Some liberals and leftists are claiming that liberal media bias doesn’t exist, and that the real problem is that conservatives dominate the media. Tell that to David Cheever. He was the editorial director of two newspapers in Maine, the Kennebec Journal and the Central Maine Morning Sentinel, and was fired for running a column critical of opening our borders to refugees and potential terrorists from Somalia. This case demonstrates that the liberal values of “tolerance” and “diversity” extend to regional newspapers but serve to stifle debate on important issues of public importance.
It’s sometimes hard to define the terms “liberal” and “conservative,” but the immigration controversy does serve to draw a sharp distinction between the two camps. Most liberals have favored more immigration, while most conservatives have been opposed. In the Cheever case, he was not taking a position himself, only letting a local resident write a column giving his opinion. This writer was opposed to the policy that has resulted in over a thousand Somalis settling in Lewiston, Maine. For approving the column and letting it run, Cheever was fired and told to clean out his desk the same day. He had been a long-time resident of Maine and had served the paper for years.
This case has been discussed in an Accuracy in Media, AIM, Report, but the major media have been silent about the outrageous treatment he has received. The case is even more newsworthy because the chairman of the papers, Frank Blethen, had been regarded as someone who took care of his own employees and was proud of his family-owned business. Blethen has argued that family-owned newspapers are closer to the people and unlike distant corporate owners who have no interest in pursuing controversial news. Cheever says the mantra at the paper was “Raise hell and sell newspapers.” But that cost Cheever his job.
Blethen, who is also publisher of the Seattle Times, has refused to explain or justify Cheever’s firing. But his sacking may have to do with some other speeches Blethen has made, in which he has praised the value of “diversity” in the workplace and society. This is a liberal code word for promoting the interests of minority groups at the expense of the majority of the people. In Maine, that meant accommodating the new Somali residents.
The column approved by Cheever had raised concern about the Somalis in Lewiston. It said, “Somalia is even now identified as a growing stronghold and training area for Islamic terrorists. Some in our government believe Osama bin Laden could be there now, rebuilding and reforming his worldwide terrorist network. How thoroughly were our Maine Somalis screened??Do we care?”
Ironically, this was in response to a column Cheever had written, in which he had advocated acceptance of the Somalis. Equally astonishing, Cheever says the controversial column was “in the system,” meaning it was set for publication and available for review by other newspaper editors, for five days. Many months later, Cheever tells us that he is still regarded by journalists in Maine as a “pariah” and he has not found another newspaper job.