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Richard H. Carson, MPA, Damascus City Manager

As the city manager of the newly reborn city of Damascus, I have faced a lot of challenges. Some were to be expected. The is the anti-government group who killed the city of Damascus in the first place. They, or at this point he, are working hard to kill it again. I understand that. Then there is Clackamas County. They are also working hard to stop the city from becoming functional. For them it about money in the form of tax base. Then there was Senator Shemia Fagan’s use of her legislative power to help a city in her district over one that is not. In her case, it’s about power and the need to pander to voters. With politicians the equation is always about doing anything to stay in power.

So, I understand why the kill Damascus groups do what they do. It’s all about money and power. But what I can’t understand is what is happening with the press. These days, the press is rated as low as politicians because many media outlets have lost their professional compass and started playing politics. CNN is the case study in a mainstream media outlet that lost their credibility by joining others like MSNBC and CBS in their Trump bashing. The public has always allowed that publisher opinion is reserved for the editorial page. But reporters are not allowed this privilege.

So, I have been perplexed by the behavior of Oregon’s only statewide newspaper in its coverage of the city’s rebirth. Notice my use of the word “rebirth.” As the city manager and an advocate for the city, I can be expected to use positive words like “rebirth”, “reborn” and even “resurrected.” Personally, I like these words because they have Biblical connections to the reborn apostle Paul, the “rock of the church” who literally found Jesus in the other city of Damascus. It is after all our namesake.

The problem I have is that an Oregonian reporter is using words like “zombie,” and the reporter’s newspaper allows it. I come from a long line of writer. My grandfather was published writer. I have written articles for over 100 national and regional print outlets. My daughter has a degree in journalism from OSU. And newspaper reporters don’t use pejorative terms about their subjects and newspapers don’t allow it.

So, I have to wonder why. It’s not about power or money. What motivates a report and a major newspaper to stray from the accepted norms of ethical journalism? Why is the Oregonian pushing to kill of a city in Oregon? Why is the Oregonian on the side of a Tea Party driven, anti-government and anti-land use planning group? Especially, when this group is targeting the very soul of Oregon’s Statewide Land Use Planning Goals tool – the comprehensive plan.

Where is the expected liberal media bias? At this point, all I can give you are theories. Maybe even conspiracy theories. For example, maybe the new mayor of Damascus ran over the reporter’s dog at the Sparky’s Pizza. Perhaps her ex-husband was a city employee. But all kidding aside, perhaps there is something more sinister at play. I think that The Oregonian is an oddity in today’s anti-Trump, liberal media bias. The Oregonian has a conservative bias.

The Media Bias folks says so. The very liberal Willamette Week observed that in “recent years been at odds with Portland’s liberal orthodoxy.” By recent years, they are referring to the years that Erik Luekens’ libertarian, anti-government bias had sway. One Portland city councilor said that “We’re not going to be bullied by some sorry Orange County right-wing publisher.”

I wrote a letter to the editor about it. Never saw it despite the editor saying she would run it. I assume she will run it after the Governor signs the Damascus death warrant – Senate Bill 226. I have contacted The Oregonian chief editor about this issue and asked to sit down and talk about it. Fat chance.

So that’s my theory and I am sticking to it.

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect The Northwest Connection)




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