August 02, 2004

Secular brownshirt update

A few days ago the Palm Beach Post reported on the shocking discovery that a receptionist in the offices of Jeb Bush's general council had offended public decency by posting a horrible, dangerous greeting card with a cross on it in her personal space.

Apparently the newspaper has received a great deal of flak for exposing this psychopath's activities, because they have now published a clarifying article:

Ms. Rodriguez faxed a letter, however, protesting "the rude and unprofessional behavior of [Tallahassee bureau chief] S.V. Date and his photographer on July 22, 2004." She said Mr. Date "burst into the Office of General Counsel to the Governor and verbally accosted our receptionist Mrs. Heidemarie Smith, a valued employee of the state of over 13 years, while his photographer snapped pictures without Mrs. Smith's consent."

The photographer "then leaned over Mrs. Smith's desk, peering down at her to read her employee badge," said Ms. Rodriguez. "Mr. Date and the photographer made Mrs. Smith feel so violated and scared that she went into an attorney's office to cry after the ordeal. I request Mr. Date and the photographer apologize to Mrs. Smith. As for the article itself, it warrants no response."

Post Managing Editor John Bartosek wrote Ms. Rodriguez, saying, "We respectfully disagree with your characterization of S.V. Date's actions." Both the reporter and the photographer, he said, "confirm that Mr. Date was polite and professional during his brief visit to the office.

There, see, the paper's reporter and photographer say that the paper's Tallahassee bureau chief wasn't rude and unprofessional to the cross-wielding maniac, so it must be true.

My take is that the article conveyed legitimate public-interest issues. Editors did not overplay it. It was balanced with a Bush spokesman's comment that the card had been posted for more than a year, that the office had not received any complaints about it and that it honored the Sept. 11 victims.

Here's an interesting lesson in How Newspaper People Think: Having quoted a Democratic senator and two secular brownshirts about the devastation a cardboard cross is capable of wreaking on a civilized society, they find a single spokesman for the governor to say that they haven't received any complaints. The purpose of this simplistic gainsaying is to paint Jeb Bush as some sort of boob who doesn't realize that civilization will fall about his ears unless he clears Ms. Smith's bulletin board of subversive religious emblems. This is called "balance."

But if not for the history of Mr. Date's solid reporting, I don't think the governor's office would have tried, once again, to make the reporter the issue.

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