To the editor: In an Aug. 23 article on his website, commentator Dermot Cole reported Facebook posts of Borough Assembly candidate Patricia Silva. Ms. Silva embraces many bizarre and absurd claims propagated by QAnon crazies; that President Biden is a pedophile, bones of children in White House tunnels, the glorious Trump Restoration. Cole also revealed numerous Silva Facebook rants, against Covid vaccines, masks, Democrats and, of course, Jews. In addition to reproducing Silva Facebook screen shots filled with her wacko opinions, Cole’s commentary referred to her as “right wing” and states that she “spouts endless crackpot claims.” His report was demonstrably fact-based and verifiable, and his reference to Silva as “right wing” clearly the prerogative of a commentator.
In her Aug. 30 FDNM article, “Assembly candidate scrubs social media of QAnon-like posts,” journalist Amanda Bohman repeats Cole’s reporting, cites the removal of posts from Silva’s Facebook after News-Miner contact, and reveals that Silva never responded to FDNM requests for comment. Bohman professionally acknowledges Cole’s reporting as the source for her story, while referring to Cole as a “left-leaning” commentator.
What’s the evidence that Cole is “left-leaning”? Fact-leaning, as evidenced through documentation in his report; yes. Truth-leaning, because the truth of Cole’s article is incontrovertible; of course. But what’s the evidence for Bohman’s “left-leaning” assertion? Is this journalist and fact-finder Bohman’s private opinion only? If yes, I suggest she review her journalism 101 notes to recall the difference between reporting facts and injecting private opinion into a piece that’s supposed to be reporting and not commentary.
Some people will see this as making a mountain out of a mole hill. Others of us feel words do matter, believe accuracy in reporting important, and that there should still be a bright line separating reportage and opinion. At a tough time for newspapers everywhere, and when our News-Miner limps along on Tribune filler stories and Britney Spears happenings, perhaps this is not their biggest problem to fix but I feel the least we should expect from our paper is that reporters distinguish opinion from fact and that an editor does his job when they fail.