Reader Sounds Off On Debate Backlash
Editor’s note: The following letter was directly addressed to Maureen Walthers, publisher of the Times Newsweekly/Ridgewood Times. Dear Ms. Walthers:
I am responding to your published comments in the New York Post regarding the planned non-appearance of David Weprin at a debate scheduled for this evening.
While I am also disappointed that Mr. Weprin chose to cancel, and for doing so for reasons that may be questionable to us, I am perhaps even more disturbed by your comments.
To call Mr. Weprin a “coward” and a “worm”, as the Post reports you as having said, undermines any journalistic independence, credibility or neutrality that you might otherwise have had in hosting such a debate.
If Mr. Weprin were to free up his schedule this evening, would you— could you—be a neutral host, and would your staff be uninfluenced by your own apparent political bent in reporting on it? I fear not.
I'm deeply disappointed and concerned. Should a newspaper not only fly the flag of a political opinion, but be so in-the-gutter personal about it? Calling someone a “coward” is bad, but a “worm”? Seriously!
Perhaps you should reconsider your position. Decency, fair play and ethics would call for an apology. Otherwise, undecided voters like myself can only discount everything that comes from your paper as politically motivated. And we have had enough disreputable politicians in this area from Seminerio, Vito Lopez, Ognibene, Dennis Gallagher and Serf Maltese.
Surely you would not want to be a member of this crowd, would you?
Publisher’s note: The “non-appearance” of David Weprin for the debate that was scheduled for Monday evening and co-sponsored by this newspaper and the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) appeared to be very planned indeed.
For two weeks, both myself and Robert Holden of the JPCA had a host of phone conversations with Weprin’s staff members over their requests to change the format of the debiggest bate.
First, according to his staff, he didn’t want a debate, only a “candidates’ night” forum where he could speak his peace and leave. Then the staff wanted to know in advance all the questions being put forth by the panel. If we would not accommodate his requests, Weprin would not participate.
Both Holden and myself seemed to have finally worked out the problems with Weprin’s staff prior to Hurricane Irene. After the storm, one of our reporters was informed by a Weprin staff member that the candidate would not be appearing at Monday’s scheduled debate.
At no time did Weprin speak directly to either myself or Holden; rather, he let his staff do the talking. To me, that smacks of a rather “wormy” position. Throughout this episode, we questioned why the staff was trying to shield Weprin from his constitutents, but never received a straight answer from the campaign.
As a seasoned politico who has served in many various offices, it was amazing that he would not welcome the opportunity to debate with a relative newcomer to the political arena.
Weprin, in my opinion, chose to disassociate himself from the voters of this community, using a storm as his excuse. That’s a personal insult to the large voting and interested audience who were looking forward to the debate. In my book, it also demonstrates cowardice on his part.
For our 103 years in business, it has been a policy of this paper never to back or sponsor a candidate, so we called off the debate after Weprin’s staff informed us he would “not be available for the debate on Monday or anytime in the future.” Had his opponent, Robert Turner, held court on his own at our debate Monday, it would have appeared that we were favoring one candidate over another.
Despite my opinion of Weprin’s absence from the debate, this paper will not support any candidate in the Ninth Congressional District special election—or in any other political contest in the future, as per our longstanding policy.
And, as a point of information, Weprin was endorsed by Assemblyman Vito Lopez, whom Mr. Schorn described as “disreputable.”
Maureen Walthers, publisher
Letters from readers are invited and should be sent by regular mail to Times Newsweekly, P.O. Box 860299, Ridgewood, N.Y. 11386- 0299 or by e-mail to info@times newsweekly.com. All letters must be accompanied by the writer’s full name and address, which will be withheld upon request. Anonymous letters will not be considered for publication. All letters are subject to editing. The opinions expressed in each letter are not necessarily those of the Times Newsweekly.
Post new comment