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Let’s identify what ‘bias’ really means

Jeff Ackerman, Publisher
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

If you look hard enough you’ll find something in the media you agree with. Then it magically becomes “unbiased.”

With less than a month to go before Election Day 2002, the natives are getting restless, which is not good for the media.

For the past several days I’ve been bombarded by electronic allegations of “coverup” and suggestions that I am “in bed” with people other than my wife.



Here’s the gist of those allegations:

According to the “unbiased” media, such as KVMR radio, a website backing liberal … I mean “progressive” candidates … and a couple of alternative newspapers in Chico and Sacramento (owned by the same company), Supervisor Izzy Martin has been out picking flowers while the Forces of Evil, led by developers, engineers (this is the first I had heard of sneaky engineers being involved) and other “good ol’ boys,” have been plotting against her.




“Why is The Union not covering this?” one e-mailer wanted to know. “The Union can be a GREAT paper for a progressive community, please do your best to cover the issues.”

“Progressive” is the preferred term for “liberal” these days, but they still refer to the other side as “conservative land rapers.” And, the writer seems to suggest that we could be GREAT if we simply published stuff he agrees with.

Not wanting to get scooped on a juicy piece of hard news, I decided to read the unbiased accounts in the Chico and Sacramento papers and here are some excerpts:

“The type of dirty campaigning that in recent years has been the bane of Butte County politics has apparently invaded the Board of Supervisors race in Nevada County, where four years ago progressives wrested power from the conservatives …” I added the italics in the event you missed the unbiased nouns. That sounds like a fair and balanced opener, doesn’t it?

It goes on to report that some “hatchet man” named John Gillander may have been responsible for sending out some unflattering mailers about Martin. Our reporter is looking into that .

The Chico paper’s sister publication in Sacramento (interesting how a state capital newspaper had to look all the way up here to find a cover story on “dirty politics”) followed up with a cover story on Martin titled, “Martin Under Assault.”

Here are some excerpts from that “unbiased” story (Italics also added):

“Four years ago, she (Martin) and another supervisor, Bruce Conklin, each defeated conservative incumbents, tilting the board for the first time to a 4-1 majority interested in making sure the county’s growth did not come at the expense of its quiet, rural atmosphere. As rural preservationists, they aimed to steer growth into established areas and avoid plopping new subdivisions onto farmland. It didn’t go over well with some county residents.”

So, for the first time ever, Nevada County had supervisors who cared about it, much to the dismay of some county residents who don’t want their elected officials to care about anything.

The “unbiased” story goes on to report that Izzy’s opponent, Robin Sutherland, “can come across as the kind of nice lady you’d meet at a church barbecue or behind the reference desk at the library, but she’s not shy about lashing out at her opponent.”

By comparison, Izzy is described as someone who, “hardly appears to be such a menacing figure. As the August sun sank behind the oak trees in the west one day, Martin and her daughter grabbed buckets and went out to the field to pick flowers.”

For a moment I thought I was reading “Mary Poppins.”

It then suggests that The Union has published mean letters about Izzy, but not Sutherland, which isn’t true. Letter writers have been equally mean.

Izzy couldn’t have written the story better herself. Most candidates would need to buy an ad for that kind of campaign coverage.

The other “story” we’re accused of hiding comes from a woman who says Drew Bedwell stuck his foot in her door during his campaign stumping (no pun intended). She says she tried to close her door while Bedwell was detailing his campaign platform, but that he wouldn’t let her. Bedwell says it never happened. So the cops have one of those “she-said, he-said” capers on their hands. The “she-said” side would like to see the allegation on page 1. The “he-said” side would not.

The “unbiased” media thinks it’s a great story. We’d rather wait for the investigation to conclude.

So there you have it. Those of you who were thinking of voting for Sutherland now know the “real” story. She may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing and some of her handlers are even wolfier, if that’s a word.

And Bedwell may or may not have a sore foot.

Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299,


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