Letter: No more PCNR at Go-Go Pops

Dear Editor:

This morning I accepted our regular delivery of 10 Putnam County News and Recorder issues to sell in our shop. It is the fourth week in a row that I opened this “newspaper” and found not news, not factual reporting about events in our town, but articles designed to demean, deride and destroy the character of people in our community whose company I enjoy and views I respect. Gordon Stewart, publisher of The Paper, our other local news source, appears to be the primary subject of these attacks, though certainly not the only one.

Elizabeth Ailes, the PCNR’s publisher, has set about to smear Gordon Stewart’s character for what she vaguely claims as attacks on her and her family, though what those alleged attacks are remain a mystery. Mrs. Ailes appears to be fond of calling people liars and any assertion, no matter how small, seems to set off her “mendacity radar” to such an extent that it necessitates public declamation. She has published articles for the past four weeks that claim in great detail that Mr. Stewart had no involvement in writing former President Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech given over 30 years ago. It’s hard for an ordinary person like me to imagine why the authorship of this speech is such an issue for her when any educated person knows that presidential speeches are collaborative efforts by numerous writers and strategists.

How does the authorship of a 34-year-old speech have any current relevance to those of us in Philipstown? What objective is Mrs. Ailes aiming to achieve by continuously calling Mr. Stewart a liar when any superficial research reveals her claims to be spurious at best? One can imagine that she is desperate to undermine her local competitor at any cost. Alternatively, she may have taken petty offense at being given a shared honor with Mr. Stewart by the Chamber of Commerce, thus explaining the false report on last week’s front page about Mr. Tamagna, the Chamber President.

The type of journalism practiced by the PCNR has a poisonous effect on our community. This publication confuses facts with opinion and fosters discord among citizens with differing viewpoints. It sensationalizes every disagreement regarding law and public policy when civil conflict and debate is the method by which effective governance is managed. It casts our public servants in an overly negative light when they struggle with the devilish details on issues that affect our lives now and in the future. In the name of free speech it threatens the free speech of our local population by instilling fear of retribution if one opposes the perspective it represents.

For these reasons, and others too many to list here, we have returned all current PCNR issues and the Area Guide to the publisher. We will no longer sell the PCNR in Go-Go Pops. Greg and I work hard to make our business a happy environment that offers only wholesome and sustainable products. In good conscience we can no longer sell a product we deem to be poisonous to our customers.

Yours sincerely,

Lynn Miller
Proprietor, Go-Go Pops

23 thoughts on “Letter: No more PCNR at Go-Go Pops

  1. Lynn and Greg, I applaud you standing up for what you believe to be right. You have chosen not to be complicit in supporting a business you do not believe in. I admire the stand you have taken and hope others will follow suit.

  2. Yeah, Lynn. If PCNR cannot report the truth, it’s unwelcome. You have our business.

  3. I tried as long as I could to support anything good I could find in the PCN&R, but they’ve built such a long enemies’ list that we have ended our subscription and are done with the peevish and inaccurate attacks of this paper.

    There were many last straws: their over-the-top defamation of Gordon, of course, but also of Betsy Pugh, and I finally couldn’t stomach the ongoing vitriol against the diplomatic, knowledgeable and dedicated Matt Francisco, Kathleen Foley, and Stephanie Hawkins. The PCN&R have been especially critical of public servants whose hard work I appreciate the most.

    Thank you for writing this, Lynn. Your bravery is an example to all of us, and we are standing with you. We’ll be bringing our son to Go-Gos for an after school Tuesday cocoa and coffee toast to Lynn and Greg. We invite like-minded supporters to join us.

    • Also cancelled our subscription for all the reasons you put forth so well. Thank you for this letter.

  4. Go-Go Pops has just created a special new coffee blend called “Oasis of Civility” to reflect what Greg and Lynn aspire to provide. It’s described as “robust and strong, with a sweet finish,” which is just what we need in our community. It’s priced similarly to other coffees, but anyone who chooses to do so is welcome to add a little extra to help support Go-Go Pops. Please stop by to greet Greg and Lynn, try a pound of Oasis of Civility coffee and help spread the word.

  5. Go Go Pops is truly a happy environment. I am always greeted there with smiles and warmth, and will visit even more frequently to show my support.

    • Jonathan, in my experience, there isn’t much point in sending letters such as Lynn’s to The PCNR, as The PCNR doesn’t print those that are at odds with its editorial stance. I have personally sent two letters to The PCNR, both polite and factual, seeking to correct significant misstatements. Neither of my letters was published. The first of these letters concerned The PCNR’s editorial on Veteran’s Day of 2010, of which I was the (unnamed) target. I was depicted in The PCNR’s editorial as anti-military and ungrateful for and ignorant of the sacrifices made by the military for my freedom. I am in fact the daughter of three generations of military officers, one of whom died in theater (WWI), and I was deeply offended by The PCNR’s mischaracterization of me and my views. My letter responding to that editorial received no acknowledgement at all, even though The PCNR’s stated policy at the time was to publish all letters received. My second, more recent, letter cited the readily-ascertainable facts about allegations made in The PCNR about Gordon Stewart. The response I received stated that they would not publish my letter and then went on to make various additional, equally negative and equally unsubstantiated, allegations about Mr. Stewart. At the end of the day, my experience has been that trying to get The PCNR’s staff to acknowledge error or to air views that don’t coincide with their own is, at best, an exercise in futility.

  6. The poisonous bile unleashed from week to week by the editor and staff of the PCN&R will not be stopped until all advertising on its pages ceases. That will happen when a large number of citizens of Philipstown commit to boycott any business choosing to advertise with PCN&R. As its readership shrinks, of course, there will be less reason to present. It shouldn’t take much effort, given the growing ranks of those who despise this operation, to dissuade our community businesses from paying for space in this paper. Let the boycott begin!

    • Actually, I can think of one Main Street business that decided neither to advertise in nor to carry the PCNR a long time ago because of its unwarranted attacks on the food pantry at the Presbyterian Church.

  7. I stand for free speech in our community and everywhere. However, it is not only freedom to communicate your ideas; it also implies the freedom of others to listen to and read all of those ideas; whether or not they agree is a moot point. I come from a part of the world when at one time not having it (free speech), made me appreciate and recognize its intrinsic value while tasting it freely flowing here in the USA. I say, initiatives to limit or silence dissimilar views and opinions are inexcusable and not part of the DNA of a genuine democratic process, here in Philipstown or anyplace

    • I like free speech too, but this is about free markets. Neither free speech nor freedom of the press compels me to read a particular newspaper. And neither of those freedoms compels Go Go Pops to sell the PCNR. You and I decide to pay for the PCNR or not based on an economic calculation. Is it worth our money and time to read it? Does it add value or subtract? If the PCNR is losing its audience, advertisers and vendors, it should improve its product. That’s the American thing to do.

      • Clearly, the PCNR is not in business to make money. It is now a vanity press, operated solely for the purpose of self-promotion of its owners, using textbook yellow journalism techniques to manipulate or cow its audience into agreeing that anyone who doesn’t share the personal beliefs and agenda of the publishers is un-American, portraying public officials, employees, and teachers as incompetent or malicious leaches, and vilifying public institutions as the root of all of our social and financial problems. They obviously don’t care what it costs, as long as their agenda is promoted. They can afford to ignore the economic realities most of us would face while running that business. And I have no doubt that if they decide that their effort isn’t worth the cost, they’ll simply close the paper. They certainly will never admit fault (as the editors, they conveniently have the last word on all discussions), and they certainly can afford to do as they please with the PCNR. And, yes, that is indeed their right. But, in my opinion, it’s not “right.” It’s a damn shame, and it’s extremely harmful to our community.

    • Bravo, Mr. Salcedo for having the courage to voice what is undoubtedly a very unpopular opinion hereabouts. Up till now I was reluctant to say anything about the ongoing Battle of the Titans, because I like and enjoy both publications immensely. However, I can no longer remain silent when certain residents of the community feel so threatened by freedom of expression and/or are so intolerant of opposing political viewpoints that they are advocating boycotts and other actions against the PCNR in the vain hope of presumably shutting down that venerable newspaper.

      Hard to believe that it’s come to this in such a supposedly enlightened community. Equally hard to believe is Ms. Miller’s statement “In the name of free speech it (the PCNR?) threatens the free speech of our local population by instilling fear of retribution if one opposes the perspective it represents.” The only threats I have seen are coming from Lynn Miller and her followers; in fact, to the best of my knowledge, I do not believe that Mr. Stewart himself has gone so far as to advocate the extinction of the Recorder.

      For what it’s worth, I freely admit that I am a great admirer of both Mr. and Mrs Ailes and the PCNR. That being said, I also give Gordon Stewart a tremendous amount of credit for starting the Philipstown paper and putting his money where his mouth is. He too has made an investment in this community and while I may not agree with him politically, I applaud the work that he’s doing with the paper both in print and online and the many articles published about local events and government. It really does make a huge difference when government officials know they are being watched by their constituents.

      I also think the most important contribution to public discourse however, are all of the many comments that are published in this online forum. I just love that there are so many divergent viewpoints in such a small geographic area including many that I often disagree with. Several times I’ve written things that I thought might be considered “politically incorrect” and figured they would never get published, then I was pleasantly surprised when they showed up in the comments.

      I’m also happy to say that I’ve often responded to articles and remarks that really got me riled up and again was glad for a chance to express my own strong opinions on the subject.

      It’s been said “if we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, then we don’t believe in it at all.” Let that be a lesson for all of us.

      I live in Putnam Valley where today there is little or no coverage of local events and governmental wrong-doing, except for the occasional piece in the PCNR for which I am eternally grateful. As a direct result of this virtual news blackout, we have an out-of-control supervisor who runs things with an iron hand, a town board that is totally unaccountable and which spends money like there’s no tomorrow.

      • Ms. Villanova’s letter generates an absurdist image in my mind, of David shooting a rubber band at Goliath’s aircraft carrier. Let’s remember for a moment that the Ailes have at their disposal the resources of News Corp., the second largest media group in the history of creation.

        I read and re-read Lynn Miller’s (full disclosure: Lynn is my wife and business partner) letter and found no threats. Nor did I find any statement advocating “the extinction of the Recorder.” We own a small business and are citizens of Cold Spring. I am pretty sure we get to decide what we sell in our own store. I am also pretty sure that, as citizens protected by the First Amendment, we may express the reasons for those decisions. If I am wrong, then we’ve all got bigger things to worry about.

        We decided not to carry the PCN&R. That was an action, not a threat. Lynn publicly stated the reasons for that action. People are free to agree or not, publicly or not.

        Lastly, I am sure everyone in this town agrees with Mr. Salcedo’s position on free speech. Thankfully, rare though it may be, some publications still embrace the old-fashioned journalistic ethic of using the op-ed section to publish opposing viewpoints rather than advocating a single one while denying equal space to the dissenters.

  8. If, as Ms. Anderson claims, “The PCNR doesn’t print those [letters] that are at odds with its editorial stance,” then that publication is not serving the ideals of Freedom of Speech in our community, and it should not benefit from the privileges this society affords journalists. I too came from a Banana Republic where those owning the media decided whose opinion is worth printing and whose is not. I find that to be a fundamental obstacle to free discourse. If PCNR has indeed omitted printing opposing opinions- even a one, then that is good enough grounds to question them like Lynn is doing.

    • I have twice written letters to the PCNR and had the Editor refuse to print them because I questioned the journalism of the publication. Both were civil, lacked any inflammatory language, and addressed specific instances of what I viewed as journalistic failure to accurately cover specific events.

      The first time this happened, PCNR Editor Doug Cunningham called me and explained that they would be printing a correction to their story, and, as such, would I be willing to accept them not printing my letter? I chose to give him the benefit of the doubt, and agreed. When the correction appeared, it was nowhere near the Letters to the Editor page, and was buried among ads. I learned my lesson.

      The next time I wrote a letter in which I suggested the paper do a better job of reporting events, Cunningham didn’t call. I instead got a curt email explaining that it was the right of the PCNR not to print letters that questioned its journalism. At that point, I exercised my right to stop buying the PCNR.

      • Let’s say it is their right to “not to print letters that question [their] journalism.” Why shouldn’t it be? The paper is fairly bought and paid for. But why can’t they say so? Can’t they have a short disclaimer saying something like, “We only print what we agree with”?

  9. I just read a very good letter in the PCNR, but I guess you will not be reading the letter because you all canceled your subscriptions.

    • Cheryl, I read the same letter. It made a very good point at the end – one that I have been thinking about while observing all this back and forth.

      John Kerry made a great observation in his farewell speech to the Senate in January:

      “My friends, the persistent shouting match of the perpetual campaign, one that takes place in parallel universes thanks to our polarized, self-selecting media, makes it harder and harder to build consensus among people. The people don’t know what to believe. So in many ways it encourages an oversimplification of problems that too often retreat to slogans, not ideas for real solutions.”

      Without jumping into the fracas on “who started it” (or what the “it” is in this case as I don’t think this is truly about an old speech or a chamber award) or what constitutes free speech and free markets, my worry is similar to Secretary Kerry’s: Those that choose to seal themselves off in bubbles of news and opinion (and relationships and businesses) that simply confirm their own worldview are missing an opportunity to broaden their perspectives and understand different points of view. It’s bad enough that our society does this on the national level, is it really necessary to perpetuate this at a local level?

      I’m happy to admit I read both this website and the PCNR each week. I see the editorial position/voice in both for what it is (and, yes, both have their own distinct editorial voices that inevitably bleeds into coverage of issues). I draw my own conclusions on what is reported (or in some cases not reported) in each. I don’t feel the need to “pick a side” or call for a boycott or choose where I shop based on which “side” the proprietor supports. A long winded way of asking the publishers to please settle this among themselves and for the rest of us to stop feeding it. We’re way too small of a community for this.

      P.S. – It goes without saying that I’m also a happy Go-Go Pops customer and that doesn’t change based on whether or not Lynn chooses to sell the paper there.

  10. I have one question to ask: why can’t we all just get along? Life is short and why have all this aggravation. The world just sucks and it trickles down to our local level. I just guess that the meteor is the next best thing for our planet, but that will be here in a very long time. So, let’s just get along. The press should be reporting on the facts and not instigating problems and making people crazy. Just my view on all this chaos in our local hub of the universe.