Letters, Camden Herald
A hard right turn
The writers for “Another View” have commented over the past months on issues important to Maine citizens – education, healthcare, welfare reform, taxes, and unemployment. However, Ken Frederic’s May 16 column (“Do We Really Want Clean Elections?”) took a hard right turn into the realm of partisan politics, prompting me to investigate the underlying agenda of these “concerned citizens who meet each week in the Midcoast to discuss events of public interest.”
Mr. Frederic, according to his LinkedIn bio, is “active in our local Tea Party” and “testifies against things like gun control and welfare expansion.” He is a Top Commenter on themainewire.com, which describes itself on Facebook as Maine’s “only source for Conservative policy news.” Mainewire is also affiliated with the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a right-wing think tank that advocates shrinking government services, opposing healthcare reform, privatizing public education, and attacking workers' rights. (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Maine_Heritage_Policy_Center). Inquiring minds might wonder if the others in his group have similar resumes.
Tea Party affiliation aside, it is the content of his opinion piece that is disturbing. Under the guise of berating Maine People’s Alliance (check them out on Facebook and Google) for producing ads suggesting that Republican legislators have caved to LePage in his opposition to Medicaid expansion, Frederic turned his column about clean elections into a rant against MPA. Nothing wrong with that either, except that he claimed the Bangor Daily News characterized the MPA as a “shadowy nonprofit with secret funding and it’s own agenda” and a “radical left-wing group that serves as the ground forces of the (Democrat) Party.” True, his quote did appear on the BDN website, but not in a news article. It came straight out of an opinion piece in the conservative blog 207red which is on the BDN website (red207.bangordailynews.com/2014/05/08/leftwinggroupoutofbounds/). Frederic cites another red207 link at the end of his editorial, also calling it a BDN “article.” Mr. Frederic apparently does not understand the difference between blogs and traditional newspaper articles, but he must know that anyone can create a blog entry and publish it without facing editorial scrutiny.
With elections approaching, it is of utmost importance that readers of the Camden Herald and other print media pay attention not only to what is said, but how it is said and how it is slanted, especially in opinion pieces. If you come across something that seems questionable, then gather additional information before deciding what to believe about an issue, group, or candidate. Take the time to verify what is quoted as fact. Opinion is a great medium for expressing one’s view, but it is also a vehicle for spinning information to suit one’s agenda.