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Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Opinion Richard Connor: Controversy? Disagreement? That’s what we do!

Richard Connor: Controversy? Disagreement? That’s what we do!

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We love it when we hear the refrain, “No one reads newspapers anymore.”

Well, they read ours, both in print and online. By the way, we have a newly-designed website that automatically adapts to mobile devices for ease of reading.

Another by the way: Our largest group of readers online and with mobile falls within the age group of 25 to 32. And that debunks the myth about young people – millennials – not reading news and opinion.

Here’s the vivid proof of readership and reaction.

My column from last week questioning the hiring by President-elect Donald Trump of Steve Bannon as his chief White House strategist brought letters and emails of outrage and advice.

Two close friends upbraided me.

We found the disagreement delightful and even humorous among editors.

A news organization wants to stir thought, engagement, discourse and debate. This is particularly true with opinion pieces and editorials. Those are venues for us to take a stand.”

They invite debate.

News stories should strive for a level of fairness and balance. We work hard at this and sometimes fail. But there is a difference between opinion and what we call “straight news.” We recognize that it’s difficult for the public to understand the fine line between the two.

Either way, we do not shy from controversy.

That’s why many of us in the business pause this time of year to be thankful for the First Amendment and a free press. And just two days before Thanksgiving Trump told editors at The New York Times that reporters need not fear his defense of a free press, which makes us hopeful if still skeptical.

The same goes for Bannon.

There is a spirited piece of journalism by someone named Wolf Howling posted Nov. 16 on the Bookwormroom.com website. The story reflects positively on Bannon and particularly sets out to debunk reports of anti-Semitism. You can read the piece, headlined “Is Steve Bannon Proof Of Evil Anti-Semitism At The Heart Of Donald Trump’s Inner Circle?” at http://www.bookwormroom.com/2016/11/16/steve-bannon-proof-evil-anti-semitism-heart-donald-trumps-inner-circle/

However, Mother Jones reported on Nov. 22 that Trump is confused about Bannon’s affiliation with what is called the “alt right:”

“During today’s meeting with the Times, Trump also claimed that his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, is not affiliated with the alt-right. ‘If I thought he was racist or alt-right or any of the things, the terms we could use, I wouldn’t even think about hiring him,’ Trump said.

“ ‘We are the platform for the alt-right,’ Bannon told Mother Jones at the Republican National Convention in July. Breitbart News had by then published a guide to the alt-right in which the pundit Milo Yiannopoulos said the movement opposes ‘full integration’of racial groups: ‘The alt-right believe that some degree of separation between peoples is necessary for a culture to be preserved.’ The piece cited Richard Spencer – who this weekend held a conference marked by Nazi salutes and anti-Semitic comments – as ‘a center of alt-right thought.’

“Later in Trump’s meeting with the Times, he was asked to comment on Spencer’s conference. ‘I condemn them,’ Trump said. ‘I disavow and I condemn.’ He also specifically disavowed the alt-right.”

The holiday season is a great time of year, one of hope and blessings and good cheer. I offer you the previous as a gift of some balance on all this and hope we continue to hear from our readers, vigorous in their views.

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at rconnor@bizpress.net

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