To the Editor:
The Maine Heritage Policy Center (MHPC) has just gone online with a site dedicated to providing news and information about the policies, policy-makers, ideas and events that affect our daily lives, our futures and the future of Maine. The site aims to provide daily reports on these subjects.
In an ideal world, Maine’s established media would welcome this site as a source for factual information not otherwise easily available and for ideas with which they are unfamiliar. In the real world, they are bound to feel a bit uneasy about its appearance.
There are a number of reasons that this is so. They don’t relish another Internet competitor at a time when almost all daily newspapers are suffering a decline in circulation and advertising revenue as readers look to such sites for their political information. The MHPC represents conservative and libertarian points of view with which Maine’s established media are uncomfortable and which they know little about and don’t care to learn more.
Many journalists seem to believe that they deal only with “the facts,” free of any ideas. The reality, that we are all influenced by idea that we learned and did not make ourselves, is unwelcome to them. Ideas that contradict what they believe—and have believed as far back as they can remember—they condemn as “ideologies,” and “ideology” has purely negative connotations. It is never a compliment to call someone a “fine ideologue,” and no one seeks praise for the excellence of their ideology.
We all have to struggle to distinguish between the facts we wish to believe because they fit our preconceived ideas and those we find obnoxious because they don’t. Conservatives and libertarians have an easier job in making these distinctions because they are almost certain to get a full exposure to liberal or “progressive” beliefs from the established media, from their educational institutions and from their professional lives, if they are journalists or academics.
Progressives have to make a more deliberate and determined effort at self-examination, since isolation from contrary points of view is easier from them.
Al Diamon, a Maine columnist who knows the media as well as anyone in the state, has already told us that his contacts in the established media scorn the site as lacking credibility because it’s an MHPC project—this before the site even got up and running. More revealing, a Bangor Daily News reporter denounced the MHPC is terms so nasty that he had to publish a hasty retraction and suffer a harsh renunciation from his publisher.
M.D. Harmon deals with this kind of progressive rigidity in a column entitled “Invincible Cluelessness,” which is available on MaineWire.com. A “Mid-Coast Editor” provides him with Exhibit A in the form an anonymous e-mail, which blends arrogance and ignorance in about equal proportions.
Mr. Harmon, a journalist with years of experience recently retired from the Portland Press Herald, will be writing a regular column. He will also interview politicians from both parties in a series entitled “In Their Own Words.” The first two are with Kathy Chase, a Republican representative from Wells, and Jon Hinck, a Democrat from Portland, who is a candidate for the U.S. Senate.
The videos are as advertised. The questions are similar for both, and both are given equal time to say their respective pieces. As a U.S. senate candidate, Hincks is given more time to present his views through attached video links.
Another feature is an extensive report by Terrilyn Simpson on “the first interactions between Maine State Housing Authority director Dale McCormick and her new board,” entitled “Blowin’ in the Wind: Housing Chief Faces New Scrutiny.” I found this both entertaining and informative. I don’t know Ms. McCormick, but I feel confident in saying that she will not find the article entertaining.
Terrilyn Simpson’s mission in life is to criticize bureaucracies and bureaucrats. It’s not a pleasant job, but somebody has to do it.
Readers will find all this and much more. Take a look: MaineWire.com.
Prof. John Frary
Professor John Frary of Farmington, Maine is a former US Congress candidate and retired history professor, a Board Member of Maine Taxpayers United and an associate editor of the International Military Encyclopedia, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org