AS THE PRESS SPINS
The Miami Herald proves it is a slander sheet again
Political hack writer Marc Caputo reiterates the defamation of Rick Scott
on the front page as if it were news.
October 20, 2010
Miami Beach Florida
BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
The Miami Herald has proved once again what a slander sheet it is by way of its persistent defamation of the character of gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott. Unfortunately for them, its credulous readers have been lulled into the habit of believing that its scurrilous journalists tell nothing but the truth and the whole truth. Therefore they believe that Rick Scott is, above all, a shifty-eyed, smirking and shrugging crook who criminally defrauded Medicare and patients of hundreds of millions of dollars.
That does not mean that deceived newspaper readers will not vote for Mr. Scott: a reader said to me yesterday, “Hey, they’re all crooks, but Rick had the guts and smarts to change his industry for the better even if he ripped off the feds, and that’s what we need in Florida, someone who can really change things and bring home the bacon instead of sitting around on his ass all day talking about innovation.”
We shall soon see that, if we turned to a more reliable news source, that Mr. Scott may not be a crook at all; quite to the contrary, he might be a man of high integrity and achievement that a liberal would vote for if it were not for his typical cost-cutting meanness, that of businessmen interested in the bottom line instead of economic justice.
I myself was a credulous Miami Herald reader. The Miami Herald knows how to milk its market although it is nigh on to impossible for it to turn a profit and deliver real, quality news. People who are afraid of the way things are going are more disposed to turn to the news for confirmation. I was predisposed to believe almost everything I read in the rag, especially the muckraking series.
What’s not to like about attacks on the most hated institutions? Of course the filthy rich people behind them are to be suspected if not hated to begin with, even though we may emulate them out of our love power and money; and their lawyers are to be despised as well. It is more convenient to blame and hate their faceless institutions for whatever goes wrong. There are the big corporations, particularly investment banks, insurance companies and health care companies. And naturally government is to blame for not curbing the corruption if not advancing it.
But I had forgotten to hate the newspaper chains or big media, particularly the Miami Herald, the “watchdog” that represents the so-called fourth branch of government in a city that is struggling so hard to be a “world-class” or cosmopolitan metropolis. That is, until I made a fool of myself repeating the award-winning lies the scurrilous journalists had written about the Allen Stanford fraud.
The Herald did the country a service by outlining the relationships of powerful attorneys and politicians that Allen Stanford thrived on. But the newspaper scoundrels proceeded to defame the state government and a man of exemplary public service, Arthur M. Simon, who happened to be the Director of Florida’s Banking Division who signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Stanford Trust, defining permissible activities of its representative office in Florida. No such agreement for a representative office was required by law, for a merely representative office was not subject to banking or trust company regulations. The definitions were long-standing, informally stated principles handed down by federal banking authorities as guidelines for out-of-state bank and trust company representative offices. After the scandal broke, the guidelines stated in the Memorandum of Agreement were embodied in legislation, legislation that the duplicitous paper, after calling the principles illegal, wanted to take credit for.
An effective way of defaming someone in the public eye is to repeatedly advance a derogatory claim about his character onto the front page. The allegation may be refuted once therein, but if the defamation is repeated time and time again the public will tend to believe the worst. That is, if I were to say that the executive editor of the Miami Herald is not a corrupt man, eventually people would forget the “not” and remember the word ‘corrupt’ when his name is mentioned. That practice is SOP at the Miami Herald.
The newspaper’s campaign to defame Dr. Simon and the Banking Division, instead of looking to the federal securities regulators responsible for responding to complaints from individuals and states alleging possible securities fraud, was to state over and over again, usually on the front page of the shameful rag, that Mr. Simon had signed an illegal agreement over the repeated objections of the state’s chief banking lawyer, permitting Allen Stanford to defraud people of hundreds of millions of dollars and to send the loot offshore without any money laundering or fraud checks. The newspaper recruited its favorite legal “experts” in support of its lies. And downright lies they were, as anyone can see who examines the public documents the hack mudslingers had available to them and gives Arthur M. Simon an opportunity to respond to the scurrilous claims. Faced with the truth, which the scandal-mongering journalists must have known all along, the award-winning libel was not retracted; no corrections were made, no apologies were given; nary a response one way or the other was made. Alas, Dr. Simon, who lectures on government at the University of Miami, espouses free speech to such an extent that he, although his reputation was harmed by the fabrication of the lies designed to destroy his good reputation, is reluctant to sue the paper for libel.
We see a similar sort of malicious conduct in the Miami Herald’s verbal flogging of Rick Scott, except this time, being leery of being sued for libel again – defeated candidate Jeff Green has sued the rag – the editors have tried to strictly confine their writers to stating facts along a string that goes to the same defamatory conclusion anyway. To wit; a very narrow set of facts from which it is easy to jump to the conclusion that Mr. Scott is a criminal who got away with his crime by taking the Fifth Amendment in a deposition given by lawyers out to get him, a lawyer himself. The Herald adopted that narrow set of facts from the repeated character smears televised by the campaign of his opponent, Alex Sink. The newspaper’s television affiliate has been raking in bushels of dollars smearing Mr. Scott, especially in the commercial midst of news broadcasts. Ms. Sink’s campaigns uses actors from law enforcement and the judiciary to state that Mr. Scott is untrustworthy and to imply that he is a crook.
Now that is perhaps permissible albeit reprehensible conduct in political advertisements even if the implications to be obviously drawn are false. But if the editors want to call a politician a crook in the newspaper, and if they have no evidence that the person was investigated and charged with a crime, their mere opinion should be made on the editorial page and not the front page.
Mr. Scott, by the way, was not investigated, charged, or convicted of a crime, to the best of my knowledge. What the lawyer did do was avoid answering the questions of other lawyers out to get him and/or the business he once headed. That is not a crime. He was not even held in contempt of court for avoiding the fishing expositions. But now the Miami Herald has taken the facts underlying the character smears advanced by his opponent and repeated them over and over, in a front page article. The underlying proposition, the conclusion baked into the political advertisements and editorializing posing as front page news, is simple: Mr. Scott is a crook.
For instance, a political hack writer whose byline is Marc Caputo was called in to write a front-page article published 19 October 2010 entitled ‘Straight talk gets fuzzy under oath.” The lead paragraphs present the candidate as a hypocrite, liar and shifty character: “Rick Scott the candidate promises voters ‘the unvarnished truth.’ But Rick Scott the witness offers little but murky testimony. In a series of sworn depositions he gave in lawsuits against his former hospital company, Scott appears to be the polar opposite of the straight-talking Republican candidate for governor in his television ads. Under oath, Scott displays a poor memory and a penchant for parsing words. He answers a lawyer’s questions with questions. Smirking or shrugging his shoulders, his darting eyes survey the room….”
Thus does Mr. Caputo’s novelette proceed, with conclusion implicit in its preface. Perhaps Mr. Scott while in Texas copied his Republican smirk from George Bush, Jr. Why, President Clinton parsed words, and wondered what is is, and he perjured himself rather than avoid the scandalous question, so what is the political problem here? Mr. Caputo, if he were honest, would not purse words nor pretend to be an objective journalist, but would give his conclusion up front as, “Look, Rick Scott is a crook.”
When Mr. Caputo’s conduct was protested, he vainly refused to read the protest because the last letter of his first name was spelled with a “k” instead of a “c”, and because the subject line of the email used the old phrase given to rags devoted to such scurrilous scandalizing: “slander sheet.” You must use the word ‘libel’ for written defamation when writing informally to him, and not the common parlance, and you must spell his first name correctly, or he will not bother to read your criticism. But he did see the word “slander” in your subject line: “Subject: Has the Miami Herald become another slander sheet?” Therefore, to diminish your utter stupidity, he will stoop to say this:
“Accurately quoting a candidate's numerous depositions isn't slander. If the story were: 1) Inaccurate 2) Truly damaging to a private individual 3) Malicious, then it would be "libel," since it was printed. But, alas, your bias blinds you to facts, for the story is 1) Accurate 2) Concerns the actions of a public figure 3) Recounts news, and not opinion. Incidentally, I stopped reading after you misspelled my name. Two errors right out of the gate is a poor way to begin a correspondence.”
And this newspaper nag who will lose the race no matter how fast he comes out of the gate will not bother to read your response to his criticism. And he will send your response to his answer to his criticism back in one minute flat with the dismissive ‘courtesy’: “The story was accurate, fair and newsworthy. Thank you for reading and writing. Have a good day.”
As a matter of fact, his story was one-sided, unfair, unbalanced, actually malicious, and published with intent to actually damage the reputation of a public figure. There is, although Miami Herald readers would not know it, another side of the Rick Scott story. But to get it you will have to leave Florida or go online, because when it comes to truth in politics, the only thing the Miami Herald is good for, at least in Miami Beach, is to stuff into sewer-soaked shoes to dry them out and absorb the stink – a bachelor might subscribe so papers will pile up at his doorstep and his body will be found before it begins to stink. The Herald is no “watchdog” – it is a sleeping dog that gets up after the alarm has sounded and the house has been cleaned out.
Matt Walsh of the Gulf Coast Business Review read the Florida media’s smears of Mr. Scott’s character and conducted an independent investigation into all the facts in their actual contexts. His report, The Real Rick Scott’, was published October 15, 2010, and is recommended reading for Miami Herald readers who prefer something to offset their hometown scandal sheet – ‘slander’ is derived from ‘scandal.’
In sum: People who actually know and who have worked with Rick Scott say he is as honest as a Boy Scott, straightforward, unquestionably sincere, honest, and ethical, and got ahead because he was hard-working and smarter than others in his business, which made him a terrific deal maker. And they say his deals and his results-oriented executive style revolutionized the industry. Further, he is not arrogant: he is humble enough to stand in line in the cafeteria with the rest of the help. He does not like intolerant people, but he believes getting angry is a waste of time. He is a positive person, a motivator, inspiring to work with. The troubles at his hospital organization as well as with all the other hospitals began with Hillary Clinton’s advancement of a big universal health care plan, and with her husband’s ‘Operation Restore Trust’ which brought out the bloodhounds to investigate Medicare fraud. The complex rules defining overbilling were changed as the investigations proceeded, and fines for Medicare fraud were imposed not only on Mr. Scott’s organization, several years after his departure, but on some of the most prestigious institutions in America. Inside and outside counsel had been employed and retained and their advice had been followed, and Big Four accounting firms had audited the books – there was no fraud detected as currently defined, but still the fines; and it became necessary to cop pleas given the federal government’s incredibly deep pockets for prosecuting its claims. The issue of fraud had not been an issue that Mr. Scott and the directors were wont to consider at the time. The questioned practices arose with hospitals prior to their acquisition by Mr. Scott’s organization. He was not a subject of interest with prosecutors, and was not personally investigated. His resignation from the firm was due to a conflict with Dr. Tommy Frist, and had nothing to do with the Medicare investigation.
Do not believe everything you read in the Miami Herald. It has become a scandal-mongering slander sheet written by political hack writers with a left-wing agenda. It was not much better when it leaned hard-right and cottoned to the Cuban exile market and the neoconservatives. The newspaper does provide the community with a great deal of useful information, and some of its muckraking has been on point, but its political coverage pandering to the fear and hatred of the readers it would misinform and manipulate, its unbalanced, prejudiced, biased and defamatory approach to the so-called news, has shamed it to such an extent that pretty soon it will be irrelevant which candidates it endorses for anything at all. Indeed, perhaps any candidate it endorses will be suspected and voted against.