Oregonian Unfair on JTTF

Randy Leonard

I will be the first to admit I am not the best writer in the world. However, I have received a couple of back-handed compliments since I began posting to Blue Oregon last summer.

“Wow, Randy, I really liked the article posted under your name at Blue Oregon. Who wrote it for you?” more than one person has inquired.

In the past few months, the Oregonian has written two editorials blasting my stance on withdrawing from the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Read their most recent editorial here.

My literary limitations notwithstanding, I drafted what I believed was a coherent rebuttal to the Oregonian editorials in the form of an In My Opinion piece that I have posted on my city web site here. They wrote back and asked me to cut it down my submission by half into the more modest "Letter to the Editor" category. Accordingly, I painstakingly reduced my piece to exactly 250 words.

So, I open the paper this morning and see my Letter to the Editor has been published. However, the following section had been further edited out of my condensed submission;

“It was my vote two years ago that caused a resolution opposing the invasion of Iraq to fail at the city council. I based my vote on the representations by the Bush Administration that they had incontrovertible evidence that weapons of mass destruction existed within Iraq.

My position regarding the JTTF is not politically motivated, as suggested by the editorial board. More accurately, it is based on an old saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.’”

Now, again, I know I am far from an accomplished writer….but, damn it, that was my favorite part of the piece I submitted.

After reading my published Letter, I turned the page and, in utter shock and disbelief, saw an “In My Opinion” piece written by Jim Jeddeloh, entitled:

“Maintain ties to the terrorism task force”

His published piece ends with saying if the council pulls out of the JTTF it is “contrary to the oath they took when they took office.”

In my opinion, it is incumbent upon the Oregonian to engage the community in reasoned debate. To refuse me the same forum and space they allow for themselves and those who agree with them on this issue ultimately diminishes their standing in our community.

Come on Editorial Board, fair is fair.

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    I'm with ya, Randy. I find it curious that the Oregonian finds not a whit of evidence to be concerned about City police being involved on a regular basis in FBI work. I'll give two words of evidence: Brandon Mayfield. If he had lived in Northwest Portlans instead of Washington County, it's very possible that the City would be under threat of lawsuit right now.

    And when various ethnic groups were "encouraged" to come in for interviews, and the FBI wanted our help in rounding them up, it was put forth that this violated City and state rules--and if I recall right, local officials refused to participate.

    The next time you are asked about JTTF by other media, be sure and point out your trials with the Oregonian.

    Off-topic: did you see the other LTEs for today? A middle schooler replied on an article about kids not knowing their civics--and promptly took the paper's report to task for getting THEIR facts wrong. Ooops.

    Hold strong, Randy. There's no reason to be intimidated by the same kind of "what are you, Communist?" rhetoric that some quarters have been using to squelch dissent for 3 years now.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Fun kids down at The Oregonian, ain't they? What they have done to some on my submissions would be difficult to explain as saving ink or increasing clarity. At times they make me sound downright foolish. I know they can't be doing that on purpose.

    Anyway, it's their paper. Such is the free press.

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    Anyway, it's their paper. Such is the free press.

    it is, but they operate under the pretense of balance. This sort of behavior (for which I just took them to task on my site before seeing this post) would be defensible if they didn't pretend to be living up to their professed responsibility to the public debate.

    If they are going to exert this much editorial control over the op-eds, in order to buttress their own editorials, they need to cop to that policy openly.

  • Ken Spice (unverified)

    Add me to the long list of people with complaints about how the Oregonian's editorial folks alter, rewrite, and otherwise hack submissions.

    If you hold an opinion that Oregonian Editorial doesn't like, they'll mess with you any way they can. It's amazing how removing a few key words and phrases here and there can completely alter the message, or at very least the tone. Then there are all the issues of page placement, Letters to the Editor versus In My Opinion pieces, etc. And let's not get started on the misleading statements and outright lies.

    As far as I can tell, it boils down to this: the op-ed pages of the Oregonian use a variety of underhanded tactics to "frame the debate" in a way that benefits a very narrow sector of society.

    Happily, in Oregon there are plenty of people who aren't swayed by the tricky slick-talkers. Wish I could say the same about my current place of residence.

    Unlike Tom, I'm sure I sometimes/often sound plenty foolish all on my own, so I don't blame 'em for that :-)

    I can't imagine anything more foolish than willingly giving up to the government those civil rights which our forebears have given to us as inalienable, and completely independent of and irrespective of, government.

  • Miles (unverified)


    Thank you for your position on this issue. By taking this position you are making a powerful statement about the kind of society we want to have here in Portland.


  • Jonathan (unverified)

    And when Ms. Rowe appeared at City Club and trumpeted the high ethics of the Oregonian ... well, we were up to our knees in that crap a long time ago ... now we're up to our chests. Thank God for those plastic bags on the papers! Or maybe not.

  • Jerry (unverified)

    I long ago gave up on the Oregonian.

    Papers that are more ad than news.

    An editorial slant that is contrary to the city it is published in.

    An apparent blindness to the local stories that should be published.

    Why bother?

  • Duke Shepard (unverified)

    I honestly don't know that I agree with you on the JTTF issue Commissioner, but I know how you come at issues and tend to trust your judgement. As to The Oregonian imbalance, let's remember that The Oregonian's Publisher, Mt. Stickel, is or at least was a founding and leading member of the Citizen's Crime Commission. Mr. Jeddoloh is the Chair of that Commission. Of course the Oregonian doesn't mention this connection in the summary of Mr. Jeddoloh's background.

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    FYI, I've got more information on current oversight practices.

  • Lisa Loving (unverified)

    I do not read The Oregonian anymore, and almost no one on my street has it delivered -- 10 years ago everyone had a subscription. There are some dang fine writers and editors over there, but somehow the total is less than the sum of its parts. I often wonder of some of the outrageous gaffes I've seen in the news section come from incompetence rather than crass manipulation. Many of the worst errors in judgement have occured since veteran editor Oscar Spicer retired three or so years ago -- errors such as the banner headline which read: "Goldschmidt admits affair with girl, 14." As I stood in the grocery store at 7 a.m. on a Sunday and read that headline, I knew I would never trust this paper again -- a chimp would have seen that was not an affair, it was a felony.

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