on the moped were exercising their right to free speech, protesting police shootings. Their use of an upside-down flag wasn’t an act of disrespect – the upside-down flag is a distress signal, used in many protests as political speech indicating that the republic is in danger. Go look at the title card for “House of Cards”.  Should belligerent and ignorant young men throw shoes, perhaps, at TVs displaying it? 

There is nothing to love about what that Marine does to the protester, whether he’s an “ass” or not. (More profanity! Shock! Horror!). Engaging in street fights with political opponents is what the blackshirts and brownshirts did in the 20s and 30s. That is the only context within which this assault and robbery of a flag can be viewed. The only lens through which we can see this as acceptable or lovable behavior is the lens of fascism. 

 

So, understand that Buffalo: the guy who runs operations for the Entercom corporation locally is a proponent of violent, fascist behavior. He is an outspoken, unabashed fan of violence and intimidation for political ends. To say this is un-American is a dramatic understatement. But even more insidious is that – whether he holds these views sincerely or not – he is encouraging that sort of behavior from the malinformed people listening to WBEN who think Michael Savage is too liberal. 

Tim Wenger and WBEN are encouraging violence against people who hold different political views from them. I don’t know why this is not a big deal. 

If this was happening in the 1930s, this newsreel would be appropriate: 

Potter v. Wenger

What happens when you poke fun of the right-wing freakshow that WBEN has become? When you’re Buffalo comedian and WEDG personality Josh Potter, you’ll find WBEN operations chief Tim Wenger making stuff up about you. 

Fill-in host Michael Caputo was out of commission Monday due to an illness he jokingly blamed on the mics at WBEN. Potter retorted that it was from the “bullshit spewed” into them every day. Caputo thought it was funny, and parried with a swipe at liberal embarrassment MSNBC. Fun!

But then it suddenly took a vicious and ugly turn. Here on full display is the attitude that informs WBEN’s entire day of programming

Dafuq?! 

When you apply for a job, do you expect the company to blab about it publicly on social media? There’s no law preventing it, nor does Entercom promise confidentiality – after all, it has to vet the information provided. But certainly it crosses some sort of blatant ethical line for Wenger to try and humiliate Potter in a public forum in response to a harmless joke. There’s a real ominous mean-spiritedness behind that. 

Oh, and on top of all that – it’s a lie. 

Potter didn’t apply for a job with WBEN. He was, at one point, offered a job as a producer for WGR. Although WGR and WBEN are both Entercom stations, WGR doesn’t offer an “all paranoia, all the time” format. Take a look again at Wenger’s Tweet – he alleged that Potter applied to WBEN – not Entercom or WGR. Furthermore, he didn’t apply, he was courted

Luckily for Potter, WEDG was aware of his talks with WGR, so his livelihood is not threatened. But Wenger didn’t know that, and he deliberately, knowingly published a false statement of fact in order to embarrass a guy from a competing station who made a tame joke. 

It’s malicious libel. 

 

Radio is a competitive medium, and I love a good media war as much as anyone, but intentionally making a false and defamatory statement – information which, if true, should remain confidential – in order to embarrass someone who made a joke is wildly inappropriate and completely beyond the pale. 

Wenger can demean the blogosphere all he wants. Sure, we use poopy and potty and peepee words here. But he should check his own behavior before calling any other medium the “gutter”. 

The Voice of Just Awful

Just awful. It’s just awful. Some examples: 

1. Wednesday morning we experienced the coldest temperatures of the season. There was, however, no wind to speak of, so it didn’t feel like it. Howard Stern was a repeat, so I tuned into WBEN to hear the weather, “news”, and traffic. There, the static duo of John Zak and Susan Rose yukked it up about how all those pussy schools and all those pussy kids had “cold days” a few weeks ago, but on the actual coldest day of the season, they seemed to make their way to school just fine. 

The subtext, of course, is what WBEN had  been pushing all that week that schools closed – all these soft people and union schools are un-American jerks for closing schools for cold weather. Every one of their local shows had that as a topic at least once that week. They constantly beat the drum about this complete and utter non-issue. 

So, when the morning newsreaders mount their high horses and criticize schools and kids for not closing on the actual coldest morning, they’re setting up a lie. The schools didn’t close because of low temperatures, they closed because of windchills of -20F and worse. The notion of even kids who are bundled up sitting outside waiting for buses in that sort of dangerous cold just isn’t worth the risk. But WBEN didn’t bring that up – they just left the lie out there so the olds who listen could feel superior to these pussy kids and pussy union schools.

Whatever chump runs the WBEN Twitter feed got sarcastic with me instead of addressing what I wrote. 

 

 

 

If we don’t call them out on stupid little lies, imagine the big ones they get away with on a daily basis. 

2. They put up a picture of the Slovak Olympic hockey team, thinking it was team USA, before changing it. 

I don’t know who’s running their social media feeds, but God almighty. 

3. On Thursday, Facebook added ways for people to identify their gender. The normal human reaction to that is to either cheer this, or shrug. OR TURN IT INTO BREAKING NEWS.  Literally, this “news” went out to people who subscribe to WBEN’s breaking news text service: 

This is, of course, not breaking news. What WBEN was doing was riling up its right-wing omniphobe listenership over the assault on hetero rights in Obama’s America.  You should see the comments to the thread

Facebook. An internet sharing service that is completely free of charge, wholly voluntary, which implemented a change that helps some people and has zero effect on other people. Why would that upset anyone? If it’s so offensive to you, quit. 

The assault on American values comes not from progressives or Obama or same-sex marriage or acceptance of people who are different from you. The real assault on American values comes from hatred, fear, and blatant lies.

UPDATE: 

4. This morning, Buzzfeed (of all places) published a fantastic take-down of the Trump political con game. This exchange occurred: 

 

WBEN even took to Facebook to try and make something of it, 

Here’s the thing about this. First of all, Mark Poloncarz is free to “worry” about whatever the hell he feels like worrying about. If he wants to poke fun at WBEN’s incessant massaging of Donald Trump’s prostate, then that’s his prerogative. It has, after all, been hysterical. But the subtext here is that Poloncarz shouldn’t be taking time out of his day to Tweet things to a local media outlet because taxpayers or something. So, look at the time stamp: 8:06. What’s he supposed to be doing at that time? Whose time is he stealing? Also, he’s a professional – he doesn’t punch a time clock. 

 

 If this is the “voice of Buffalo”, then Buffalo must be a horrible, awful place. 

Bob McCarthy’s (g)O(p)-Face

Photo via @MichaelRCaputo at Twitter

The Buffalo News’ political columnist Bob McCarthy has fallen in love. Like the woman who married the Eiffel Tower, and Quasimodo’s love for the bells, McCarthy has a deep crush on Donald Trump’s private 757

At first, poor Bob was sad.  A promised tour of Trump’s jet didn’t materialize, so he was left to examine his love by transcribing the voice-over from a YouTube video. You could feel his disappointment. He recited its most intimate details – its $100 million cost; the fact that, like a trophy wife, it replaced a much older, less attractive 727. Bob lovingly quoted people who explained how Donald Trump spares no expense to surround himself with only the loudest and tackiest accouterments; gold plated things, silk things, personal bedroom with a desk, big screen TV, Rolls Royce Engines – the politics column took its writing cues from Robin Leach or 50 Shades of Grey.  

Well, little Bob’s whining got him better than a tour of the plane, he went inside it; he got to ride it

Dissecting the strategies of a statewide race around an exquisite oak table is exactly the kind of political scene you might envision involving a top Republican like Donald J. Trump, especially when he’s mulling a challenge to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

But when the conversation takes place thousands of feet above New York State, aboard what he proudly calls “the world’s most luxurious airplane,” you get a sense of just how unique this campaign might be.

Oh, it’ll be unique, alright. Will Bob get to see the plane again? Its oak table – it’s so…exquisite. Giddy like a schoolboy, the man with the mustache and tan blazer is inhaling his surroundings. He’s mentally noting every detail, as if he was trying to design the setting of his every future dream. This gorgeous bird soars above the depressed landscape below. Look down at it – so common, so unluxurious; so unworthy of being under this plane. 

So during a Friday afternoon interview with The Buffalo News aboard Trump’s $100 million Boeing 757 en route from New York to Buffalo, the Manhattan real estate mogul laid down his conditions in the clearest language yet.

The cost of that aircraft – that pricetag is Bob noticing the plane from across the room.  A furtive glance; he smiles.  The mighty 757 smiles back. It looks him up and down.  It bites its lip. He hastily gulps his drink and looks away. What to do?!

Bob tries to regain his composure. His heart rate is elevated, and he’s playing out scenarios in his mind, while sitting in that plane and pretending to pay attention to Trump’s demands of complete party unity. 

[State Repubican Chairman Ed] Cox, who attended the Salvatore’s event Friday evening and has clearly favored Astorino, continues to feel the brunt of Trump’s barbs. From his customary luxury seat around a small meeting table, glancing occasionally at the snowy landscape below, Trump on Friday dialed up his criticism of the chairman.

The luxury seat. What other sort would there be on this beautiful, gold-encrusted, silk-strewn beast? Oh, Trump. He doesn’t appreciate this plane, glancing down as he is at all the potential fracking sites, dreaming of ways to scar the upstate landscape. Bob isn’t looking out – he’s looking around. He is inside his love, they are in a warm and passionate embrace, and he has no time for snow or landscapes; no interest in the black-and-white winter tableau below. 

“He’s a nice guy, but he hasn’t won anything,” he said, adding Cox is pushing Astorino because “he doesn’t know any better.”

“You’ll never see him in a plane like this,” he said of Cox.

So Trump in essence is inviting Cox to either climb aboard the Trump bandwagon – or in this case, the Trump 757 – or face what he calls an inevitable pummeling. Ditto for Astorino.

Wait a second. Trump’s getting wise to Bob’s shenanigans. Trump can see the passion in Bob’s eyes, and he knows that the plane’s heart is not fickle. No, N757AF loves Trump, and Trump loves it, and no two-bit reporter from some upstate hellhole can rend the two asunder. Not Ed Cox, and certainly not the likes of the News’ political columnist.  But all the while, McCarthy is mentally scribbling “Bob N757AF” dreaming of a wedding day that will never come. 

Trump has no problem dwelling on that “very nice life.” Watching a golf tournament on the 57-inch screen stretching across mid-cabin, he casually drops the fact he has won a string of club championships.

“I’m a good golfer,” he said.

But he also thinks the opulence that surrounds him could prove his point.

“People want to see success; I would like to show my financial statement,” he said. “I’m one of those guys who says let’s make a lot of money so we don’t have to cut, even though I know that last part doesn’t sound very Republican.”

Oh, how you’re teasing Bob. 57-inch screen in a plane? Not 56″ or 50″ – that’s for the lumpenproles toiling away 25,000 feet below. And it’s tuned to golf – something slow to help Bob calm down. Maintain, Bob. Maintain. Of course it’s golf – Bob’s new Boeing-built mistress knows what he likes. It understands him. It gets him. It’s like he’s re-born. Like the world is new. All it needs now is Steve Pigeon on its speed dial. 

The plane landed  in Buffalo, gracefully classing up a joint more accustomed to mere 737s and commuter jets. McCarthy had to leave his crush. Maybe he promised to keep in touch. Maybe they exchanged Snapchat usernames or followed each other on Instagram. Maybe Bob is liking all of the plane’s pictures on Facebook. OMG, he thinks, it’s totes adorbs. 

But the $100 million lover with the exquisite oak, the 57 inches of lovin’, and the gold-encrusted seatbelts is gone now. As soon as humanly possible after leaving Salvatore’s, Trump and his plane – which has been compared to those belonging to Middle Eastern kleptomaniacal despots like Muammar Qaddafi – flew down to Palm Beach. 

Oh, they’re soaking up the sun, Trump and that 757 beauty. But Bob’s waiting longingly for his reunion with his love. 

Poor Bob. When Trump decides that the party isn’t unified enough and decides not to run, Astorino’s chartered turboprop is going to be so lame. 

Bauerle: Now in Life & Arts

That was quick. 

The Buffalo News’ scary-important follow-up story, detailing that (a) Tom Bauerle was back on the air at WBEN on Monday; and (b) the town of Amherst is denying FOIL requests seeking reports of last week’s incident, was published in the Life & Arts section. Sunday’s story, by contrast was FRONT PAGE ZOMG. It didn’t take long for this Page Six gossip column to be relegated to the section where you’ll find the Golden Globes, a psychic, the Buzz, and a plan for an art barge on the Erie Canal. 

It would seem that the information the News obtained from two unnamed police sources was likely an improper release of private personal information, and cannot be corroborated. 

Though The News filed a Freedom of Information request regarding the 2:50 a.m. incident on Jan. 8, Amherst Town Attorney Thomas E. Jones issued a denial letter Monday.

“No crimes or arrests are reported,” Jones said. “The records do contain medical and other personal information concerning the subject. It is our opinion that the release of the report would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy as defined by the Public Officers Law.”

The relevant parts of the FOIL read, 

2. Each agency shall, in accordance with its published rules, make available for public inspection and copying all records, except that such agency may deny access to records or portions thereof that:

(a) are specifically exempted from disclosure by state or federal statute; 
(b) if disclosed would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy under the provisions of subdivision two of section eighty-nine of this article;

2. (a) The committee on open government may promulgate guidelines regarding deletion of identifying details or withholding of records otherwise available under this article to prevent unwarranted invasions of personal privacy. In the absence of such guidelines, an agency may delete identifying details when it makes records available.
(b) An unwarranted invasion of personal privacy includes, but shall not be limited to:

i. disclosure of employment, medical or credit histories or personal references of applicants for employment;
ii. disclosure of items involving the medical or personal records of a client or patient in a medical facility;
iii. sale or release of lists of names and addresses if such lists would be used for solicitation or fund-raising purposes;
iv. disclosure of information of a personal nature when disclosure would result in economic or personal hardship to the subject party and such information is not relevant to the work of the agency requesting or maintaining it;
v. disclosure of information of a personal nature reported in confidence to an agency and not relevant to the ordinary work of such agency; or
vi. information of a personal nature contained in a workers’ compensation record, except as provided by section one hundred ten-a of the workers’ compensation law.
(c) Unless otherwise provided by this article, disclosure shall not be construed to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy pursuant to paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subdivision…

…(2) Nothing in this section shall require disclosure of: 
(a) personal information which is otherwise prohibited by law from being disclosed; 
(b) patient records concerning mental disability or medical records where such disclosure is not otherwise required by law; 
(c) personal information pertaining to the incarceration of an inmate at a state correctional facility which is evaluative in nature or which, if disclosed, could endanger the life or safety of any person, unless such disclosure is otherwise permitted by law; 

So, when I suggested in comments that the HIPAA law might apply, I was wrong. It was the FOIL itself that appears to expressly prohibit release of information concerning Bauerle’s psychotic episode. “Karma” doesn’t make it newsworthy. “Bauerle is an asshole” doesn’t make it newsworthy. The fact that his guns were confiscated under the NY SAFE Act – something with which he said he would never comply – is newsworthy, however. 

I asked you on Sunday to consider what it was that made the Buffalo News’ original Bauerle story newsworthy. I explained that Artvoice didn’t reach the same conclusion, and explained why.  Several people misinterpreted my article as a criticism of the News – it wasn’t. Many people left comments here and on Facebook, and some of them were thoughtful and persuasive. Many of you understood that I wasn’t necessarily saying the News was wrong for publishing the story, but asking people to ask themselves, or explain, why it was newsworthy. 

Some of you pointed out that Bauerle’s hatred of the NY SAFE Act, and the fact that firearms were involved in the underlying incident that led to Bauerle’s police involvement made it relevant, together with his prominence in the community. I found that to be among the most persuasive arguments. 

However, I had a lot of people pointing out this WNYMedia.net article as a good counterpoint. I didn’t find it persuasive at all. In fact, it underscored my perception that many people in favor of publication were simply happy that an enemy had been exposed, and performed some mental gymnastics to justify it. Let’s take a look. 

If your social media news feeds are anything like mine, you’re probably scratching your head a bit at this faux empathy being kicked around today surrounding Tom Bauerle.

Fortunately, we don’t share that empathy.

I’m not sure there is any site in Buffalo who has criticized Tom Bauerle and WBEN more over the last 12 years.  Today, anyone familiar and fed up with WBEN’s resident whack job finally got the small verification we’ve been waiting for :

I don’t understand how someone can so quickly determine another person’s motives (here, “faux empathy”), but WNYMedia’s Marc Odien cannot read minds. He argues that it is impossible/incompatible/inconsistent to, on the one hand, hate things that Bauerle has said; and, on the other hand, believe that he deserves some modicum of privacy with respect to a health issue. I disagree. Over the past 10 years, I’ve written more than my share of “oh my God, look at this horrible thing that Tom Bauerle said” posts. So when he has a personal crisis, that’s front page news? 

But instead of celebrating a possible final reprieve to all the hate, racism and conspiratorial nonsense Western New Yorkers have to endure on a daily basis, anyone criticizing him, including the Buffalo News, suddenly became the villain.

Police report or not, of course this is newsworthy!

1. The police have been called to his house 13 times since November 18th. Anytime public resources are used that much in a short period of time, it certainly worth scrutiny and reporting:

The “villain” crack links to a Tweet that Chris Smith posted: 

 I had a similar reaction. In fact, when we recorded this Trending Buffalo podcast on Thursday January 9th, we considered talking about the Bauerle story, and agreed not to, because there’s a difference between criticizing crazy opinions and openly mocking what appeared to be mental illness.  No one accused anyone of being a “villain”. On the contrary, I merely asked people to think about it.  Chris merely asked people to be human. You know – “Buffalo, it’s the people” and “good neighbors” and whatnot. 

So, WNYMedia.net declared that, “of course” it’s newsworthy. The first rationale is 13 police calls. No one’s seen the reports. No one’s heard the 911 tapes. One source told the News that it was 13 calls since mid-November. Not all of them from neighbors. If true, it seems like a waste of police resources, and possibly a neighborhood issue. Point taken. Does Bauerle’s celebrity make that a front-page story? 

2. Whether you listen to WBEN or not, a lot of people around here do and often relate to the nonsense spewed over WBEN airwaves. Regardless of what you think of Tom Bauerle, his ranting and raving on WBEN since 9/11 has caused irreversible damage to society and falsely influenced thousands of other WNY’ers to buy into and believe his brand of craziness.

I don’t know what this 2nd rationale is supposed to mean, except to say that Bauerle is a right wing asshole and therefore he is a right wing asshole. So, because he’s said horrible things on-air, he has forfeited all rights to privacy? That seems unreasonable. 

Linking to the audio from Bauerle’s paranoiac rant of December 30th, Odien continues, 

3. Have you heard this?  Heads should roll at WBEN as to why this was allowed to continue for 17 minutes:

Saying Mental Illness is a “serious” matter is like asking if a “bear shit’s in the woods”.  OF COURSE IT IS !!  But that doesn’t negate the newsworthy of a trusted and influential radio personality officially going off the deep end. I have people very close to me who deal with mental health issues daily and of course mental illness isn’t something to “joke” about.  (except on twitter apparently)

Since they are not reporters, our friends and colleagues at Artvoice thought reporting on the Bauerle incident amounted to joking about mental health and instead published this post claiming they “knew all about” Tom Bauerle’s recent plunge into the mental health pool, but decided to take the high road:

Should heads roll at WBEN over that clip? Maybe. I’ve complained to Entercom and WBEN numerous times about some of the horrible things I hear on that station. They love it, when they don’t ignore it. 

Odien acknowledges that mental illness is “serious”, but concludes that, here, its seriousness is outweighed by the “trusted and influential radio personality” is “going off the deep end.” But he’s been going off the “deep end” on the air for years. The only person writing regularly about those episodes? Me. Didn’t we just go through a charade about mental illness being “serious” before dismissing this episode with a throwaway euphemism for an apparent psychotic episode?  It all detracts from the underlying thesis that this all scary-important information for the public to know.  

Odien goes on to cast doubt on whether Artvoice had the story at all. We did. He quoted the second paragraph of my story and went on to say,

Please… If you believe that, then I’ve got a Tom Bauerle conspiracy theory to sell you

The moment I heard the gist of what had happened (from two completely unrelated people), I tweeted this: 

When we began looking into it, I posted this: 

After we decided that this was more TMZ than Artvoice, I concluded with one of Bauerle’s declarations from the December 30th broadcast: 

Quoting from the part in the Buffalo News article where Bauerle supposedly told a cop that Cuomo’s spies had magical shoes that left no prints in the snow, Odien writes, 

The WNYmedia archives are filled with posts, articles, funny pictures, videos and podcasts calling Tom Bauerle and his ilk “batshit crazy”.  What’s been OK for the last 12 years is now suddenly a taboo subject according to your alternative news source?

However, this is a personal medical matter and one affecting perhaps his neighbors, but not you or me.

Maybe on the surface.

But what Tom Bauerle represents to this community and tea-baggers everywhere should not be minimized.  Nor should we minimize putting mentally unstable person on public airwave spewing hate, racism and other ridiculously false political claims in order to justify a warped political agenda for more than a decade.

So, this is a matter of critical public import because Bauerle had a breakdown of some sort and he has a hateful on-air persona? (I Googled “Batshit crazy” + “Bauerle” and it’s not a common combination, and not one that I have ever used). Calling someone “batshit crazy” because he espouses opinions that are batshit crazy does not give me license to mock and expose him if it turns out that there’s a genuine psychiatric problem. There’s a difference. 

Artvoice stopped looking into it; the News canvassed the neighborhood – notice the News went to the neighbors, not vice-versa. I took to Twitter to mock the mockables – shoes with no footprints and Treebeard surveilling Williamsville radio guys.  But that was it.

A guy running around the neighborhood with a loaded gun, thinking trees are out to get him is a problem, for sure. If you’re in the immediate area. But is it one that needed front-page coverage by the Buffalo News? Is every neighborhood disturbance to be in the Buffalo News now?

As I explained, I didn’t take a shot at or criticize the News for doing their job, I wanted there to be a conversation about what people thought made the story newsworthy. 

Alan Pergament took to his blog to blast WBEN’s handling of the whole thing, and added this: 

I sympathize with Bauerle and hope he gets help.

But anyone who doesn’t think this story has journalistic merit needs to go back to Journalism 101.

The Bauerle story fits several textbook criteria of what makes news –  including prominence, conflict,  timeliness, proximity and novelty.

Additionally, Bauerle is an influential voice in the community and should be held to a higher standard. He has constantly used his daily show to oppose Gov. Cuomo’s NY SAFE Act.

However, politics is a secondary issue of this story. The primary issues are the safety of the community and how a radio station can keep a guy on the air who has exhibited such bizarre behavior without giving him enough time to recover.

Shame on WBEN management for apparently failing to realize that it crossed the line of worrying more about the bottom line than of the health and safety of its own employee, its staff and the community.

A lot of people think that Kate Middleton’s baby bump, or Kim Kardashian’s most recent pronouncements merit journalistic attention. Some think it’s important whether the separated Eliot Spitzer has a girlfriend whom he *gasp* might be sexing.  The question of journalistic merit is an interesting one; hence, Sunday’s post. 

But one unifying theme among the people defending the Buffalo News against non-existent criticisms is that it’s important because Bauerle has said crazy things on the air. Well, yes. He has. Where have you guys been

Almost exactly a year ago, for instance, Bauerle decided that the U.S. Government was a “greater enemy than al Qaeda.” There was a sitting NYS Assemblyman on the phone, who remained silent as he said it.  I wrote about it at length here. The Buffalo News didn’t deem that to be newsworthy. Neither did WNYMedia.net. 

WNYMedia and The Buffalo News did not write anything when Bauerle gleefully, but incorrectly reported that Americans now predominately fear the government. They didn’t write anything when Bauerle suggested that Islam is “not compatible” with Western Democracy

When Bauerle devoted an entire show in 2009 to the topic: are liberals “insane”, “psychotic asshats” who want to “destroy America”, the Buffalo News wrote nothing. During that same show, Bauerle  spoke approvingly of a new civil war in America, hoped for an armed, military coup against the federal government, and suggested that the military side with the “people”, rather than with the “liberals”. The Buffalo News’ newsworthiness radar was broken. WNYMedia paid attention because I wrote about it there

When the brother of blogger Mike Blake made a phony phone call to Bauerle’s show and was subsequently the target of harassing texts, the Buffalo News was silent. Nary a peep from the News about this or this or this; you get the picture.

There have been quite a few outrageous outbursts on hate radio in the last several years, and suddenly now it’s important? What Bauerle said on December 30th is downright tame compared to his earlier suggestion that al Qaeda was better than Obama. 

So, I’m not the person to lecture about the horrible things that WBEN has allowed on its air. Pergament’s criticism of WBEN management is beside the point, 

Additionally, Bauerle is an influential voice in the community and should be held to a higher standard. He has constantly used his daily show to oppose Gov. Cuomo’s NY SAFE Act.

Yes. I have acknowledged that this is a good argument in favor of disclosure. 

However, politics is a secondary issue of this story. The primary issues are the safety of the community and how a radio station can keep a guy on the air who has exhibited such bizarre behavior without giving him enough time to recover.

How can you reach this conclusion without a medical degree or an examination of the patient? Bauerle expressly addressed this on Monday, explaining that he was medically cleared to be on the air, that WBEN gave him unlimited time to get himself right, and that he was on-air of his own volition. He sounded perfectly normal. 

I don’t know. It seems to me that a lot of the arguments in favor of publication come from a base, ‘screw that guy’ place. Many other arguments are, ‘we should know because we deserve to know’. That’s not enough for me. Whatever. 

Bauerle and the Newsworthiness of it All

Consider for a moment why the Buffalo News story about Tom Bauerle’s apparent psychiatric episode exists. This sort of thing happens every day, and when there’s no arrest, it won’t even make it into “Police & Courts”. The cops were called, so it might merit a names-redacted story in the Amherst Bee blotter.

We knew of this story on Thursday. Geoff Kelly and I looked into it, spoke with sources, and otherwise weighed its newsworthiness against the obvious privacy issues concerning a psychiatric episode of a public figure. We didn’t roll with it because (a) let the man get help; and (b) let’s don’t cheapen the seriousness of mental illness. With no arrest, we didn’t think it was worth aggressive pursuit.

The News disagreed, and I ask you to consider the question of newsworthiness.

I hope Bauerle – with whom I vehemently disagree on most everything – gets the help he needs. I hope that his right to possess firearms is curtailed, as this sort of psychiatric episode is exactly why the mental health provisions of the NY SAFE Act exist.

However, this is a personal medical matter and one affecting perhaps his neighbors, but not you or me.

Here is the audio clip everyone is talking about, from December 30th. It is chilling.

http://www.trendingbuffalo.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/bauerle12-30-13.mp3

Read Dasani’s Story

Dickensian Squalor in Contemporary New York

There was a lot of jokey-snark Sunday night as Twitter was trying to guess what the New York Times’ big blockbuster story was going to be on Monday morning. A Times editor had Tweeted that a game-changing story was coming, but offered no hints. 

The story itself is a heartbreaking one about a bright and energetic 11 year-old girl who lives in poverty and squalor with her family in a dilapidated, uninhabitable city shelter.  We follow her to school, we examine her home, we look at her parents and their obvious problems in such a way that eschews cheap judgment and instead gives us a window into the crushing poverty, desperate need for help, jobs, and education that families like this need. 

It also describes the insane class divide where homes within spitting distance of the shelter and adjacent projects now go for a million dollars; where a fancy new wine shop offers tastings across the street from a liquor store where the clerk sits behind bullet-proof plexiglass. 

Please read all five parts of the story, which will take you on an emotional roller coaster, and consider whether, in our zeal for austerity, we’re causing more problems than we’re solving. 

Some “richest country in the world” superpower we are. 

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