The Buffalo News Needs to Get Rid of Comments

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The contemporary axiom is “don’t read the comments”. In the Buffalo News’ case, it should be amended to, “don’t allow the comments”.

Blogs have comment sections. A decade ago, I’d write a blog post, people would comment, and I might occasionally respond. Sometimes, a dialogue could be had as these commenters developed their own personalities and points of view. Although things could get heated, if the original author of the post being commented-on was involved, there was a chance for something more than just trolling and sniping.

But the Buffalo News isn’t a blog, and its authors don’t participiate the comments sections, ever. The experiment whereby news media solicit comments from viewers or readers on straight news stories has got to end.

Not the story comments to Facebook – whatever, that’s different. I’m talking about comments that appear directly under the online publication of a news story – whether it’s WGRZ, WIVB, or the Buffalo News, and whether it’s Facebook or Disqus or something else. There, comments offer no value and are little more than petri dishes that help to grow and disseminate some of the most vile and disgusting behavior from people hiding behind a cloak of undeserved anonymity.

Here at the Public, I write (so far) exclusively for the online audience. We use Facebook comments, which is different because, for the most part, Facebook demands that users sign up using their real names. But comments and debate or discussion don’t happen, because the shield of anonymity is essentially gone. Anonymity had its downsides, sure, but the upside was that insiders felt safe bringing up things that they could never do on the record. I miss that, to a point.

But what specifically prompts me to write this piece has to do with an article that the Buffalo News published about a laudable new paper. “Karibu” will publish in English, Karen, and Arabic to cater to new immigrants in Buffalo. Refugees. Legal residents. Immigrants help to form the backbone of this country. They come to this country full of hope and promise for a better future for them and their kids; to leave oppression or poverty and work hard to improve their lot. They start businesses. They pay taxes. They participate in commerce. They become Americans.

Because their path here was not easy, they are not, contrary to popular opinion, more prone to commit crime or otherwise squander their opportunity.

The mentality in Buffalo and western New York when it comes to race and immigration is too often not an enlightened one; we see it in the news with Joe Mascia and Carl Paladino. But the comments left at the Buffalo News’ website in response to the article about Karibu were as heartbreaking as they are hateful.

Here are some ugly examples, as they appeared mid-day on Wednesday:

Notice how few of these people have the stones to put their real names behind these vile comments. Why? If they’re proud enough of their race-hate to type them out and click “publish”, why hide behind anonymity? These people are not a credit to the News, they are not a credit to Buffalo. Simply put – these people with this mentality are keeping us down far more than any immigrant.

Buffalo News Comments

At long last, Buffalo News. It’s time to turn comments off. They serve no one’s interests. They serve no legitimate purpose. It reflects poorly not only on the News, which still maintains them, as well as on the area at-large. There is no legitimate discussion happening there, and with no participation or reasonable moderation, they add no value.

Enough is enough.

Kathy Weppner: Victim

Kathy Weppner, for whom you should totally never vote, scored a few points on Monday.  

Not against her opponent, but against the Buffalo News. She even recorded a radio ad blasting the News, because she is accusing its Washington correspondent, Jerry Zremski, of misogyny and sexism. For instance,

Here’s something I’ve not said before – Weppner has a point. When I read that passage, I thought that Zremski’s description of Weppner’s manicure was out of line; it’s simply not a way you write about a female candidate for office. But look at the passage within its context

Looking out over Canalside from the plaza outside downtown Buffalo’s new Courtyard by Marriott on Friday, with the new HarborCenter rising to his left and his brownish hair flying every which way in the breeze, Rep. Brian Higgins talked a bit like a proud father.

“It’s campaign season, so I’ll say it: We had something to do with this,” said Higgins, a Buffalo Democrat whose strong-arming of the New York Power Authority provided the funds to begin the city’s waterfront boom.

But a day earlier at the Lake Effect Diner in University Heights, Higgins’ opponent laid two immaculately manicured hands, with 10 long hot-pink fingernails, out across a pile of paper that foretold doom of one kind or another, and spoke like a very worried mother.

The emphases are mine. Zremski described something about Higgins’ appearance, and described him as a “proud father”, and then described something about Weppner’s appearance, and described her as a “worried mother”. He was more descriptive about Weppner’s nails, admittedly. 

He wasn’t blindly mocking Weppner’s fingernails – he was trying to illustrate for readers something about each candidate’s demeanor and appearance. You’ll note that no one quotes the Higgins passage, and plenty of people locally poke fun of Higgins’ sense of style. 

Interestingly, the people screaming loudest about this insult are the people who scream loudest against things they call “political correctness” and the “war on women”. People like this guy: 

I mean, if you’re going to be a hypocrite, I guess it’s best to do so within the same thread. But you can’t with a straight face complain about PC and then accuse someone of being a celibate or gay or whatever Bauerle’s trying to do here. Bauerle and his buds make all kinds of cracks about Higgins all the time. Their buddy Carl goes so far as to reportedly call Higgins a “cocksucker” in private, and he means it literally. That’s OK, I guess. 

But does Weppner not want people to notice her nails? I mean, they neither qualify or disqualify her for office, but they’re quite palpably there

This is a candidate who refers to women as, “girls” in a video mocking the very notion that there exists a “war on women”.  Now she’s a victim of it? 

She complains that she never had a professional manicure, but Zremski never said she did – he simply said they were manicured – he didn’t say who did it. 

Here’s what I wrote in May about Weppner’s dismissal of the “war on women”: 

The “war on women” has been coined as shorthand for policies and proposals that specifically target issues relating solely to females.  These can include restrictions on reproductive rights and choices, lax enforcement of workplace anti-discrimination regulations and statutes, outrageous slut shaming of feminists who advocate for women’s rights, and still-prevalent positions held mostly be men that, for instance, women who are beaten or raped must have contributed to their own victimhood; that they brought it on themselves or “deserved” it.

It’s perfectly reasonable for people to argue about how to deal with these sorts of things from different political and moral perspectives, but it’s not reasonable to simply deny that the problems themselves exist. It’s not reasonable to suggest that it’s ok that women are treated like inferiors in the labor market, for instance.

But instead of praising the women who have worked tirelessly for decades to improve the lot of all, Weppner denigrates their fight for equality as the real “victimhood”. Was Susan B. Anthony displaying weakness when she demanded equal rights and suffrage? Were the suffragettes just playing as weakling whiners when they demanded the vote? How about the women who, in the mid-19th century, gained the right to be treated as more than mere chattel under the law?

I do like that this lecture is being delivered from an all-American kitchen with a dollar-store flag in the background. Because patriot.

Kathy Weppner, an allegedly serious person supposedly running for federal elected office, can get on the YouTubes and allege that, when women fight for equality and liberty, they’re really waging war on men.  But I’ve got a transvaginal ultrasound right here that says Weppner’s wrong .

Weppner: she rejected the “war on women” before she decided it was politically expedient to become its victim. 

I don’t know if I agree with the “war on women” rhetoric, but I do believe that women should be treated as equals with men. I also think that the media need to be mindful of the ways in which they describe female candidates, and Zremski’s attempt to contrast Weppner’s and Higgins’ appearance was clumsy, at best. But there’s nothing here to indicate that he was displaying any animus, or that it was in any way an attempt to de-humanize Weppner because she’s a woman. He should have simply added something more about Higgins’ appearance. 

You can’t spend all your time complaining about political correctness, and then try to be politically correct. It’s either a valid concern, or it’s not.

In the end, none of this renders Weppner any more or less electable than she was on Sunday morning – i.e., not remotely

UPDATE: Here is one of the few remaining clips of Weppner’s WBEN show that exist on the internet, courtesy of WNYMedia.net. In it, she denigrates activist Sandra Fluke for her sex toy agenda or something; “contragestives are being snuck in under the name ‘Ella'”. Sandra Fluke was famously insulted as a “slut” by Viagra huckster Rush Limbaugh for daring to suggest that contraceptives be included in health insurance policy. 

When Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut”, Kathy Weppner piled on. She is a hypocrite of the highest order. 

Also, a commenter on Twitter suggests that it wasn’t the crack about the fingernails that was insulting, but that the juxtaposition of “proud father/worried mother” is just as troubling. I think it’s an interesting point, although I think that the whole passage was more about color commentary than about substance. 

Donn Esmonde Should Just STFU about Teachers

As a general reminder, please reacquaint yourself with the notion that Donn Esmonde – the News columnist who won’t leave – is an unethical, morally repugnant, tea partying  ass.

It was just last year that Esmonde (whose wife is a Buffalo Public School teacher, and who has actively shilled for his charter-school running business partner) regaled WNY with tales of greedy teachers gorging at the public trough. (I love how his business partner’s daughter wrote a glowing paean to Esmonde in Buffalo Rising in 2008). 

Now, we’re supposed to believe that teachers are good? That they can be people’s “favorite“? That they are not only professionals and educators, but also reliable, trusted adults to whom kids can turn for aid and comfort? Was Joe Finucane one of those greedy suburban teachers? I mean, he made $90,000 at Williamsville North

Donn Esmonde owes too many apologies to count at this point, but one thing is for sure: while his tea party friends continue their privatization and dismantling of Buffalo’s school district, with no one asking, “cui bono?”, Esmonde should probably just stop writing about educators. He is unworthy of them. 

The Curse of the Donn Esmonde Column

What better way to explain away systemic failure than to do what they did in the Middle Ages and just blame it on some supernatural curse? 

The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy first articulated the concept of the Red Sox “Curse of the Bambino” in a book released in 1990.  It soon became lore – during fall Sox games, the “Reverse Curve” sign on an overpass on the outbound Storrow Drive became “Reverse Curse”. 

So Donn Esmonde, a semi-retired Buffalo News columnist/asshole, came up with a “curse” for Buffalo. This is, naturally, not at all original. Some believe that Buffalo is cursed because President McKinley was assassinated here. It’s much easier than, say, absorbing the details and lessons from Diana Dillaway’s “Power Failure and addressing longstanding ways in which Buffalo continues to stand in the way of its own progress. 

Esmonde’s way of cheering the Pegula family’s purchase of the Buffalo Bills reads more like the rantings of an obsessed geek fanboy writing erotic fanfiction featuring Karen Gillan and Kari from “Mythbusters“. 

If the stars and fates were – for reasons unknown – lined up for decades against the city, those fortunes indisputably have changed. The U-turn has been so dramatic – and the reversal so long overdue – that the dark cloud may have lifted for generations to come.

Note to Fate: It’s about time.

It’s not fate. There is not a single thing about Buffalo and WNY that has fundamentally changed in the last 10 years, except perhaps locals’ attitudes about the city. When the governor throws a billion dollars at your city for economic development, good things would happen anywhere. The funding of ECHDC with money from the power authority helped bring about Canalside, and that was thanks to smart politicians exercising their clout. But do we really need NYPA? Shouldn’t WNY have been benefiting from cheap hydropower for the last century? Couldn’t Albany do something about making it easier to start and do business in New York State instead of just making it rain cash? Our recent election results show just how same old same old our area is.  Lucking into finding a sports-fan billionaire is just that – luck. His purchase of the Bills changes none of the fundamental, underlying problems that we face. 

Any “curse” is of our own creation, and we maintain it lovingly every time we “participate” in our electoral system. 

If indeed there was a dark cloud hanging for decades over our sporting teams and civic fortunes, it’s safe to conclude it has been mugged, mauled, pummeled and smothered into submission.

The way things are going, there will be a shiny Stanley Cup in our trophy case and a Super Bowl parade down Main Street sometime in the next decade. Crazy talk, I know. But who could have imagined that a Pegula would suddenly appear, as if brought to life by our collective wishful thinking?

We suffered the misfortunes of Wide Right, four straight Super Bowl losses, No Goal and various other sporting calamities. The supposed prior salvation of the Sabres – and a downtown-reviving Adelphia empire – offered by the Rigas family vaporized in false promises and prison sentences.

The sports calamities pale in comparison to our social, economic, and political calamities, all of which continue apace. Another article in the News details the process whereby amateur, unqualified “planners” dictate the future of the Outer Harbor by passive-aggressive sticky note.  Don’t tell me that any curse is lifted when we have people whining about people living in gorgeous new housing near the Lake. I mean, just look at what waterfront development did to those unlivable hellholes like Vancouver, Toronto, New York, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Singapore, and Chicago! We’d never want to be like those places! By God, that Outer Harbor has been a contaminated wasteland for the last 80 years, and by God a contaminated wasteland it should stay!

Apart from Silicon Valley, newly minted billionaires don’t generally fall from the sky – particularly around here. Pegula, in essence, emerged from the earth – or, at least, the source of his billions did. Advancements in the technology of natural gas extraction, called fracking, in recent years turned natural gas deposits mile-deep in shale into 21st-century treasure. Though environmentally controversial, fracking transformed Pegula seemingly overnight into a multibillionaire. With decades in the industry, Pegula – a native Pennsylvanian whose Western New York roots are nearly 40 years deep – saw the coming technology early on and acquired massive stretches of shale-rich land. He has, over the last five years, sold pieces of his stake for billions of dollars.

Luckily for us.

This one is fantastic. Esmonde is glossing over the environmental disaster that is natural gas extraction through hydrofracking. The modern fracking they do in Pennsylvania and other places is not yet allowed in New York, and while some think it would be a boon for economically depressed parts of central New York – mostly around Utica and Binghamton – it comes with huge environmental risks. 

You need look no further than this Donn Esmonde column from 2011, wherein he recounts how fracking rigs in Springville made a young family sick, and turned their well water suddenly flammable. Heartbreaking:

“I couldn’t understand why my kids were getting sick,” said Brant. “Are they going to have health problems for the rest of their lives? I have six girls, will they be able to have children?”

One could argue that fracking may have “cursed” that family, because looking at it all scientifically, empirically, and objectively is far too complicated and difficult. But what’s a little poisoned water, poisoned kids, and geological trauma when a billionaire can buy our sports team? 

I understand that we’re willing to hold our collective civic nose and ignore how Pegula made his billions, but to gloss over it and cheer the lifting of a “curse” is going a bit too far, even for Tea Party Donn

With Pegula’s emergence, Buffalo really stepped in it – but this time, instead of stomping into something odoriferous, we walked into a bed of roses. Mesh the reversal of our sporting fortunes with the ongoing repopulation of downtown, the development of the waterfront, the revival of the West Side, the emergence of Canalside and the rise of the Medical Campus, and there is just one rational rhetorical question begging to be asked: Curse? What Curse?

Buffalo’s population continues to decline. Our politics remain hopelessly dysfunctional and corrupt, and all of these things are happening in spite of that. Buffalonians and WNYers may have more optimism and hope, but it’s not because one billionaire bought the Bills – it’s because in the last 20 years, we’ve been forced at last to get past our post-industrial malaise and figure out a path to the future. We may not always agree, and we may fight and argue about the details of how to move forward, but it’s because of the work of visionary businesspeople, tax credits and incentives, activists, volunteers, and organizations that our region seems to be moving forward. For every billionaire sports team owner, the real hard work is being done by people who live paycheck to paycheck, or freelance check to freelance check. It’s being done by entrepreneurs who put their talent and passion into various projects. It’s not the grand shopping sprees that make Buffalo better, it’s all the little things that people do with minimal fanfare and very hard work. 

As for me, I’m convinced that Buffalo’s “curse” won’t be lifted until Donn Esmonde stops writing trite, humorless nonsense in the local paper and retires to his suburban tract home in Florida

Bucky Gleason tl;dr

Kim Pegula, as described by the Buffalo News

Buffalo is so thankful that naïve, pussy-whipped Terry Pegula and ice-bitch-queen Kim Pegula will be buying the Bills. 

I could go on, but this article nicely sums up the culture war that’s being waged by and against women, and how women are winning. 

(For the uninitiated (remember BobbyCat?), tl;dr stands for “too long; didn’t read”) 

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.

Kathy Weppner Tries to Explain; Fails

Kathy Weppner, the Republican trainwreck running against Brian Higgins, has descended into self-parody with record-breaking celerity. I almost have to congratulate her on the speed with which she has beclowned herself.

On Monday morning, I went to her “Str8talk” blog to peruse its sanitized state and noticed that it had been completely scrubbed out of existence. The Weppner sanitization had been completed by redirecting to her campaign website. That means, we have to rely on the Waybackmachine to find anything and everything about what she thinks when it doesn’t really matter. 

But there may be something even better on her campaign website – a passive-aggressive page of whining about “yellow journalism“. In 1941, Frank Luther Mott set forth five elements of yellow journalism

– scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news

– lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings

– use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudoscience, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts

– emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips

– dramatic sympathy with the “underdog” against the system.

None of those exist in Zremski’s piece

Let’s now turn to Weppner’s epic self-defense. It’s an admittedly unique tactic – lashing out so furiously at the librul meediya in ALL CAPS AND RED TEXT AND ZOMG. 

As a threshold matter, I don’t precisely get why she all-caps the word “NEWS” rather than just capitalizing “Buffalo News”.  I’m thinking it might be her way of telegraphing the fact that the Buffalo News is a front for the Bilderberg/Illuminati conspiracy, or that it’s really an acronym for something nefarious.  (Also, I will edit out some of the text from Zremski’s article to save space).  

The first article from the Buffalo NEWS posted online Saturday March 22, printed March 23.   My final comments are under each news comment. 

I would like to thank the Buffalo NEWS for exposing themselves today as yellow journalists and providing the evidence to WNY for how they manipulate public opinion during elections.

Last week, while I was out of the country Buffalo NEWS Washington Bureau  reporter Jerry Zremski  sent an e-mail filled with questions about my past radio show topics, why I discussed them and where I read about the topics I discussed.  He indicated that his editor wanted these questions answered for an upcoming article.

I found the nature of these questions to be very peculiar however, I responded to the questions and now you can find  both the Questions and my responses  on the website & facebook.

Now it’s the public’s job to evaluate  questions and answers in full to see if the reporting lines up with the facts.

You see. How inconsiderate. She was out of the country while her serfs are out getting petition signatures on her royal highness’ behalf. How dare this middle-class peon working for the “NEWS” email her a set of questions

If Kathy Weppner wasn’t prepared at this time to be interviewed, or to have her background and viewpoints examined, then perhaps she should have waited until after her foreign travel to announce her candidacy. 

Readers must decide what the urgency was that this had to be published on Saturday.  In two separate e-mails (both on March 21st) I stated I would be available this week for an interview.  Could it be that petitions are being walked throughout the district right now?  Could it be that fundraisers are being set up right now? How many other campaigns have had this happen in the early stages of getting organized?  Why change any of the wording from the online version to the printed version? You decide

Let’s. 

Weppner final analysis in red of  BUFFALO NEWS ONLINE Article   22-2013 1:08 pm   (since removed) changes noted in print edition are in green & yellow.

 Here, Weppner posts the first several paragraphs of Zremski’s article

…Weppner refused to be interviewed for this story, instead answering questions via email.

Weppner response 1: Attached find my response to your questions. Sorry about the delay I was out of the country. Monday I will be releasing a report to the media regarding a pressing issue facing Western New York. You will be included in that release. I am currently putting together my platform and when that is completed we can sit down for an interview.

Let’s NEWS some more.  

Zremski Follow up: Jerry Zremski wrote:

5) Perhaps it is best if we talk about these things. What is your number?
Kathy Weppner response: For now I am totally focused on organizing my campaign. I anticipate having time next week to talk about issues in Western New York and the report I mentioned.

Phones work outside the country, and she punts here – she’s not offering to address Zremski’s questions – she will only “talk about issues in Western New York” as she defines them, and some “report”. I’m sure the report provides us with, I dunno, exquisite detail about how communist homosexual gangs of paper clips have conspired to bring down the WTC and American exceptionalism. 

Zremski notes that Weppner paid a lot of attention to the birther movement, going so far as to interview Orly Taitz, whom nobody with half a brain takes (or took) seriously. Weppner picks nits,  

“In a series of written replies to questions,”  is omitted in the printed version changed to:   “She also wrote.”There were eleven e-mails back and forth.  Why would this be taken out for the printed version? 

Because who cares. She reprints portions of the email exchanges with Zremski, 

Q1)  You have repeatedly questioned Barack Obama’s eligibility for the presidency. For example, in a 2010 Blog Talk Radio appearance, you said: “What Obama’s campaign has put out is not a birth certificate.” Do you still believe that Obama may not have been born in the U.S. and therefore may not be eligible to be president? 

A1 Kathy Weppner response: “I believe, at that time, Mr. Obama’s submission of a “short form” birth certificate was a topic of conversation nationally as there were many lawsuits attempting to see his long form birth certificate.  I found it interesting that there was such resistance to produce this when it should have been simple.  Mr. Obama Is our President”                                                                                               

Q2 NEWS follow up: Jerry Zremski wrote:
2) Your answer to my question about President Obama’s birth certificate is inadequate. Yes, Mr. Obama is our president — but do you believe he was born in the United States?
Kathy Weppner response: That question has already been decided. I raised three kids that took an oath under this president. Our family’s willingness to sacrifice for this country is clear period.   

It’s a simple yes-or-no question, yet Weppner is pathologically unable or unwilling to simply say, “yes, I believe Obama was born in the US”, or “no, I believe Obama is a Manchurian candidate placed as chief executive as part of a 50 year-long communist plot to make the US an Indo-Kenyan vassal state”. 

Weppner analysis of the NEWS article published:  Please note from  the questions asked by the NEWS that:

I was never asked about my involvement in “the birther movement as Mr. Zremski claims. Nor did I ever claim to be a birther.  I am not  exactly sure  what the “birther movement” means or who is in  it”?  What constitutes membership? 

No way she’s serious about this here. You don’t host Orly Taitz on your radio program, discuss birtherism, and then get to deny even knowing what the term means.  She appeared on some internet radio show and rejected Obama’s birth certificate there. 

Read carefully-Mr, Zremski  alleges that because “birthers” question Mr. Obama’s eligibility,  and I once stated, “What Obama’s campaign has put out is not a birth certificate,” that means I am  “a birther”.  Because Mr. Zremski believes I am a birther,  I must have believed in the past, and still must believe now, that Obama is not eligible to be president.  

Well, why discuss it, otherwise? Why complain about the short-form birth certificate, which is enough for anyone legally to get a passport or otherwise to prove their place of birth? 

This Article was not offered on an opinion page.   Mr. Zremski’s questions and conclusions are not journalism.  Mr Zremeski’s personal opinion about “birthers,” and his personal opinion on who qualifies as a “ birther,” interjected into an NEWS article  is bias masking as journalism.

No. Zremski’s article is factual in nature. His opinion was that Weppner’s original punt of an answer was inadequate. He had to ask her two times if she believed that President Obama was the legitimate head of state, and she refused to answer it directly on both occasions. He was cross-examining her, and she couldn’t handle it. The truth. 

Like many others, I was a show host doing an interview just like  Salon, MSNBC  and the Daily Beast,  when they also did interviews with Taitz.  The numerous legal cases involved had aspects we have never heard before. This topic was in the news and interesting!

Salon  2009  http://www.salon.com/2009/08/13/orly_taitz/
MSNBC 2009 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vNpXJxpu48
The Daily Beast http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2009/07/30/queen-of-the-birthers.html

It was especially interesting to right-wing tea party Obamaphobes. Weppner’s evasion and unwillingness to answer a direct question speaks for itself. Also, Salon and the Daily Beast give Taitz the mocking beat-down she deserves. Did Weppner do that? Is she doing it now, or is she denying that she even knows what “birther” means? 

Q1)  On that same radio show, you said that when Bill Clinton’s medical records were released, “they found out that he had VD.” I can find no proof of that; in fact, I found a quote from his press secretary in the late 1990s saying that Clinton’s most recent physical had found that he had never had a sexually transmitted disease. What proof do you have that President Clinton had VD?

Q2 Zremski follow-up Jerry Zremski wrote:
3) In your answer to question 3, you say, “Bush Jr. admitted cocaine use.” According to my research, he never admitted that. What is your source?

Kathy Weppner response to #2 follow-up: 
http://forums.cnet.com/7723-6130_102-65801/bush-admits-past-drug-use-in-interviews-with-author/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-seery/the-bush-cocaine-chronicl_b_37786.html

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/BothSidesAllSides/story?id=2773754

The ABC link is a Michael Medved opinion piece. He expressly states that Bush has refused to reveal his past drug use.  The HuffPo article, likewise, discusses how the media refuse to take Bush to task over his refusal to admit or deny past drug use.  You can see the pattern – the CNET article also shows nothing to confirm that Bush ever actually tried cocaine

A)  Weppner response 1: I find it interesting that I spent over 700 hours on the radio and you have focused on a fifteen minute interview on a blog show that I did not have documents in front of me for.  I was asked to appear on the blog radio to explain how I was transformed from a talk-show caller to host. My appearance ended after about fifteen minutes when I hung up realizing that I had been deceived and the real purpose of the interview was to ambush me with controversy. I had been asked about politicians and documents. I did not have the source of those allegations with me as I usually do for topics I discuss on shows,   I have no intention of digging though 9 years of clippings as my time is better spent on pressing WNY issues that matter.  The STD story you refer to originated in 1996, during the Dole Clinton race when reporters asked Clinton if he was hiding conditions like STD’s by  refusing to release his medical records.  There are still press accounts remaining online about this line of questioning you might want to research. There were so many other Clinton allegations over the years such as  American Spectator, the magazine that broke the “troopergate” story, Paula Jones etc.  alleging Clinton cocaine use using Little Rock Dr. Sam Houston as the source.  I also recall these kinds of topics coming up in the news again in 2000 & 2004 when Bush Jr admitted previous coke use, and again in 2008 during Pres. Obamas campaign because Obama admitted cocaine use in his book.  ie :
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/BothSidesAllSides/story?id=2773754
If  I confused  decades old issues  during the middle of a brief ambush interview that I ended by hanging up, if I did not properly cite facts or sources on this issue, my sincere apologies to listeners and to Mr. Clinton. If the public can forgive admitted cocaine abuse perhaps a momentary confusion by a talk show host seems worthy of forgiveness. 
http://capitalismmagazine.com/1999/09/the-coke-question-why-bush-not-clinton/
CNN ARTICLE
http://cgi.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/news/9609/13/clinton/

That’s quite the protestation. No one owes her “forgiveness”.  Zremski merely asked her for clarification of her views. Of course, there’s nothing in the CNN article revealing proof of a Bill Clinton STD, and the “Capitalism Magazine” *rolleyes* article is just another hit piece on Clinton. Here’s a tip – if you’re going to whine about unfair press coverage, don’t cite unfair press coverage. 

Q7)  On Nov. 15, 2008, you reposted an article called “White Guilt Is Dead.” What you posted includes this passage:  “I’ve always despised lazy white people. Now, I can talk smack about lazy black people. You’re poor because you quit school, did drugs, had three kids with three different fathers, and refuse to work. So when you plop your Colt 45-swilling, Oprah watchin’ butt on the couch and complain “Da Man is keepin’ me down,” allow me to inform you: Da Man is now black. You have no excuses. “ Do you agree with that sentiment? Some might find it to be racially insensitive – do you?
A1 Weppner response: I find your question as insulting as the stereotypes printed in this Philadelphia  Inquirer editorial titled  ‘White Guilt is Dead ‘. Some might find it to be racially insensitive – do you?  ‘  “ I was surprised the Inquirer printed  this. Did you pose the same question to their editors?
Q2 NEWS FOLLOWUP: 4) On the “White Guilt Is Dead” post, why did you post it?
A2 Weppner response: Regardless of his political policies, Mr. Obama’s election was a proud moment in American history. I always feel deep pride in the American people and their willingness to embrace all ethnicities. It’s a statement to the world that in America if you work hard you can achieve anything. If you read the article carefully it actually reflects the same sentiment that in order to achieve you must rise above the offensive stereotypes.
Weppner final analysis: I invite readers to decide why Zremski edited my comments the way he did.

I went back and read the article “carefully”. What I see is nothing about “willingness to embrace all ethnicities”, or that “if you work hard you can achieve anything”. I see some base fucking racism there. I see an article written by someone who is so filled with rage and resentment that he writes something so base and so ugly that even Weppner – in her “A1 Weppner response” – expresses surprise that it was published in the first place. Yet in the next breath, she’s characterizing it as a reconfiguration of Emma Lazarus’ The New Colossus. The cognitive dissonance is stark beyond belief. If Weppner thought that reprinting this exchange would make her look better by comparison, I question her judgment, full stop. 

Weppner then addresses what Zremski wrote about her anti-Muslim writings and pronouncements. Nits are again picked. 

“THIS IS AN EXCELLENT SYNOPSIS OF ISLAM AND HOW IT WORKS,” Weppner wrote.   [wrote changed to “posted” in print version

Again – a distinction without a difference.

6)  On May 5, 2008, under the headline “Wake Up America,” you posted what you called “an excellent synopsis of Islam and how it works.” That synopsis says that after a country’s Muslim population exceeds 80 percent, people can “expect State run ethnic cleansing and genocide.” But Turkey, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates are stable and peaceful, with no ethnic cleansing or genocide, despite being more than 80 percent Muslim. How, then, is this an excellent synopsis of Islam and how it works?

Kathy Weppner response:  
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/12/international/asia/12cnd-indo.html?fta=y&_r=0
For your further research please see link  
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Wake+Up,+America!-a0173513219

“ A book called ‘Wake up America’ not about Islam but what we now refer to as  islamofacism  also came out around that time.   “Tolerance is cultural suicide when it is a one-way street. “ Hmm… some might say the last line reminds them of Democrat & Republican politics. I also suggest your further research regarding Indonesia  and Turkey, cleansing and genocide. I have included some links to broaden your knowledge:  Ethnic cleaning in Indonesia  2001 Thousands flee bloody Borneo ethnic cleansing.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/feb/26/indonesia.johnaglionby
“”Ethnic cleansing perpetrated by indigenous tribal fighters against migrants in Central Kalimantan engulfed the capital of the Indonesian province for the first time yesterday as tens of thousands of refugees fled hordes of head hunters. As the official death toll from eight days of carnage on the island of Borneo rose to 270, hundreds of local Dayaks swept through the city of Palangkaraya looking for settlers from the island of Madura. Police did nothing to prevent them burning dozens of homes and setting up roadblocks across the city to stop the Madurese escaping….The The slaughter was sparked by two local government officials who paid a group of Dayaks to attack a Madurese housing complex. Indonesia’s Antara news agency reported yesterday that the death toll is at least 400; Madurese in the Sampit refugee camp reckon it is several times that figure.”
 Indonesia discrimination against Chinese:
1)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination_against_Chinese_Indonesians
“Turkey Armenian Genocide:
I had a guest on by the name of Thea Halo author of Not Even My Name.  Her mother was a survivor of the Turkish genocide of over three million Christians. She spoke later at UB. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Armenian_Genocide: “The Armenia Genocide was the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of its minority Armenian  subjects from their historic homeland in the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey. It took place during and after World War I and was implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and forced labor, and the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches to the Syrian Desert.[…… There, the Armenians were subject to the whims of their Turkish and Kurdish neighbors, who would regularly overtax them, subject them to brigandage and kidnapping, force them to convert to Islam, and otherwise exploit them without interference from central or local authorities.[32] In the Ottoman Empire, in accordance with the dhimmi system held up in Muslim countries, they, like all other Christians and also Jews, were accorded certain limited freedoms (such as the right to worship), but were in essence treated as second-class citizens and referred to in Turkish as gavours, a pejorative word meaning “infidel” or “unbeliever
Weppner final analysis of the NEWS published article:  Mr. Zremski’s report is incorrect.  The synopsis is not an essay about the religion of Islam alone and it clearly states that in my post. The synopsis dealt with the “system of Islam,” and it’s various components-the religious, legal, political, economic and military components in Islamic states. The synopsis was written by the author of a book entitled,  Slavery, Terrorism & Islam – The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat’,  by Dr. Peter Hammond , a missionary from Africa. My post clearly identifies the book and author as well.  It was posted at a time when all Americans were learning about the difference between Islam and Islamofacism. http://www.amazon.com/Slavery-Terrorism-Islam-Revised-Expanded/dp/0980263913

The problem is that Weppner – and WBEN – never set out to, e.g., teach the difference between Islam and what they term “Islamofascism”. The New York Times article from 2006 that she cites describes a singular crime against Americans. It has nothing to do with genocide or ethnic cleansing, but with a terrorist act. Stalin didn’t commit genocide in the Soviet Union because he was a Muslim. Hitler didn’t murder millions throughout Europe because he was heading up a Sharia-based caliphate. The Khmer Rouge’s Pol Pot wasn’t following the “dhimmi” system to create his agrarian dystopia. Milosevic and his henchmen in Bosnia weren’t Muslims committing genocide – quite the opposite, actually. 

3)  On Jan. 7, 2006, you reposted on your blog an item called “21 Things You Must Believe to Be a Good Democrat.” Among those reasons were “You have to believe that gender roles are artificial but being homosexual is natural.” Does this mean that you think being homosexual is unnatural?

Kathy Weppner response: Please read all 21 Reasons below. Since you apparently, missed the humor and irony reason # 21 answers your question # 21. You have to believe that this message is a part of a vast right-wing conspiracy.   I know plenty of Democrats who feel their own party has been perverted by extremism. I know plenty of Democrats who are insulted by media who assume that all Democrats  think alike.  I don’t believe all Democrats think alike, ditto for Republicans. That’s why I am running.  That’ also the reason why the irony expressed in article is amusing.

Weppner analysis of NEWS article published: I stand by my response. Mr. Zremski called it an “essay”.  I called it humor. There are many different versions of this on the internet.   There is also a version for Republicans. Below are ALL of the 21 things in the article.  Buffalo News readers and editors should be asking why Mr. Zremeski picked  only #6 and ignored #21:

1. You have to believe the AIDS virus is spread by a lack of federal funding.
2. You have to believe that the same teacher who can’t teach fourth-graders how to read is somehow qualified to teach those same kids about sex.
3. You have to believe that guns in the hands of law-abiding Americans are more of a threat than U.S. nuclear weapons technology in the hands of Chinese communists.
4. You have to believe that there was no art before federal funding. 
5. You have to believe that global temperatures are less affected by cyclical, documented changes in the earth’s climate, and more affected by yuppies driving SUVs. 
6. You have to believe that gender roles are artificial but being homosexual is natural 
7. You have to be against capital punishment but support abortion on demand. 
8. You have to believe that businesses create oppression and governments create prosperity. 
9. You have to believe that hunters don’t care about nature, but loony activists who’ve never been outside of Seattle do. 
10. You have to believe that self-esteem is more important than actually doing something to earn it. 
11. You have to believe the military, not corrupt politicians, start wars. 
12. You have to believe the NRA is bad, because it supports certain parts of the Constitution, while the ACLU is good because it supports certain parts of the Constitution. 
13. You have to believe that taxes are too low, but ATM fees are too high. 
14. You have to believe that Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinen are more important to American history than Thomas Jefferson, General Robert E. Lee or Thomas Edison. 
15. You have to believe that standardized tests are racist, but racial quotas and set-asides aren’t 
16. You have to believe Hillary Clinton is really a lady. 
17. You have to believe that the only reason socialism hasn’t worked anywhere it’s been tried is because the right people haven’t been in charge. 
18. You have to believe conservatives telling the truth belong in jail, but a liar and sex offender belongs in the White House. 
19. You have to believe that homosexual parades displaying drag, transvestites and bestiality should be constitutionally protected and manger scenes at Christmas should be illegal. 
20. You have to believe that illegal Democratic Party funding by the Chinese is somehow in the best interest of the United States. 
21. You have to believe that this letter is part of a vast right-wing conspiracy.

WTF does that even mean? First of all, this confirms my going theory that Weppner is little more than a repository and regurgitator of mean-spirited right-wing chain emails. Secondly, it says you have to “believe” all 21 of these things in order to be a “good Democrat”. Where is the joke? What is funny about this? That homosexuals are abnormal and should be held up to ridicule? That feminists are garbage? That “Hillary Clinton is [not] really a lady”? Where is the “irony”, much less the “amusing” irony? It’s just culture warfare diarrhea.  

In 2007, she criticized an immigration bill that was before Congress at the time, saying it amounted to amnesty for illegal immigrants and adding: “If people truly want to be reunited with their families they can go home!”

Asked about the quote this month, she said: “Do you really think a complex issue such as immigration can be solved by asking a single, seven-year old, out-of-context question such as posed?” 
Weppner final analysis:  I stand by my response.

If you stand by your response, then what did Mr. “Zremesky” do wrong? Weppner blogged and spent time on WBEN with reductive xenophobia concerning immigration, so certainly she should be ready, willing, and able to defend or discuss something that she so casually wrote. 

9)  On Sept. 8, 2009, you posted an item on your blog headlined “Who Am I?”  It says, among other things, “* I was born in one country, raised in another. My father was born in another country. I was not his only child. He fathered several children with numerous women.” And it ends with the words: “Who am I? ADOLF HITLER. WHO WERE YOU THINKING OF?” That seems to imply parallels between Adolf Hitler and Barack Obama. Do you see such parallels?
Weppner response: To me the article was a humorous way to warn of the dangers of  not vetting a candidate properly, of relying on press reports that sound nice but have no substance in the report. To me it implies that Greek pillars, chanting for candidates and songs about them is bordering on dangerous idolatry.   To me it simply pointed out the dangers history has taught us in wholehearted support without doing your own critical evaluation. Stepford Media helps create Stepford Voters.  The article meant more about the criteria we are relying on to elect candidates in this modern age. 

Weppner final  analysis:  
Jeepers Jerry. You missed a few really important things. Did you read past the first line? Or did the rest not fit your agenda?

Again – WTF does any of this mean? Zremsky accurately condensed her response into something readable, and she’s complaining that he didn’t add in her pithy “Stepford Media” quote? She equated Barack Obama with Adolf Hitler because ha ha socialism and foreign. Any attempt by her to turn it into something about “vetting” is utter bullshit. There was no lack of vetting of Hitler. Hitler, first of all, was not duly elected to the Reichstag in 1933 in anything remotely similar to what the US did in 2008 or 2012. Secondly, Hitler and his ideology was well-known to Germans thanks to his 720 page book, “Mein Kampf”.

That book was a best-seller in Weimar Germany, and required reading between 1933 – 1945. The first chapter details Hitler’s upbringing in Austria, the fact that he fought in World War I for the dual monarchy, and his coming-of-age in Vienna. None of these pieces of information was unknown, and whether Hitler’s father had lots of kids with lots of women seems microscopically irrelevant in comparison to the malevolence for which he is remembered. 

Weppner’s “final analysis” is ridiculous on its face. 

Continuing to criticize The News’ line of questioning, she said: “Should I assume the NEWS supports the Obama administration’s new proposal to have the federal government investigate and monitor how newsroom editors decide topics and how topics affect policy?”

Asked about that purported policy, Debra Gersh Hernandez, spokesperson for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said: “I have no idea what she’s talking about.”

Weppner final analysis: 
I stand by my responses. Can the NEWS stand by it’s reporting? How could the news have missed this story that was covered internationally?  Can the NEWS stand by its’ sources? Stepford Media produces Stepford America. I read  ‘The FCC Wades Into the Newsroom…Why is the agency studying ‘perceived station bias’ and asking about coverage choices?’ This article published in the Wall Street Journal, written by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai in Feb.HTTP://ONLINE.WSJ.COM/NEWS/ARTICLES/SB10001424052702304680904579366903828260732    Quote FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai:

“Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission, where I am a commissioner, does not agree. Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.”

 I also read ‘CC Suspends Critical Information Needs Pilot Study …Will change methodology and will not ask questions of journalists or owners’ 2/21/2014  in broadcasting.com saying the questions were way out of line:http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/fcc-suspends-critical-information-needs-pilot-study/129333   

– “The study has come under fire, fueled by commissioner Ajit Pai’s op ed in the Wall Street Journal this week taking issue with it.”

– “”Chairman Wheeler agreed that survey questions in the study directed toward media outlet managers, news directors, and reporters overstepped the bounds of what is required. Last week, chairman Wheeler informed lawmakers that the commission has no intention of regulating political or other speech of journalists or broadcasters and would be modifying the draft study. Yesterday, the chairman directed that those questions be removed entirely.

–  Commisssioner Ajit Pai “The Commission has now recognized that no study by the federal government, now or in the future, should involve asking questions to media owners, news directors, or reporters about their practices. This is an important victory for the First Amendment. And it would not have been possible without the American people making their voices heard. I will remain vigilant that any future initiatives not infringe on our constitutional freedoms.”

Look again. Weppner characterized this as the “Obama administration’s” proposal to intercede in the newsroom. The FCC is an independent agency, not directed by the White House, but run by a bipartisan board. It was one study that the FCC was conducting in one Southern market, and it responded to reporters’ concerns by halting it altogether. It wasn’t an effort to monitor, but to study. Here is the text of the questions asked. It’s a far cry from that to “OBAMA IN UR NEWSROOM ZOMG”. 

Weppner final analysis of Buffalo NEWS and the article published: Kathy Weppner response:

Attached find my response to your questions. Sorry about the delay I was out of the country. Monday I will be releasing a report to the media regarding a pressing issue facing Western New York. You will be included in that release. I am currently putting together my platform and when that is completed we can sit down for an interview.

Dear Mr. Zremski,

Reviewing your questions, I note that you did not ask one question about Western New York or about my agenda. Given the problems facing WNY I am surprised you’d focus on the minutia of radio talk show fodder, which is nothing more than food-for- thought-discussion. Additionally, just as your e-mail demonstrates, like reporters, hosts are often influenced from above regarding timely topics for discussion. Should I assume the NEWS supports the Obama administration’s new proposal to have the Federal government investigate and monitor how newsroom editors decide topics and how topics affect policy? 
Please know that I have no intention of responding to every topic I have ever discussed over the last 9 years. As a subscriber to the Buffalo NEWS I can assure you that if something is printed in the NEWS it does not mean the information is always credible. My time will be spent on agenda items. Now that we’ve addressed your editor’s pressing questions I would ask the NEWS to focus its’ attention on the real issues that matter to Western New York.

I am a strong supporter of a free press because I believe a strong press is a crucial component of a Democratic Republic. The Founders envisioned a strong checks- and- balance free press with robust debate. However, as my website will explain, we are now living in an age of “yellow journalism” and blatant bias. There is a whole generation now that has not been taught about yellow journalism. I will deal with that element on my website. You are free to print what you want.

As I said at my announcement, it is not for the media to pick winners or losers. I believe that the greatest threat to our American Republic is not whether you have a D-Democrat or R-Republican on your registration; rather, it is a media that serves it rather than the people. When the public fears to discuss what the media refuses to report, our country and our hard-earned freedom is lost. When the media assumes the election is over before it begins WNY loses.

I am aware that you have a new Editor at the NEWS since the last Congressional elections so please convey the following NEWS look-back information regarding the 2012 26th district race. To my memory, the NEWS published 2, perhaps 3 articles on Mr. Higgins’ opponent Mike Madigan with an overwhelming press focused on the Hochul- Collins race. The reporting was so out of balance this created much confusion for voters. Due to the last minute redistricting, no maps were available at the county. I along with many other voters contacted the NEWS and requested a map with street names be published so folks could figure out whose district they were in. The NEWS acknowledged the problem, but took no action. I spoke to many voters who did not know for sure until arriving at the poll, which district they were placed in, this despite the fact that the 26th district contains the two largest cities in WNY, Buffalo & Niagara Falls. 

As I stated in my announcement, a strong America was built by competition. The most important element is the competition and melting of ideas. WNY is no different. America must never allow politicians the comfort of having no competition. I will be tackling many of WNY challenges on my website. My time will be focused not on minutia and character assault but on the issues impacting WNY. I invite the Buffalo NEWS to rise to the challenge and to explore the issues anew with an open mind. I urge you to bring your A-team because WNY deserves nothing less.

As of Tuesday morning, this passage has been redacted. Probably because it’s a little crazy and more evidence of the end of punctuation. 

To the people of Western New York:  YELLOW JOURNALISM IS NOT MY PROBLEM…. IT IS OUR PROBLEM. The Buffalo NEWS has been caught red-handed manipulating the facts to manipulate the outcome of a campaign before it even starts.  You deserve better. The Buffalo NEWS owes a huge apology to its’ readers and to you.  It’s time for Western New York to empower themselves and demand it!    end analysis

 “Melting of ideas” alright. 

Perhaps Zremski’s article wasn’t an article at all. Perhaps Weppner missed its inherent irony; that 

“To me the article was a humorous way to warn of the dangers of not vetting a candidate properly, of relying on press reports that sound nice but have no substance…”

When the light of “vetting a candidate properly” is shined on Weppner, she takes out her shovel and digs her whole ever-deeper.  

I have a hard time believing that a serious adult wrote any of this, as it reads more like some of the blithering rantings you’d find at an online forum. It’s always a good strategy, I suppose, for Weppner to run against the media. It’ll play great with the base. But as far as her having any mainstream credibility whatsoever, it wasn’t Zremski’s article that torpedoed that so much as this astonishing response to it. 

Oh, and don’t bother trying to delete it. I took a screencap

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. 

Shorter Esmonde

1. Sergio Rodriguez is a swell guy, but he has no hope – a “sand castle has a better chance in a tsunami”. So, I will label his run for Mayor “quixotic” and otherwise dismiss him altogether, while doling out some faint praise. 

2. James Sampson is a wealthy and important person, and if there’s one thing I like, it’s wealthy and important people. He “aches” for the schools, and wants to change them. Don’t forget that my wife works for the school district, I sure didn’t bother to disclose it this week. Also remember that only the city schools matter, and suburban schools – and everyone in them – can go rot in hell

As always, Donn Esmonde is an Ass

Dabkowski Goes to the Theater

On Wednesday night, #Buffalo struck Twitter gold: