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NJ Spotlight Seeks To Silence A Critic – Orwell Lives

No light on highly questionable practices

NJ Spotlight has blocked my comments:

Error posting comment: user has been blocked

I learned that today after attempting to comment on their story:

I am the most consistent, prolific, and critical commenter on NJ Spotlight stories, and have been so since NJ Spotlight was created. My comments, while often harsh, are always fact based and often are based on my expertise or DEP regulatory experiences.

Over the years, more than once, Tom Johnson and Spotlight editors have sent emails and made phone calls to threaten a ban, alleging that my comments were either ad hominem personal attacks or otherwise inappropriate.

The ban is almost certainly in retaliation for my Monday highly critical Wolfenotes post on the Spotlight sponsored Delaware River.

In that post, I called out NJ Spotlight for questionable or unethical journalistic practices and potential funder bias, suggesting that major funders like the Dodge and Wm. Penn Foundations are buying coverage in an effort to shape and control the policy agenda:

The event was sponsored by, among others, the Wm. Penn Foundation.

Wm. Penn also funds NJ Spotlight, at least one of the groups on the event panel, and on top of all that, Wm. Penn funds a major $35 million grant program in the Delaware River watershed.

The world’s largest toxic corporate polluter, Dupont, also funds a Delaware Estuary program – with the Orwellian title “Clear Into The Future” – and a group mentioned in the NJ Spotlight coverage.  Of course, Dupont does not fund science and regulation to hold them accountable for the toxic pollution of the river and bay.

NJ DEP also funds one of the groups on the NJ Spotlight panel (in Barnegat Bay, on stormwater et al, and in Delaware Bay).

There are so many conflicts of interest and ethical challenges it is hard to know where to begin.

Of course, none of all that was mentioned in the event coverage by Spotlight.

I believe Spotlight readers should be aware of the facts I disclosed in that post and my opinion of the implications of those facts. I stand by that criticism.

It is a sad day when the State’s only journalistic outlet that focuses on public policy bans a well informed expert critic.

That kind of move is redolent of tactics from Orwell’s classic “1984” and the phrase “down the memory hole”:

As Orwell wrote: 

In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written messages, to the left, a larger one for newspapers; and in the side wall, within easy reach of Winston’s arm, a large oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.

In the view of NJ Spotlight editors, my opinions are just down the memory hole.

BTW, the comments I tried to post on today’s Spotlight story are as follows:

In addition to the attempt to avoid restrictions on the use of funds that would be imposed under the proposed constitutional amendment, the proposed DEP settlements also share the same flaws as the controversial Exxon pennies on the $8 billion+ giveaway.

The DEP still is limited by the same flaws that the Attorney General found created “litigation risk”.

The DEP’s “litigation risk” was discussed at length in Judge Hogan’s opinion. Basically, DEP failed to adopt regulations regarding NRD valuation and enforcement.

And recall that the media failed to report that Judge Hogan was former Chief Legal Counselor to DEP Commissioner Bob Shinn during the “open for business” Whitman administration.  In that role, Hogan was aggressively anti-regulatory and anti-enforcement.

Hogan’s background as an anti-regulatory, pro-business DEP ideologue is extremely relevant to his role in the Exxon case.

Shine a Spotlight on that!

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