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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Papers like The Record, which rarely explores issues, are real enemy of people

Deirdre Sykes, left, former editor of The Record, will end a 30-year career at the daily newspaper on March 24, according to a New York Post report. Sykes was promoted to editor in January 2016, only to be demoted seven months later by Gannett Co., new owners of North Jersey Media Group, which publishes the paper.


-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Readers are hungry for reporting on such issues as health care, a cleaner environment and local property taxes.

But in the past decade or so, The Record of Woodland Park has been playing up partisan politics in New Jersey and the nation to such an extent that issues are rarely discussed.

Now that President Trump has moved to repeal the Affordable Care Act, revive the coal industry and water down environmental controls, editors continue to cover protests in the same old way.

Why compare people pushing back against Trump policies to the Tea Party, the radical Republican group that claimed President Obama's national health insurance plan was a modern-day Holocaust?

And it's not enough for The Record's editorial board to declare, as it does today, "Improve the ACA [Affordable Care Act]. Do not repeal it. This is about health care, not politics" (16A).

Christie sabotage

The editorial board sat on their hands when Governor Christie sought to sabotage the law by refusing to set up a state health-care exchange several years ago, reducing residents' choice of insurance policies.

And Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin did the same when Republicans in Congress tried and failed dozens of times to repeal the 2010 law.

Last Saturday, Trump called the media "the enemy of the American people."

That prompted a New York Times reader to write a letter to the editor:
"You've got to hand it to Donald Trump. He knows how to use the media to his advantage. It was candidate Trump who received at least $2 billion worth of media coverage with his dramatics on the campaign trail.
"Now, President Trump uses the media again, this time denigrating the media for reporting what they see. He creates 'the enemy,' because he needs to avoid substantive comments on real issues, and his oft-repeated 'believe me' can be the only truth his followers hear."

Front page news?

The Record's reaction to all the push back has been inconsistent, as least judging from the front page.

On Wednesday's front page, Staff Writer Lindy Washburn finally delivered a story on the devastating impact of an ACA repeal on more than 1 million New Jersey seniors covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

And most of the rest of the page was devoted to Trump ordering a federal crackdown on illegal immigrants, and reaction from supporters and opponents. 

But a local issue, whether Ramsey's Planning Board will allow a large indoor firing range to operate in town, is wrongly portrayed as a "Second Amendment fight" and a "battleground over the Second Amendment," which Trump has vowed to defend (Wednesday's 1A).

It's nothing of the kind. The town isn't challenging the so-called right of gun owners to bear arms or trying to take away their firearms.

It just doesn't want gun owners coming to Ramsey in large numbers. Who can blame town officials?

Imagine the potential for an accidental discharge of a firearm or a road rage incident where two gun owners decide to start shooting. 

Readers shocked

Most of today's front page is wasted on whether Christie will take over when "longtime afternoon drive host Mike Francesca [who?] retires from WFAN 660-AM, " a sports-talk radio station (1A).

I long ago stopped listening to AM static, and I'm no sports fan, but does "shock jock" in the headline refer to a jock strap?

Christie has executed more than 500 vetoes since 2009 -- surely setting a record for a governor of New Jersey -- but Staff Writer Dustin Racioppi of The Record still hasn't reported on all the damage they have caused or even discussed the issues involved in any detail.

Most of them were reported as Christie v. the Democrats who control the state Legislature.

The GOP thug screwed the middle and working classes in New Jersey, but took credit for the expansion of Medicaid after he accepted hundreds of millions of federal dollars to do so.

And after Bridgegate and all those vetoes, who cares what he does when he leaves office. Good riddance.

Deirdre Sykes

Gannett has announced that former Editor Deirdre Sykes is leaving The Record on March 24. 

See: Sykes spent years fighting her way to top