Letter to the Editors of my Hometown Newspaper

©2015 by Jack Andrew Urquhart     425 words

There is little chance the editors will publish this letter; nevertheless, I write one last time to express my dismay at the total absence of balance and objectivity on the Apopka Chief’s opinion pages courtesy of columnists Richard Corbeil and Patti Bankson. To be clear, the Constitution guarantees these two the freedom to express their opinions, likewise, the editors’ right to publish them. However, by limiting political commentary to a single ultra conservative perspective, the Chief’s editors subscribe to one of the worst trends (in my opinion) in the American news media’s coverage of politics. I refer to “advocacy journalism” and the practice of ‘singing to the choir’—i.e., featuring only political commentary that will feed or reinforce a largely sympathetic audience’s preconceived biases, prejudices, and hatreds. It is a practice that demonizes—and thus, alienates—anyone harboring a different perspective, and that circumvents or stifles critical thinking and constructive compromise.

Corbeil and Bankson are masterful choirmasters in this regard. Week after week they cherry pick “evidence” religiously stripped of context, nuance, and occasionally even accuracy in orchestrating their mean-spirited anti-Obama, anti-Islamic, anti-anything non-white-Tea-Party-Republican-Judeo/Christian-and/or-heterosexual rants.

Please understand, I appreciate and seek out multiple points of view—including those that swing wildly from my own—in the various publications that I follow. How else but by stepping outside one’s own echo chamber and considering the various sides of an issue can one hope to make informed judgments? Unfortunately, the Apopka Chief’s advocacy of an endless one-note racket (conducted always with sanctimonious Christian piety by Corbeil and Bankson) on its opinion pages bears no likeness to balanced, independent journalism.

The last straw for this reader has been columnist Corbeil’s repeated advocacy of a U.S. -waged nuclear war in the Middle East (his preferred solution to the scourge of ISIS) and his cavalier dismissal of the inevitable hundreds of thousands in collateral-damage deaths that would follow. Apparently Corbeil’s belief in the infallibility of “American Exceptionalism” (a phrase coined, incidentally, by Joseph Stalin and promulgated these days by political absurdities the likes of Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal) is so extreme that he can easily justify those casualties. After all, most of the civilian victims would be Muslim, so no big deal!

Such jingoistic noise as this is unconscionable—so much so that I find I can no longer lend an ear to it, much less my support to the paper that publishes it to the near exclusion of any counter-balancing argument.

Please cancel my subscription to the Apopka Chief.

Author’s Note: While I do not usually air my political sympathies on this blog quite so blatantly as in this letter, my hometown newspaper’s egregious political bias has put me in a rare state—so much so that I couldn’t resist posting this early version of the letter I sent to the paper’s editors. A shortened version of the letter was published in the Apopka Chief (print edition) April 3, 2015.

About jaurquhart

Jack Andrew Urquhart was born in the American South. Following undergraduate work at the University of Florida, Gainesville, he taught in Florida's public schools. He earned a Master of Arts degree in English, Creative Writing, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was the winner of the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Award for Fiction (1991). His work has appeared online at Clapboard House Literary Journal, Crazyhorse Literary Journal, and Standards: The International Journal of Multicultural Studies. He is the author of So They Say, a collection of self-contained, inter-connected stories and the short story, They Say You Can Stop Yourself Breathing. Formerly a writing instructor at the University of Colorado’s Writing Program, Mr. Urquhart was, until 2010, a senior analyst for the Judicial Branch of California. He resides in southern California.
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3 Responses to Letter to the Editors of my Hometown Newspaper

  1. TermiteWriter says:

    How can anybody advocate a nuclear war for any reason? I’m appalled!

  2. Norman Jacobs says:

    We all tend to give more play to views and behaviors that reinforce what we already believe. It’s hard work to overcome this bias. Easier to follow the other bison over the cliff.

  3. Katie says:

    A friend that lives there just told me about his recent column about the Dem VP pick. He apparently highlights his intentionally myopic and lazy research. The shock jock wannabe wrote the most anti-Catholic material I have heard. (And I have read things from KKK).
    Thank you for the space to vent. 8)

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