Remembering Ogden’s Bransfield coverage
2019’s biggest local news story was the corruption and sexual scandals surrounding the former bishop of the Wheeling-Charleston diocese, Michael Bransfield. Despite being located in the same city as Bransfield, the Wheeling papers did no investigating of the bishop – that was left to an outside-the-state newspaper, the Washington Post. Consequently, most of the local coverage of the scandal, beyond reporting the press releases of the diocese, took the form of rewrites (and even plagiarism) of the Post’s investigation.
Despite having done nothing to investigate Bransfield, the local papers did run editorials like this one:
Who knew? Why did no one act?
Similarly, editor Mike Myer, also wrote two columns making the same point. For example:
If Bransfield Did All These Things For So Long, How Did He Get Away With It?
While always asking how Bransfield could get away with it, none of the editorials/columns ever mentioned the role that a local media investigation could have played in bringing some of the bishop’s many questionable actions to light much earlier than last year. Instead, they blamed the diocese. As I wrote last year:
Myer rightly questions the diocese but that is as far as he goes. I’m sure he, like anyone in the area who does not live under a rock, has heard rumors about some of Bransfield’s action in the 13 years that Bransfield has served the diocese. But, as one of the few institutions that had the ability to investigate and bring to light the wrongdoing in the Catholic Church, Ogden Newspapers have clearly given Bransfield a free pass.
Much like the Bransfield scandal, Ogden papers have done little to investigate local racism
In today’s column, “Taking the Easy Way Out Regarding Bigotry,” editor Mike Myer argues for “an honest, objective discussion” about racism:
All sorts of talking points are available to those who want to discuss Floyd’s death, protest marches and rioting. Some of the arguments, on both sides, are valid.
But they all miss the point: We’re not willing to have an honest, objective discussion about bigotry.
"We're not willing." Is that true? I believe many area residents would welcome an honest, objective discussion. Here is the problem: most who would want such a discussion are individuals with little power it to make it happen. On the other hand, as I pointed out in my Bransfield discussion, newspapers have influence and standing in the community; they have far more ability to make a real discussion happen.
What have Myer and Ogden done to promote “an honest, objective discussion about bigotry”? I would answer “nothing.” Why doesn’t Ogden sponsor a town hall with a wide range of speakers? (Perhaps get local channel 7 to televise it.) How about getting a local scholar to write a history of Wheeling’s racism like the recent one that Ogden published on the 1918-19 pandemic flu? Why not ask local citizens involved in combating racism to write op-eds? Why not work with the area colleges' or the library's speaker series to bring different viewpoints to Wheeling? (This is just a start -- I’m sure that readers can think of other ways to open-up a local discussion on racism.)
And what do the actual Ogden papers do to promote an "honest, objective discussion”? Except for Reverend Darrell Cummings, I believe almost every writer writing about race on their opinion pages is conservative. With rare exceptions, their editorial page syndicated columnists start at right wing and move to reactionary from there. How do you get an “honest discussion” when a typical day’s editorial page includes a Town Hall columnist paired with the racist or xenophobic attitudes of a Pat Buchanan or Michele Malkin? Some honesty toward President Trump would also be helpful; if you go by the number of local editorials on the subject, President Trump has never said or done anything racist. Ever.
I’m sorry, I do not think that Myer wants an honest discussion. If he did, he certainly has ways to implement it. No, like his papers’ Bransfield coverage, I think he wants credit for his concern without having to do anything. The column's title,“Taking the Easy Way Out Regarding Bigotry,” sums it up nicely.
Off-topic but it should be noted that today’s “Region” section that includes opinion has yet another vicious political cartoon attacking Michigan’s Governor Whitmer. (#6 in the series.) Maybe when Myer finishes his honest discussion about bigotry, he can move on to sexism.