Island Issues

Recent News Leaders Offer Poor Judgment, Shoddy Reporting And Editorial Nonsense

Recent News Leaders Offer Poor Judgment, Shoddy Reporting And Editorial Nonsense

Maybe if I keep at it News Leader Publisher Foy Maloy will buy me a laptop.

As you work your way through the dreary local bi-weekly News Leader newspaper occasionally something odd happens. You notice something. It can be informative, but usually it isn’t. More often than not it’s puzzling.

For example, last Friday’s, June 15 issue of the  News-Leader and this Wendesday’s June 20 issue were chock-a-block with head-scratchers making it difficult to know where to begin. Let’s start with last Friday’s “Voice of the People” letters to the editor and work forward.

The June 15 issue’s letters section contained a correspondence headlined “Beyond the pale” that’s an embarrassment to the newspaper, the writer, and his family. But not to the paper, which tried to justify his claptrap, or to Fernandina Beach Mayor Johnny “Moonbeam” Miller, who has offered to buy the unhinged writer a beer.

The letter was filled with so much irrational hatred, incivility, cursing, abuse and sanctimonious pomposity, it made the Antifa and Black Lives Matter hate groups sound like the Sisters of Charity. It also stirred up a hornets’ nest of social media controversy, with well over 125 comments on one local site alone, 90 percent of them condemning the hysterical, venomous writer. Followers also  hammered the paper for running the writer’s profane twaddle.

The author, Dennis Stipe, says he’s a 75-year-old Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach resident who hails from nearby St. Simons Island.

He spent the first half of  his churlish, adolescent, self-righteous rant heartily patting himself on the back telling readers that he’s a not only a registered Republican, but also an extremely successful, well educated, and very, very exceptional chap.

He says he was — and I’m not making any of this up — “….perhaps one of the best technicians the Navy ever had,” adding “I was first in my class in 90 percent of the Navy schools I attended.” He claims that during his 15 years of service he raced through the ranks from E1 to E8, in a promotional blaze that had he remained another five years would have, I’m certain, put him en route to the admiralty. He added that while in the Navy he ” …revolutionized the training curricula to focus on blah, blah, blah, blah.” He also said that he was a retired vice president of a 400-employee software company and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Navy Associates degree.

In addition he says: “He’s faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!”  Oh wait, he didn’t really say that … his modesty obviously restrained him.

His credentials firmly established, Mr. Stipe let loose a volley of vindictive slurs, contempt and hate that would make a leftist anti-American, grievance-monger’s jaw drop in admiration. He went from telling readers how magnificent he was in the work place, to his expletives being all over the place.

Writing about President Trump this self-proclaimed genius, Republican, and former sailor made it very clear that he doesn’t care for the current Commander-In-Chief saying: “I am extremely troubled with this horrible man in the White House and his cabinet, and equally the Senate and House.” He praised actor Robert De Niro’s recent profane attack on the President adding: “He is a beloved and admired Hollywood celebrity. His statement calling out F*** Trump struck the hearts of the audience including mine. I want to add the colliery is F*** the Republicans in the Senate and the House.”

He also made it clear that for such an accomplished guy, he has a poor grasp of the English language, confusing the word “colliery”(a coal mine and building equipment) with “corollary” (a statement that follows with little or no proof required from an already proven statement).

He went on to claim that he spent a collective two years underwater on a missile submarine “…..fully believing that I was protecting all of you Americans from the Soviets. And you have the audacity to support Trump and Russia.”

His call to action was: “I want my two years back. And I want all you Republicans to rot in hell for your support of that miserable traitor Trump.” Whew!

This may be the only guy I probably would never thank for his service. However, I am thankful that he’s no longer anywhere near submarine missiles or any other military weaponry.

It appears that during his two years underwater on submarines, Mr. Stripe may have suffered oxygen deprivation that caused serious neurological damage. What else would motivate this guy to launch such a vile, profane and vicious verbal attack? Was it hubris, delusion, naivete or something less abstruse, like alcohol? And why would the News Leader print such a disgraceful, profane screed unless they intentionally wanted to embarrass this nut job and his family or it endorses what he wrote? Its publication didn’t do anybody any good except me, providing generous fodder for this blog.

In its Wednesday, June 20 issue, the News Leader printed four letters that disagreed with their loopy letter writer and not one that agreed, apparently because there wasn’t one. It also ran a pathetic editorial justifying its decision to print Mr. Stipe’s letter, citing the guy’s “right to free speech” and saying: “If a letter full of outrage can spur debate discussion, etc.” , that’s a “good thing.” Not this letter though. It was incoherent, vile, profane and an embarrassment to everybody involved.  The editor should be apologizing for printing it, not rationalizing its publication.

But our mayor loved it.

Moonbeam Miller, the City Commission’s resident Inspector Clouseau, who has the attention span of a hummingbird, and is ignorant of any factual news predating the early episodes of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,”  posted on his personal Facebook page the above left  invitation, complete with grammatical error. Oh, the mayor also misspelled the name of our town where he serves as mayor describing himself as mayor of something called “Frenandina Government and Bartender at The Palace Saloon….” Makes you proud doesn’t it? I was booted off Moonbeam’s personal page long ago. These were sent to me by folks who continue to bite their tongues while reading Moonbeam’s infantile, irrational far left codswallop.

Mr. Stipe is more than welcome to comment here and I will not edit his remarks, except to censor any profanity. Perhaps Mayor Moonbeam, the News Leader editor,  or someone else in the asylum could loan him one of their crayons.


Read All About It…Oh, Wait, Never Mind: On the front page of the News Leader’s June 15  edition a reporter with the fortunate name of Julia Roberts, penned a piece headlined “Northeast Florida Democrats hope to shake things up this fall” that filled up half of that page, and half the back page, 10A.

An article about Democrats running for office  in heavily Republican districts is legitimate news. But as the old hamburger fast food commercial tagline once asked: “Where’s the beef?” As lengthy as the piece was it was skimpy on details. Ms. Roberts profiled three Democratic candidates in her rambling article that left readers with a lot of unanswered questions. Here’s a look at each of the candidates she interviewed.

Bilee Bussard, of Jacksonville tells Ms. Roberts she’s running for state senator in District 4 against Republican incumbent and Fernandina Beach resident Aaron Bean. Ms. Roberts reports that Ms. Bussard is a former business owner, but doesn’t mention what kind of business, and a former journalist, but doesn’t say where or with what media outlets. It did mention that she covered The Beatles once and on another occasion wrote a piece for Jacksonville’s liberal weekly tabloid Folio, blasting charter schools that the candidate claims foiled a Jacksonville mayor’s support of those institutions. But Ms. Roberts didn’t report when that was or which mayor. It also was not mentioned how Ms. Bussard currently spends her time. The candidate was quoted as saying “It’s my patriotic duty to go out there and stick my neck out. Whatever happens, happens.” It appears that her campaign platform needs as much fine tuning as Ms. Roberts’ reporting skills.

The second candidate, Nathcelly Rohrbaugh, of Fernandina Beach, tells Ms. Roberts he’s running for the District 11 Florida House of Representatives seat currently held by Republican Cord Byrd of Neptune Beach, and says he was inspired to do so because of the school shootings at south Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Ms. Roberts writes that gun control and Mr. Byrd’s A+ rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) are key issues in this guy’s campaign, but offered no further details.

In his interview Mr. Rohrbaugh says he’s concerned that communities in west Nassau County lack residents. “I don’t like the fact that so many rural areas are getting left behind because of the fact that there aren’t enough people there,” and then in the same sentence says that the west Nassau County towns of “Bryceville, Callahan, Hilliard — they’re full of Americans who want jobs….” He says he’s also concerned about climate change, the environment, and the economy providing no details or solutions.

Ms. Roberts adds that the prospective District 11 candidate has a “young face and a memorable name” but fails to say how he currently occupies his time other than mentioning that he “began writing political essays at a young age, but only recently under his own name.” She didn’t mention if any of his work has been published or where, what his pen name is, or if he’s employed. She did report that he’s lived here a “long time.”

She quotes him saying: “Since my name is Nathcelly Rohrbaugh and I’m Mexican-American I was a little afraid that  putting my ideas out there might bring negative attention to my family. I didn’t want anything to happen to me or my family so I wrote under a pen name for a while.”

He didn’t say who he feared might want to harm him or his family or what it was that he wrote that might put them in danger or where or if it was published. Obviously Ms. Roberts didn’t ask him. Nor did she ask him if there was anything in his campaign platform that might cause him to worry about his or his family’s safety.

This fellow says he “shares common ground with Republicans but claims that members of the GOP have alienated him with negative talk about Mexico. He didn’t describe any of the negative Mexico chatter that bothers him and Ms. Roberts didn’t bother to ask, not even which local taqueria he favors.

The third person profiled was Democrat Ges Selmont, an attorney from Ponte Vedra, who says he’s running for Republican U.S. Congressman John Rutherford’s District 4 seat. Roberts reports that Mr.  Selmont’s platform revolves around guns, hands-off social security, health care for everybody, all  tired and time-worn liberal canards. He also says he wants to educate the district’s diverse electorate, whatever that means.

Ms. Roberts didn’t say where Mr. Selmont practices law, what his specialty is, how long he’s been a resident of the district, where he went to school or if he has a family. In fact she didn’t cover any of that with the other two candidates either.

Nor did she ask any of the three Democratic candidates if they favor partial-birth abortion, consider it OK for the Jacksonville Jaguars to kneel during the national anthem, favor campus speech codes and gender quotas, stopping illegal aliens from crossing U.S. borders, ending the establishment of sanctuary cities, etc.  She didn’t even ask them about the controversial Florida Legislature’s House Bill 631, that addresses the right of the public to use the dry sand portion of the beaches in Florida. Surely NL readers would be interested in a candidate’s  opinions on this widely discussed, misunderstood and contentious local issue, that was featured in a front page story next to Ms. Roberts’ article.

With polls showing the American public’s steady approval of less regulations, restricting illegal aliens from entering the country, lower taxes, smaller government, a strong military, Social Security and Medicare reform, the right to bear arms and open carry laws, drilling for gas and oil, and more, these three Democrat candidates face a daunting challenge, particularly in a district that shows that only 23 percent favor Democrats.

If the three candidates are anything like they are portrayed by Ms. Roberts, readers would almost feel sorry for them, but not sympathetic enough to cast a vote for them this fall.

I’m sure the Republican candidates are hopeful that Ms. Roberts will continue to cover the progress of their Democrat opponents for the News Leader.


Speaking  Of Newspapers: The Jacksonville Business Journal reported this week that the newsroom at The Florida Times-Union announced this past Tuesday its intention to unionize. The group comprises reporters, photographers, copy editors and desk editors, about 35 to 40 people. The newsroom filed cards stating its intention to join The NewsGuild-CWA, a union that represents 25,000 journalists and other media workers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The Business Journal says the paper’s filings for union status comes after GateHouse Media bought it last August, then announced in December it would sell the paper’s building and layoff 60 folks including 10 newsroom employees. GateHouse owns a number of papers across the country and has gained a reputation for belt-tightening measures. If this paper lasts another two years I’ll be very surprised.


The Raging Bore: During my life I have at times needed a policeman, a fireman, a doctor, a teacher and experienced the need of the military to defend me and my fellow countrymen. But I have never once needed an actor nor asked one for assistance or an opinion, much less an autograph.

Robert De Niro’s recent vile and profane outburst– applauded by the above News-Leader’s nut-job letter writer — at a recent awards ceremony is an example of why they are irrelevant. And his Tony Award’s audience of actors and actresses’ cheering reaction to  his vulgar labeling of the United States President reinforces their insignificance to society.

My Tampa Plant High School classmate, friend, and writer for the American Spectator, Larry Thornberry, shares my attitude for these folks who play dress-up and make-believe for a living, writing the following succinct and well-done Spectator item last week:

“I  have nothing but respect for the craft of acting when it’s done well. But it’s a source of wonder to me that the opinions of actors, on subjects other than acting, should carry any more weight with us than those of your sheltered Aunt Eunice, or of anyone selected randomly out of the phone book. Alas, we do shower unearned attention on these folks and, too often, get annoying lectures, and worse, from them in return. The latest example being the crude and cretinous outburst Sunday by an aging fellow with a seedy beard whose only claim to our attention is his ability to play a gangster on the silver screen.

“How odd that we should lend any more credit to the untutored and uncivil Robert De Niro’s opinion of the current president than that we should linger over his views on the importance of a unified field theory. Previous public comments by De Niro that have reached me have demonstrated what Shakespeare might have called “a plentiful lack of wit.” The only things remarkable about our Bob’s 74 years on the planet are his ability to act like a thug before the cameras and to make a lot of money for doing so. A slick trick that many would consider a better dodge than legitimate work. But hardly the making of a full life, or a reason to consider this stiff an oracle. In fact, if someone stooped to making a movie of De Niro’s life, it could be called Raging Bore.”


Curious Minds Want To Know: Local car dealer and News Leader columnist (Keffer’s Corner), Rick Keffer, boasts in TV ads for his Yulee dealership: “I’ll save you a bunch or I’ll buy you lunch.” Has anyone ever met anyone that Mr. Keffer bought lunch for because he didn’t save them a bunch?  Just wondering.


Things I Wish I Had Written: “The great tragedy of George Carlin’s life was that he stopped being funny before he stopped performing comedy. The great tragedy of Samantha Bee’s life is she stopped before she started.” — Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, June 25, 2018.


Christine Harmon - 03. Jul, 2018 -

Your statement, “It appears that her campaign platform needs as much fine tuning as Ms. Roberts’ reporting skills.” Determining Ms. Robert’s skills cannot be determined by reading one article – just as a score on one history test does not allow a teacher to determine a student’s academic ability.
Re: The ball is in your court. Yes, I suggested forming a group of people with diverse opinions to look at and analyze positions on significant issues of our time. I was offering you the opportunity to participate. I thought/think you could bring another voice and perspective. I did not expect you to organize it. Not certain why such a group is “silly”. You are always welcome to stop by. If we do not meet your expectations, the door will not be locked. You are free to enter and exit.

Bart Bernuschka - 27. Jun, 2018 -

This is a lot of drivel.

Larry Thornberry - 23. Jun, 2018 -

Once a reporter, eh Dave? Good thing Fernandina has your blog, where you perform the journalistic service the Times Onion and the News Leader do not, either because they don’t want to or don’t know how to.

I’ve just read the self-satisfied Dennis Stipe’s letter in the News Leader. Mostly it’s a long, hagiographic resume with a short endorsement at the end of some of the crudest and most ignorant public comments in a year when there is stiff competition for this distinction. Clearly a case where the writer’s self-love has not gone unrequited. It would appear that Chief Stipe studied humility on a Howard Cosell scholarship. (Don, did I mention I went to Yale?)

And speaking of the chief business, I’m also 75 and a Navy veteran. It’s hard for me to fathom why anyone with more than 15 years in the Navy (or any other military service) would not finish the remaining four-plus to get that monthly retirement check for life. Especially a guy who was, by his own testimony, best in show in just about everything he did in the Navy. This curiosity is the only particular Stipe left out of his exhaustive and exhausting bio.

As for Robert De Nero being “loved and admired,” speak for yourself Chief. I guess there’s just no accounting for taste. To suggest that Donald Trump has his flaws is on the order of saying that Niagara Falls, from some angles, appears to be a bit large. But, using Sipe’s words, if there is a “horrible man” in this fable, it’s Robert De Nero, not President Trump. i would suggest that Chief, let’s make that Mr., Sipe has way too much time on his hands, and is not getting enough fiber in his diet.

Charles Mullen - 23. Jun, 2018 -

I enjoyed the blog, Dave.

Jan - 23. Jun, 2018 -

Very well done!!!

David L Waldo - 22. Jun, 2018 -

Another great column Dave!

Mary R - 22. Jun, 2018 -

Right on Chuck! That’s not the only way Rick Keiffer has bought lunch for hundreds of people! He is an untiring philanthropist who is always in the center of raising funds for a wide variety of local causes. Thank you Rick! I’ll buy you lunch one Wednesday!

Christine Harmon - 22. Jun, 2018 -

Cheap shot on Julia Roberts, Dave! Totally unbecoming, and lacking in analysis and consideration of her work over time. But, if your idol is Russ Limbaugh, kudos! BTW, you haven’t responded to my proposal we form at “Socrates” group. This would be a discussion group comprised of people with different opinions who would bring data/positions on issues for analysis. Personally, I hope we will find common ground – not continue to divide our nation with inflammatory rhetoric . The ball is in your court.

David Scott - 22. Jun, 2018 -

Geez Louise, Christine, it’s hard to know where to start with you. But let’s address the “cheap shot” first. Based on your comment any criticism of this article should be based on material this reporter has produced in the past, a suggestion I don’t understand. Please explain why my comments on this specific article should take into considerations the writer’s prior reporting. Did she do a similar article I missed? And lacking in analysis? Really? I thought I did a good job analyzing her efforts. Tell me what I omitted. Also point out any mention of Rush Limbaugh in my commentary. This may be the first time I’ve ever mentioned Mr. Limbaugh in any comments. And as far a the “Socrates” discussion group goes, that was all your idea, not mine. Saying the ball is in my court is silly. If you want form such a group have at it. I may drop in as an observer, not expecting much, and such a group will probably exceed my expectations.

Vince Cavallo - 22. Jun, 2018 -

The question that normally shuts up critics from some inane commentary is: exactly what program has he begun or law he has proposed upon which you base your commentary and what alternatives do you believe are better. The recent North Korea meeting is a good example. The anti Trump crowd said he gave them stature by just having a meeting. To me it seemed solely based on Trump proposing it. Trump noted a country with nukes and missiles already has “stature”. (To dismiss them as an annoyance is similar to Chamberlain agreeing to let Hitler move forward unimpeded. ) Trump also said he knows it may not work out but the chance to avoid war makes it the best choice. What we have since Trump’s election and demonstrated by the letter to editor under discussion is political commentary has gone from verbal partisan discourse on issues to personal attacks to a degree not seen since probably 1860. If political commentary does not return to discussions on the issues from today’s hyper incendiary, emotional, and threatening verbiage, our nation could be mortally wounded.

Tony Crawford - 22. Jun, 2018 -

Dave, for once and I hope the only time it ever happens, I have to agree with you on the Beyond to Pale article. It was a bit self centered to say the least. With respect to De Niro speaking out, it was inappropriate for him to do it at that event. I will say that our own President, at more occasions that this page would hold, has done the very same thing if not worse. Both these men are wrong.
You mentioned Mr Rohrbaugh, I would suggest you set up a meeting with him, talk to him and learn what he stands for. I think we are at a point where we have to look past the blue and red and start to look at the person running. Mr Rohrbaugh is an intelligent man who wants to work and improve situations that effect us all. Don’t judge him, or any other candidate by their party affiliation.

David Scott - 22. Jun, 2018 -

Tony, where did I judge Mr. Rohrbaugh? I only repeated what the reporter wrote and implied that she failed to flesh out the candidate and his platform as she left out a lot of information. I buy the paper for information. Based on your line of thinking, Tony, if I order a burger with fries and it comes without the fires I should go into the kitchen and cook my own.

Bobby Mo - 22. Jun, 2018 -

Well done, Dave.
Adding your sense of humor to the truth, actually makes the truth much “louder”, to say the least. Keep up the good work.

#1 Area Economist - 22. Jun, 2018 -

I’ve never understood Mr. Keffer’s value proposition. “If I do not trim thousands of dollars off the price of a vehicle I sell you so that you will buy it from me and not someone else, I will give you a $5 voucher for Chik-fil-A across the street.” Gee thanks, mister. I know I would feel rightly consoled in that situation and would estimate that I had gotten a square deal, all things considered. I wonder if Chik-fil-A could be enticed to offer a reciprocal arrangement. You’ll enjoy your food or we’ll buy you a car, dude. Enjoy your meal or we’ll enact this poorly thought-out deal. Love this Chik or go see Rick.

chuck hall - 22. Jun, 2018 -

Yes, Dave….. Rick Keffer has been a solid supporter of the Sounds on Centre concerts for years! In this way he has ‘bought lunch’ for thousands of folk here hungry for free entertainment.
We are very happy to have his sponsorship.
Call me Dave and I’ll take you and Rick to lunch!

David Scott - 22. Jun, 2018 -

Chuck, I know very well that Mr. Keffer is a solid citizen and a financial supporter of many local civic and charitable organizations. I did not imply otherwise. I just questioned his car dealership’s advertising tagline. If just one of those folks that attend the Sounds on Centre events buys a car from Mr. Keffer then he has more than realized a pay back on his good works. And if he didn’t “save ’em a bunch” I’m sure he bought ’em lunch. Your luncheon offer is more than generous and if Mr. Keffer joined us I’m sure it would make an interesting article.