Last Week’s Issue included a story from Florida — indeed one that most readers would “expect” to be based in Florida. Well, one reader responded with an age-old charge: it was (oh no!) political! He actually meant partisan — but it was neither. Let’s start with the story:
Florida Woman, Meet the Florida Bureaucracy
For years, residents of Delray Beach, Fla., complained to the city about their discolored, foul-smelling tap water. Some claimed it made them ill. In 2017, the city hired a new water inspector with decades of experience; Christine Ferrigan “identified faults in the municipal system that were allowing reclaimed sewer water to cross-contaminate the city’s drinking water supply,” says a report by federal investigators. Rather than reward her with congratulations, a promotion, and a pay raise (this is Florida, remember), “Our investigation showed that the city harassed and ultimately fired” her, “marching” her out of the office in front of co-workers in 2022. As a result of the federal investigation, the city has been ordered to pay a $1 million fine, and pay Ferrigan $818,500 in compensation for the retaliation. The city admits it spent 12 years covering up the problem rather than implement simple fixes that would have solved it. (RC/Miami Herald) …Probably for much less than $1.8 million.
See the hack partisan slander? No? Well, with that context, consider this response from LONG-time reader “DavidW” in, yes, Florida, who has “Gotta Comment”:
I bite my tongue with your infrequent bias — the few times any comes thru it leans left. If the quote below was part of an article that you quoted, and/or you did not insert it, then forget my email. I’m assuming it was your insertion.
In 1508 the first article about Delray Beach, I quote: “Rather than reward her with congratulations, a promotion, and a pay raise (this is Florida, remember),” which is a debating trick called a “snuck premise”. I know you probably don’t like DeSantis, after all, he’s messing up the teacher’s power there (a good thing) and bringing sanity to the state. But I do expect you to “report the news” without op-eds.
You probably don’t know that while FL is red, Palm Beach County, where Delray Beach is, is heavily blue (remember the hanging chads of the Gore/Bush debacle). In 2020, the county went 56% Dem to 43% Repub. So Repubs had no control over this.
So my comment would be that you should have said “this is a Democrat controlled area, remember.” Just like Flint Michigan and their lead polluted water that ran for years and they did NOTHING about it even when they knew it was poisoning citizens — it has also been under Democrat control for decades.
So to hear that Delray (and/or Palm Beach) prosecuted the truth teller is just par for the course, because it made Dems LOOK BAD, and Dems are vicious when they react. One day you’ll learn that democrats don’t give a damn about anything but using group ID to keep power and even end up screwing the people who vote for them (as in this and the Flint example).
Just avoid the perverted use and false framing of true facts which is prevalent in how the left presents things with a goal of misleading, and I’ve got no complaints. (Glad to list a few if you want).
Stick to your knitting. You do a great job of running the site. It pains me when you step outside your mission. People don’t read True for insights on politics, they read it to see how silly people can be in real life — and to escape politics once in a while.
Do you see where DavidW went wrong? I mean, how could anyone who pays attention not see where he went wrong?! Readers and I even frequently discuss about how Florida is the “weirdest” state of them all, by far. Even recently, where I mentioned how that goes way, way back — probably even before DavidW’s time as a reader, which goes back at least 13 years (likely longer, with a different address).
In fact, Florida is featured in so many of True’s stories, readers comment on the rare occasions that there isn’t a story from Florida. So truly, it’s rather evident to any mid-term reader, let alone a long-time one, that Florida is quite a bit off kilter, as those many, many stories demonstrate — “this is Florida, remember?”
Does that have anything to do with politics? Not that I can see: when True started in 1994, the state’s governor was a Democrat (Chiles). He died in office and was replaced by another Democrat (MacKay). Since MacKay finished that term, the governors have all been Republicans (Jeb Bush, elected 1999 and Florida’s first two-term Republican governor; Crist, Scott, and current incumbent DeSantis).
That said, I doubt that who is seated in the governor’s chair has much to do with a state’s “weirdness,” let alone their political party: the state has been “weird” for many, many years. Plus, there are an awful lot of stupid people (and smart people) in each of those parties; being part of either party isn’t “weird” in itself.
Yet: Bias Clearly Shown!
So where did DavidW go wrong? He saw bias, but didn’t realize where it lay: in his own mind.
As I told him in response, there was nothing whatever in that story reflecting politics. Sure enough, no other readers responded with criticism (or praise) of that side comment as being political. While True (as I’ve been forced to point out repeatedly in the past 30 years) isn’t partisan, it doesn’t shy away from politics: I’ll point out stupidity in either side, going way back. Even Democrats serving in Florida. Or Democratic strongholds so well known, even I’m aware of their leanings.
My avoidance of political partisanship isn’t because I favor the Democrats or the Republicans, since both of them are hugely to blame for our political woes, for both similar and different reasons. And obviously both of their representatives do stupid things — likely including in the story above, but who knows the party of any of the participants? I don’t: that wasn’t reported in my sources, so it never entered my mind. Even DavidW admits I “probably don’t know” the county leans a little to the left, and he was right about that. And even if I knew, could I know the bureaucrats involved in the story are which part of the “56% Dem” or the “43% Repub”? Nope, so I can be “biased” about the politics behind their actions …how?
So this story presentation is not only not partisan, it’s not political. At all.
Of course, it’s clear DavidW doesn’t know their party affiliations either, so his criticism falls rather flat. Maybe he should “Stick to his knitting,” whatever the hell point that’s supposed to make. One day maybe he’ll learn that Republicans also don’t give a damn about anything but using group I.D. to keep power and even end up screwing the people who vote for them.
As for True’s “op-ed” tendencies, all readers should well know within a few weeks of reading that all of This is True is op-ed commentary. Every … freaking … story. These days most of the commentary is mine (as compared with the past when all of it was; see the section headed “And Last…” at that link), but the contributors get to express themselves too. And guess what? I don’t agree with everything they say, yet I let them say what they think as long as I don’t find it misleading or grossly missing the point (which is rare).
DavidW had the opportunity to “escape politics” …until he himself dragged politics into it, and incorrectly at that. That’s indeed part of what’s wrong in politics today: it’s so confrontational, “us vs them” without the understanding that “us” and “them” are citizens of the same country, and other countries that we don’t agree with relish that we are at war with each other — and work hard to foster that anger, typically using lies. It’s stupid, and DavidW fell right into that trap while apparently attempting to decry it.
That’s reacting rather than thinking, and I urge you, and DavidW, to avoid that trap by slowing down, putting thought to situations (especially if you find yourself reacting), and ask questions instead of confronting …even questioning whether it’s worth asking the question, which in this case it wasn’t.
Of course, again and again and again, those on the left claim along the lines that my infrequent bias — the few times any “comes thru” — leans right …and vice versa. Such as here to go way back, or here to go moderately back, or here for a more recent one, aptly in a post titled “Political Hypocrites”.
Again, as that last-linked page concludes, “Of course the point (as always!) is that True doesn’t target politicians (or cops, or military members, or Uber drivers, or…). The stories are about the actions of anyone who does things stupid enough to get into the news — including politicians regardless of party. That’s what ‘nonpartisan’ means: True doesn’t take sides.” And that’s still true, full stop.
And this story wasn’t about politicians per se, but nameless, faceless, partyless, and very stupid bureaucrats. In other words, a very common example of a This is True story.
P.S.: Extra points to readers who point out (in the Comments) DavidW’s logical fallacy. The “best” gets a True Check, even if it’s posted by DavidW.
– – –
Bad link? Broken image? Other problem on this page? Use the Help button lower right, and thanks.
This page is an example of my style of “Thought-Provoking Entertainment”. This is True is an email newsletter that uses “weird news” as a vehicle to explore the human condition in an entertaining way. If that sounds good, click here to open a subscribe form.
To really support This is True, you’re invited to sign up for a subscription to the much-expanded “Premium” edition:
Q: Why would I want to pay more than the minimum rate?
A: To support the publication to help it thrive and stay online: this kind of support means less future need for price increases (and smaller increases when they do happen), which enables more people to upgrade. This option was requested by existing Premium subscribers.