It saddens me that my first signed contribution to The Paper must be so blunt on such an alarming topic as the unprecedented and escalating volume of vitriolic, personal attacks being made by the Ailespaper.
Their primary purpose is not even the false and gratuitous smears themselves. Just as one line of attack is factually discredited, even weirder ones are dragged out to distract us from its publisher’s rejection of the attempt by the Chamber of Commerce to rebuild our sense of common purpose by electing her a Business Person of the Year.
That the Ailespaper presents its latest attacks as an unsigned “satire” of the straightforward, fact-based Q-and-A published in this newspaper does not make its smears, distortions and outright lies any more acceptable or supportable. Hatred doesn’t work well as satire, and this one’s only humor is clearly unintentional, like the howler that Philipstown.info and The Paper actually oppose competition!
Fortunately the rest of their awkward “Commentary,” including far-out stuff about The Elephant Man whose off-Broadway production moved to Broadway with my exact same cast, sloppy characterizations of other things I’ve been up to, and a bizarre mix from complaints about my commitment to free speech (as if this weren’t what I’m exercising right now) to illusions about my finances (No, I’m not rich but I don’t fund anything here with other people’s money) to odd fantasies about my height (I’m under 6 feet tall), are all more easily clarified or refuted entirely than last week’s left-field frothing from a Fox pit bull about my role in a famous speech.
And at least for once the Ailesmedia didn’t double down on their coordinated but poorly fact-checked smoke-scream about the so-called “malaise” speech. Instead they settled for simply dismissing the historical evidence, challenging scholarly works for the first time, ignoring the contradicting testimony of their only neutral witness, and writing this week’s attempt at satire that insults the lame.
Good news first. By now most of us realize that facts have the same effect on Fox News and the Ailespaper that garlic does on the undead. The bad news is local smears can be countered by personal contacts and become last week’s news, but stuff put on the Internet by Fox never goes away. How would most people feel when their child asks if smears about them on Google are true?
So the Ailesmedia’s attacks cannot be laughed away as lightly as their merits deserve. Nor are we facing a situation where simply calling on “both sides to cut it out” is either right or likely to work. The truth is that ugly speech, refusal to print responses or other views, and the smoke of rage is not coming from 69 Main St.
There is a simple way forward for all. Since the Ailespaper has so far refused to ask for or print their subject’s views and report them accurately — I will gladly come to the Ailespaper’s premises to answer on the record any questions and address any concerns its owners and editors may have. This will spare them the trouble of dreaming up new lines of personal attacks, me from having to demolish them, and all of us from the kind of violent rhetoric no one wants to see remain here.
I can meet almost any day next week, or the week after. Of course we will have some questions of our own. But that should pose no problem. Philipstown.info and The Paper will print whatever is discussed with civility and respect for others and for the facts.
—Gordon Stewart, Publisher, and a Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year