Why is the media joining the anti-Damascus chorus?
As the city manager of the newly reborn city of Damascus, I have faced a lot of challenges. Some were to be expected. There is the anti-government group who killed the city of Damascus in the first place. They, or at this point he, are working hard to kill it again. I understand that. Then there is Clackamas County. They are also working hard to stop the city from becoming functional. For them it's about money in the form of tax base. Then there was Sen. Shemia Fagan's use of her legislative power to help a city in her district over one that is not. In her case, it's about power and the need to pander to voters. With politicians the equation is always about doing anything to stay in power.
So, I understand why the "kill Damascus" groups do what they do. It's all about money and power. But what I can't understand is what is happening with the press. These days, the press is rated as low as politicians because many media outlets have lost their professional compass and started playing politics. CNN is the case study in a mainstream media outlet that lost their credibility by joining others like MSNBC and CBS in their Trump bashing. The public has always allowed that publisher opinion is reserved for the editorial page. But reporters are not allowed this privilege.
So, I have been perplexed by the behavior of Oregon's only statewide newspaper in its coverage of the city's rebirth. Notice my use of the word "rebirth." As the city manager and an advocate for the city, I can be expected to use positive words like "rebirth", "reborn" and even "resurrected."
The problem I have is that an Oregonian reporter is using words like "zombie," and the reporter's newspaper allows it. So, I have to wonder why. It's not about power or money. What motivates a report and a major newspaper to stray from the accepted norms of ethical journalism? Why is the Oregonian pushing to kill of a city in Oregon? Why is the Oregonian on the side of a Tea Party driven, anti-government and anti-land use planning group? Especially, when this group is targeting the very soul of Oregon's Statewide Land Use Planning Goals tool — the comprehensive plan.
Where is the expected liberal media bias? At this point, all I can give you are theories about The Oregonian's conservative bias. The Media Bias folks says so. The very liberal Willamette Week observed that in "recent years been at odds with Portland's liberal orthodoxy." By recent years, they are referring to the years that Erik Lukens' libertarian, anti-government bias had sway. One Portland city councilor said that "We're not going to be bullied by some sorry Orange County right-wing publisher."
I wrote a letter to the editor about it. Never saw it despite the editor saying she would run it. I assume she will run it after the Governor signs the Damascus death warrant - Senate Bill 226. I have contacted The Oregonian chief editor about this issue and asked to sit down and talk about it. Fat chance.
So that's my theory and I am sticking to it.
Richard Carson is the city manager of Damascus.
Editor's note: The Oregonian's top editor, Therese Bottomly, says Carson did not contact her to discuss this issue, and the editorial page editor did not promise that Carson's letter would be published. Lukens left the Oregonian in 2016, and the former publisher referenced in this letter departed the paper in 2015.
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