I know many people on this forum refuse to read "the rag" or "bobo's paper" or whatever the latest reference to the Observer is these days, but I find it endlessly interesting, in a watching-a-train-crash sort of way. While some people on this board aren't interested in discussing this, and want to just insult/ignore him, I think it's worthy of discussion. Not much in here will be "new news" for regular readers here, but I'm hoping that it enlightens some folks who haven't yet seen the light. People like the young woman who sat in front of me at Thursday's meeting and said "You know, I used to not be able to wait until that paper came out, and then I realized the truth and now it drives me crazy."
Slager actually uses a fairly impressive set of media tactics to present his story, not unlike how Fox News gave comfort to the Bush administration and now attacks the Obama administration. Let's take a look at how he's doing it. Please note a couple of things:
1. While I respect and appreciate everybody's feedback, I'm hoping to keep this conversation to constructive comments only. I respectfully ask that, if you wish to vent your anger, you do it in another thread on this site.
2. The Observer is, realistically, a blog. While there is a paper format, I'm going to focus primarily on the website here, as that's what's updated more frequently, and where all of my source information comes from. But if we look at it objectively, it's one guy (maybe 2 if we can confirm the existence of Paul Shooter) who updates a website and doesn't follow some standard journalism ethics. That makes it a blog. Therefore, I'm going to use "post" instead of "article" when talking about his site.
Changing the story without acknowledging being wrong, or noting an update.
Leading up to Thursday night's meeting, Slager had dubbed the meeting a "recall rally" multiple times. In his Ending the Civil War in Wareham post, he stated "It is a recall rally, plain and simple, one held in a public building that was paid for by your tax dollars (the advertisement for this event was placed on the Wareham Recall 2009 web site weeks before it was placed in the Standard-Times and the Courier)" I'm going to ignore for now the factual inaccuracy of his statement about the ad being on the Wareham Recall website - it simply wasn't, and Brady isn't affiliated with that group, nor does he agree with their plan. He also states "The Observer has been predicting this recall attempt for more than a year. The only reason it has taken this long is because the power elite arrogantly assumed they could put us out of business first" and "Next Thursday night the line will be drawn. The recall crew will try to keep the good people of Wareham from having a say in their own future" and "The CBW is knee-deep in this recall effort" and "The group shouldn’t be trying to hide in the shadows, pretending it doesn’t want a recall". There are probably more references, but as interesting as this is to me, I don't have time to Google for all of them.
Now, what happened on Friday, the day after the meeting? We went from 33 references to the word "recall" on his site down to 9 - 2 of these were in a poll question, 2 are accusations that the S-T is lobbying for a recall, 1 is in a Jeer, and only 4 are relevant to his accusations of the meeting being some sort of "recall rally" No reference that he was wrong, no apology as Mr. Brady requested for misinforming the public, nothing. It just sort of disappeared. This is a classic tactic used by those that want to control the flow of information - by not admitting he was wrong or issuing a retraction, readers will go on assuming that the information was correct, even though Mr. Slager knows that it's not.
There are many other examples of his changing posts on the site sometimes within minutes of the post first appearing on the site. I documented here a week or so ago an example where one of his posts had been updated 8 times in the same day. The "Stop Changing the Subject" post has already had two sections updated. Nowhere in this does he follow the standard journalistic practice of noting that the information has been updated. There has been one post over the past month or so that he noted was updated, but only marked one of the many updates, and didn't denote what had changed.
Misleading use of polls and contact information
Wikipedia says that selection bias "is a distortion of evidence or data that arises from the way that the data are collected. It is sometimes referred to as the selection effect. The term "selection bias" most often refers to the distortion of a statistical analysis, due to the method of collecting samples. If the selection bias is not taken into account then any conclusions drawn may be wrong." (emphasis added). The polls on his site are accessible only to registered members. The population of registered members is going to be very strongly weighted towards being supportive of the BOS and Mr. Slager himself. Very few people on "the other side" are going to pay to be registered, therefore very few people are going to vote against the Slager agenda in the polls.
Similarly, he quoted in today's post that he "had 237 e-mails and 84 phone messages. Not a single person complained about “race-baiting.”" The problem with this statement is that nobody who disagrees with Slager will email or call him to discuss it, due to the history there. Those people will post here, or on the Standard-Times boards, or in other areas. While we have no evidence of the quantity/quality of the emails and phone messages, and many people here will doubt his numbers, it is not surprising at all that nobody contacted him in opposition.
Slager's presentation of this type of information as being representative of the population at large is misleading at best, and a flat-out lie at worst.
Extensive quoting of himself in his posts
This has been discussed in great detail on here in relation to "Paul Shooter", but the fact that numerous posts were made with no author attributed that quoted himself extensively is fishy at best. Retroactively adding "Paul Shooter" to the byline after being called out repeatedly on this board is even worse. But worst of all is breaking the patterns that he had with other 'correspondents' and 'employees' by not introducing Mr. Shooter. There is no evidence that Mr. Shooter exists, and even less that he actually wrote the columns quoting Slager. Any credibility that he might have had goes down the tubes by having a 'phantom' author.
Making himself the news
The Twitter poster 'takebackwareham' noted that Slager's post about Thursday's meeting included 864 words about Slager's "defiance" of the media ban, and only 168 about the meeting itself. What was the real story from Thursday? According to everything that he had written up to Thursday, it was the meeting and the CBW's attempt to launch a recall effort. How come that wasn't the focus of the article on Friday? Whether it's his ego, a distraction tactic, or something else, Mr. Slager felt that the story had to be about him, rather than the meeting itself. There are numerous other examples in the past about him insterting himself into the stories, but I don't have access to go back that far.
The second, more important, fact that I have not yet seen reported was Slager's perspective on the possibility of getting arrested. After Thursday's meeting, he hung out in the hallway for about 10 minutes, talking to attendees. To his credit, he took more than a little bit of crap from attendees, and did not get angry about it. However, immediately before leaving he told another attendee "You know, I'm not sure I would have minded if I got arrested...it might've been a good thing" I know this for a fact, as I was standing approximately 8 feet away by the food tables while he was against the wall to the outside. This statement is very telling - makes it clear that he would've been completely ok if the story turned into his arrest, as opposed to the meeting itself - another attempt to change the subject (described further below).
If you repeat it enough, it must be true
Slager has a bunch of terms that he uses repeatedly across multiple posts, with the idea of drilling it into people's minds. These include:
*Power Elite - One would think that this would refer to a group of folks who are in power in the town, but it apparently refers to a group who are politically opposed to those currently in power. I don't know enough about the group to comment about the "elite", but the group he's referring to his most definitely not in power.
*Brady being able to "dictate" attendees - Slager is obviously trying to get people to associate Mr. Brady with a dictatorship, going so far as to say that "(a)ll they want is a dictatorship" in today's post.
*This site is "controversial"/"hatebloggers" - Nobody has called this site controversial except for Mr. Slager and his followers. There are a few posters here who, in my opinion, push the insults/comedy too far, but the vast majority of the people here are just angry at the situation, and view Mr. Slager as nothing more than a mouthpiece for the people who have gotten us into it. By using terms like "hateblogger" and "fake Wareham Observer site", Mr. Slager is attempting to discredit everything stated on here, no matter what the basis of the comments are.
*The S-T/Courier give Slager no respect - It seems obvious that the two papers in question view Mr. Slager as I stated above - as a blogger. With the majority of his writing being opinion-based, these papers don't have much of a reason to respond to, or even acknowledge, him....so they don't. By repeating these charges, though, Slager is able to substantiate his "control of information" accusations, and give some merit to them (at least among the people who share his viewpoints)
This is just a small part of a larger list of terms/concepts that he repeats, under the idea that it will turn the ideas into facts after enough repetitions. How many people thought there were WMD's in Iraq before/during/after the invasion? This is the same tactic.
Changing the Subject
I wasn't going to include this as a separate topic, but as it's the headline of his post today, I felt I had to. Nowhere in his post about changing the subject does he say what the subject was, what it now is, or who changed it. I'll break down his individual statements later, but he states that the meeting was "supposed to be a defining moment for the power elite". Reading the invitation on this site, the meeting was supposed to be an opportunity for Mr. Brady to present his view of what's wrong with Wareham's leadership, and for others to air their concerns as well. This is exactly what happened. However, with Slager framing it as having been aimed at being the be-all and end-all of political rallies (which was never the goal), he can then claim that it was a failure because it didn't meet those standards. When framed accurately, as having been a forum to air concerns about leadership, the meeting was a rousing success.
Presentation of Opinion as fact
Historically, Mr. Slager has failed to separate his Opinion posts, which have been very common over the past several months, from his News posts. He would probably claim that the fact that there is small text saying "In This Corner" denotes an opinion column, but he really should be clearer about the differentiation, preferably putting all of the opinion posts on one page, and all of the news posts on a completely separate page. This way there would be no chance of a reader coming across his opinion, and thinking it was fact.
Overstatement of claims
The strongest example of this is when he claimed to have "uncovered" that Mr. Brady was the one running the meeting last Thursday, because he had a record of the rental agreement from the hall. I'm not sure how this was "uncovered", when the meeting itself was first announced on this message board in a post from the user 'bbrady' who, it is commonly known, is Mr. Bob Brady. I thought it was fairly obvious who was planning the meeting right from the get-go.
Accusations of restrictions of the flow of information
The Interim Town Administrator (ITA) recently issued a policy that any information going to the press from town employees had to go through him after the police chief wrote a letter to the editor supporting one of his men. Bob Brady, who holds no position in town government, spent his own money to rent out a hall so he could have a specific discussion with certain people, and rightfully claimed that he had the right to restrict attendance. Which of these sounds to you like control of information? If you thought it was the ITA, you and Mr. Slager would be in disagreement. Mr. Slager has continually referred back to the fact that the meeting was in the school, a public building, but selectively did not mention that Mr. Brady paid to rent out the hall for the duration of the meeting.
Selective non-inclusion of facts
From today's post about the community meeting: "After 20 tense minutes, Brady announced to the audience that the police would not enter the auditorium." What he doesn't state here is that Brady announced that the police had the right and the authority to remove the uninvited people, but would not do so because it would create more of a scene than it was worth. Inclusion of all of the facts leaves the reader with a very, very different understanding of the situation. Slager's story is "we fought the law, and we won and got to stay." The real situation is "Legally, we had no right to be there and the police could have removed us, but they didn't want to turn us into martyrs, so they took no action" Which of these stories better supports Slager's agenda?
There were other things that I wanted to include here (including those listed below), but I'm running out of time. I'm going to post what I have so far, and write about the following items (and maybe some others) later on.
Sarcastic use of "quotes" around "things"
Inclusion of facts that have no bearing on current situation, but attempting to draw a line
A breakdown of some of his statements from today's post
"Changing the story without acknowledging being wrong, or noting an update." I went to see him thurs july 30 in the am. I demanded a retraction in a letter I gave him of a paragraph he wrote in the online paper and gave him the facts.. He changed the story an hour or so later no retraction and in his change still didnt put in the fact s he again made assumptions..
I just wrote an interesting response to his latest nonsense, give it a look! I wrote it under my new journalistic pen name :) Rip Dinkle. I know I am not a formally trained writer, but I dare say that I will make far less changes to my editorial than "someone" else will. Thanks for the good work Casual!
Good work here Larry. Exposing ragboy as anything but a journalist is important. You are reading it for that purpose which, although I am advocating that no one read it, it seems that it needs to be done.
Your above analysis is why THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD indeed. So many people have been injured by his illiterate third grade grammar written drivel. Just my opinion, of course.
Thank you, acasualobserver.
Very informative and well written.
I appreciate it.
Bobo "recruited" Paul Shooter because he was tired of the jokes about him interviewing himself. Now I'm guessing he would like to go back to the jokes about him interviewing himself. Too late, Bobo.
God Bless Paul Shooter!
Alright, some comments about specific lines from today's post. Note that I just loaded the page at about 4:40 PM, so there may be some changes to the article by the time you read this. Specific lines from the article, and responses/reality are below:
There’s an old adage in politic that says when things are starting to turn against you, simply change the subject. That is exactly what has happened after Bob Brady’s primal scream therapy session went south in a hurry last Thursday night.
So what was the old subject, and what's the new subject? As far as I can tell, the old subject was "we want to discuss the issues that we have with the current town leadership" and the new subject is "we discussed the issues that we have with the current town leadership, and now we need to figure out what we want to do about it" I also don't understand how things are "starting to turn against" Brady and others. The current BOS crew has been in for a couple of years, and people are finally starting to speak out about it. Seems to me like the swing is going the other way. Finally, what the hell is a "primal scream session"? Mr. Brady said repeatedly that it was going to be a respectful discussion, and it was. There was no screaming involved, and there was nothing "primal" about it. This is propaganda, and nothing more, and Slager knows that. Later in the article, Slager claims the meeting "went down in flames" and this is the subject change. The only thing bad about the meeting was that it didn't meet the expectations that Slager artificially set for it. It's obvious that if the meeting filled the auditorium, he would have found another reason to say that the meeting was a failure.
It was supposed to be a defining moment for the power elite
I'll ignore the "power elite" part of that because, as I previously explained, it's crap. However, it was never designed to be a "defining moment" - it was supposed to be a discussion of issues facing the town, and that's what it was.
But after one audience member was shouted down when he suggested the selectmen have the opportunity to speak
Nobody was "shouted down". See the comments above about the respectful tone of the meeting. Many audience members were upset that the people who were asked not to be there chose not to respect that request, and wanted to keep the meeting what it was - a presentation of concerns with the current administration. The BOS has plenty of opportunity to respond but Thursday was not that opportunity, nor was it ever intended to be.
This was simply a feeble attempt at a political rally,
No it wasn't. This is another of Slager's tactics to make those he opposes look bad. He states what things were "supposed" to be, then reports that what actually happened didn't line up with what it was supposed to be. It was an attempt to disseminate information to people who were unhappy with the town's direction. That's what the invitation said, that's what Brady said in the meeting, and that's what it was. Another example of Slager being disingenuous.
A third of those appeared to be supporters of Wareham’s current administration. Another third looked like they were there simply out of curiosity. A handful of residents voiced legitimate concerns about the direction of the town. The rest were there simply to further their personal agendas.
This is just crap. Did he interview everybody? Three-quarters of the room was in a standing ovation when Mr. Holmes called Slager out for race-baiting....not exactly in alignment with the numbers that he puts forth.
Despite the thousands of dollars Brady spent in advertising buying favorable coverage from other newspapers, he could muster less than 100 people to his “cause.
(a) Slager has no idea how much money was spent - this is absolutely made up. (b) Slager has gone from saying that the Courier "joined" him in condemning the media ban to now implying that the Courier is in Brady's pocket because he took out an ad. (c) Despite the town moderator and Slager teaming up to try to create a racially-charged protest out of thin air, not a single protester was at the meeting. (d) Numerous reports have stated that many town employees wanted to attend and air their griefs, but were afraid to do so because of the presence of the Observer and the BOS.
After 20 tense minutes, Brady announced to the audience that the police would not enter the auditorium.
As stated above, Brady actually announced that they *could* enter, but didn't want to cause a scene, b/c that's exactly what the Observer wanted.
There were no disruptions, as Brady so desperately claimed there would be. Oh, several residents in the audience tried to create a scene
This is patently false. The presence of the BOS and the media (specifically the Observer) was a distraction in and of itself. They didn't need to say or do anything more than be there in order to be disruptive, and Slager knows this.
For all his chest-thumping leading up to the meeting, all Brady accomplished was to show that that some people in Wareham will never blink in the face of fascism.
This is the most important line in the whole article - the people who will never blink are the ones who were there Thursday discussing their concerns with the BOS. Borrowing from Wikipedia, Fascists assert themselves by picking on the weak, try to squash dissent, and want to create a single-party state. The current leadership fits this mold as evidenced by how they picked on the woman who has been trying to get her road recognized (and how the Observer picked on the witness to the Coleman arrest), attempted to limit dissent by intimidating citizens through their presence at the Brady meeting, and are obviously pushing for a single point of control in the form of a mayor. If anybody fits the Fascist mold here, it's the current leadership/observer combination.
Suddenly it was the Observer’s fault the meeting went down in flames because we had engaged in “race-baiting” leading up to it.
Not a single person said that the meeting was not a success because of the race-baiting. This is completely 100% made up by Slager. However, the Observer and the Moderator *did* engage in race baiting. Why hasn't the Observer reported about the email that Donahue sent out trying to build up a protest?
They even tried to pull the selectmen into their nonsense, claiming the board should have demanded an apology from the Observer.
Well, yeah - they should have. How come there's no reference in here to the fact that the vast majority of the auditorium rose in standing ovation when Mr. Holmes called on the Observer to apologize? More selective non-inclusion of facts
A Cape Vedean couple came to my office last week furious that Brady might not let them attend. They hadn’t read my column. They don’t even own a computer.
Someone else on the board has already said this, but if they don't own a computer, how'd they make the ad? If they didn't make it, who did? For all of the mud that Slager has slung at Brady for not putting his name on the ads for the meeting, how come he's now adamant about protecting the "couple" that placed this ad? To borrow one of Mr. Slager's lines, the hypocrisy would be funny if it wasn't so sad.
Interestingly, the Standard-Times won’t print any letters to the editor from me, nor will they allow me to post comments under stories on their web site, even when their stories shamelessly attack the Observer.
Maybe because the letters and the posts are complete and utter crap, and they know it? I'm guessing that newspapers don't print every letter they get, especially those that are obviously biased and factually incorrect, as most of Mr. Slager's blog posts are.
While I risked arrest for standing up for the First Amendment (putting my family trip to Disney World in jeopardy)
(a) See above for the quote about Slager not minding if he got arrested. (b) the disney trip has no bearing on anything, and is a blatant attempt for Slager to try to draw up some sympathy to his side. Again, it would be funny, if only it wasn't so sad.
Now the recall crowd is out in force, trying to pressure our distributors from carrying this week’s Observer.
There is no "recall crowd" - this is another example of repeating something until it's true, and perpetuating things he knows are false. funny, if only it wasn't sad.
They want as few people as possible to read this column. They desperately want to control the flow of information in Wareham.
They want as few people as possible to read the column because it's full of inaccuracies and lies. The 'control' they are looking for is separating the wheat from the chaff, and the Observer falls into the 'chaff' category. The people from the meeting on Thursday want to shine the light on the truth, and the Observer does nothing but throw shadows.
All they want is a dictatorship.
This from the man who's supporting the folks that want to move the form of government to a 1-person system instead of the town meeting system. Geez...I don't even know what to say here.
More analysis coming later. I'm sick of reading his lies and not having any response to it.
Edited to reference Coleman instead of Wallace
Last edited by acasualobserver (2009-08-05 19:18:09)
This is, by far, the best analysis of the crap spewed at the Wareham Pravda I have every seen! We need a standing Ovation for Casual!!!!!
One note, he meant the Coleman arrest...not Wallace.
good call commonsense...I was typing too quickly. Will go and edit now. Thanks! Thanks for the feedback Larry - if people like it and get something out of it, I'll continue doing it in the future
Ever notice how none of the other major papers write anything close to what you find in the rag? Slager would like everyone to think he's more on top of the news than anybody else out there. That he has the courage to print the truth. But actually, the truth of the matter is, professionals base their news on verifiable facts and are held accountable for what they write. The townspeople need to realize he's a tabloid writer and nothing more.
Just one example I'd like to use is the Coleman case. It was covered in the Standard Times, the Wareham Courier, The Harold, The Boston Channel.com and who knows where else. Look at how this case was covered and compare it with Slager's coverage. Pathetic!
Casual, please continue. This is informative and useful. I found it all interesting.
SLAGER IS A LOSER, HE ALWAYS RESPONDS TO EVERYTHING HE READS IN THIS BLOG BUT WHEN HE CREATES A FICTIONAL WRITER TO INTERVIEW HIM IN COLUMNS BECAUSE IT WAS FREAKIN WEIRD AND WE CALL HIM ON IT. HE SAYS NOTHING. ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING! PAUL SHOOTER , WHERE IS HIS PHOTO? WHERE IS YOUR UPDATED PHOTO BOB?
People, just to reiterate...Paul Shooter is a half-vampire who uses a cloaking device, and thus his image does not appear in mirrors nor can it be picked up by any photographic reproductions.
In the off chance you do catch a slight glimpse of him, he usually throws down one of those flashy smoke bombs that Batman uses. When the smoke clears, Paul Shooter is nowhere to be found.
Why didn't you all think of that instead of just assuming Bobo is lying because we haven't seen Paul Shooter's photo yet?
Casual, That's some very good dissecting. In fact, I think readers of other newspapers would enjoy your assessments of the Ragman's "tactics" (or whatever they are). I think it would ecourage more readers to seek the whole story and not just the toilet tissue version. Actually, it makes great puppy training paper.
Casual - this is an excellent piece. I would love to see a set of numbered rules pointing out the ethical grey areas the ragman uses so that we could easily refer to them when talking about his posts, i.e.:
#1 - Extensive Quoting of Himself
#2 - Misleading Polls
#3 - Making Himself the News
Etc. then we could have a wiki of all the rules for easy reference.
Breakdown of the "Boycott the boycott" post is below. Billw, I don't want to overrun the main board with these comments, but on the same hand feel that they're important, especially for new readers to the site. What are your thoughts on what would be new-thread-worthy, and what should continue in here?
Anyways, onto the show. By my count, the boycott post uses repetition, updates without notification, misrepresentation of facts, tugging at heartstrings (new category).
Repetition - use of "power elite" to describe his travails
Updates without notification - I count 4 updates to the post since it was made last night. The most egregious of these was the change from "pressure...of the boycott" to "pressure, harassment, and intimidation...of the boycott". Accusations of harassment and intimidation are serious business, and i would just loooooooove to hear the evidence behind these charges.
Misrepresentation of facts - The double standard that Slager is imposing.....would be funny if it wasn't so sad. Is he going to boycott every establishment that doesn't sell his documents? As I stated yesterday, there's nothing "fascist" about customers telling a business the truth behind the products that they're selling. In my opinion, The Observer is a harmful product, not unlike a lead-laced toy. It's harmful to the community, harmful to the citizens, and harmful to the town as a whole. And there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with informing a business that they sell a harmful product, and informing them that you'd love to give them your business, but can't support distributors of harmful products.
"these people have absolutely no right to tell you what you are allowed to read" - Nobody told anybody what they were allowed to read. Nobody is attempting to take down the website. Quite simply, a group of individuals informed a business that they would not be frequenting that business while they were selling the Observer. This is a blatant untruth about the situation, and Slager should be ashamed of himself for resorting to this.
"Stand up against this kind of censorship" - If anything, the market exercised their rights to free speech by declining to participate in the distribution of the publication. Again, it's NOT censorship - the most accessible form of the Observer is the website. Unfortunately for Slager, there's no revenue coming from the website. It's pretty obvious to me that this isn't about control of information, but it's about control of revenue. Slager is afraid that if this takes hold, his only remaining revenue stream will dry up.
Tugging at heartstrings - A "newspaper" should not be attempting to play to the emotions of its readers. By trying to present this boycott as an evil doing, and saying "if you support this paper, then...", he jumps pretty far across this line. It's almost like a spouse saying "if you really loved me, you would (rub my feet/go to the game/leave me alone)".
Edited to fix formatting
Last edited by acasualobserver (2009-08-06 09:29:59)