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Sunday, April 08, 2018

Still butt hurt, after all these years

After four years of avoiding West Virginia politics, I decided to re-engage. I started WV Feed, a newsletter on the state's politics. Sign up by emailing -- but only if you are interested in the state's politics.

Today I reviewed Phil Kabler of the Gazette's weekly column.

"An independent press is not a threat," said the headline.

I agree. When are we going to get a press that is independent? Certainly, not in my state in my lifetime.

Kabler took a perfunctory shot at President Trump and his mutually assured destructive relationship with the press. (If the Secret Service hired a taste tester, he could attend the correspondents dinner this year.)

Next Kabler took a shot at Governor Justice.

Then Kabler got to what was really bugging him, events from 30 years ago.

"Govs. Moore and Cecil Underwood, in the days before social media and the 24-hour news cycle, would frequently schedule announcements in the morning so they would be published first in the afternoon Daily Mail, a source of both amusement and consternation for Gazette reporters and editors," Kabler wrote.

And Governors Rockefeller and Caperton did the same favors for the Gazette.

I remember in 1986, the Gazette's Fanny Seiler wanted the aviation records from Moore, and Jack Deutsch of the Daily Mail wanted something or other from Darrell McGraw, then the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Moore gave Richard Grimes of the Daily Mail the stuff Seiler wanted, and McGraw gave the stuff Deutsch wanted to Kabler.

On the same day.

A day later it was Halloween and since I lived in Charleston at the time (very briefly) I took the kids to Kay Michael's house in the East End. I told her I took the kids trick-or-treating at McGraw's house next to the Capitol, but he gave their candy to a reporter from the Gazette.

Politicians play favorites.

That is the way the game is played when you have two papers in town, and no wall between the editorial pages and news coverage.

The news got out, and if you are an independent press you shouldn't let it bother you.

By the way Seiler ran possibly the best statehouse column in the land. Every Sunday she gave readers a gossip column with substance. She got a little dirt on everyone. She ran the rumors down. She reported them straight. She worked her fanny off and became the most feared journalist in the state. She didn't do that by whining that the governor didn't return a call.

First thing Daily Mail statehouse reporters did after church on Sunday was read her column, find some buried treasure, and work it into a play story on Monday. Seiler got what she wanted. The Daily Mail got what it wanted. And the public was better informed.

Seiler retired. The Daily Mail is gone. And the whining will never end.


  1. The closest thing we have to an independent press is bloggers working for free on the internet. As soon as money gets involved the press is no longer independent.

    When you take money to write, you dance to the tune of whoever is paying you. Or you get fired. If you are the owner you still have to answer to advertisers and subscribers.

    1. That's true at the moment, but Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others are hard at work finding ways of "factchecking" information.

      Soon we'll find that there isn't any unbiased source to be found anywhere, because anything conservative won't pass the "factcheck" gatekeepers, whether it's factual or not.

      Other than government regulation (a cure worse than the disease,) or breaking up these mammoth monopolies, what can be done about this threat to our free speech?

  2. Butt hurt is putting it mildly. Arch Moore was something else. A politician. A force to be reckoned with. An American soldier who had his face shot up in the Battle of the Bulge. No matter what else he did, I gotta respect that. I always liked him. Hs daughter is doing a fair job as U.S. Senator, but she doesn't seem to have the charisma and the savoir faire Arch had. - Elric

  3. Hillary Clinton took sniper fire in Bosnia; John Kerry won the Silver Star; John McCain is a war hero; and Mueller and Lee Harvey Oswald were Marines.

    All of the aforementioned served our country in one way or another. It doesn't mean they served, or are still serving, it well.

  4. Who can forget Arch Moore's bumper sticker when he ran against Rocky? "Make him spend it all, Arch!" Best slogan until "MAGA."

  5. Not clandestine, and no need for patience. But the White House and the Pentagon are both saying it wasn't us.

  6. I live in a one-paper town. Used to be two, but way before my time. Stopped subscribing 8 years ago