Letter to editor 6-14-06

To the left is my letter to the Editor of the Austin American Statesman newspaper, which was published June 14, 2006. I wrote to comment on an article that appeared in the paper the week before.

To my surprise, the day before my letter was printed, I received a personal email from the author of the article on which I was commenting.

Below is the email thread showing how he found out about my letter, his email to me and my response to him.

On Jun 13, 2006, at 2:30 PM, Monica Cardenas wrote (to Steven Kreytak):

Just an fyi on a letter I'm planning to run tomorrow:

Travis County with a D

A relatively non-political article June 7 reveals, I believe, the political bias of at least one of your reporters (“That's Judge Kocurek with a D, thank you”).
Steven Kreytak writes, "Democrats have long held a stranglehold on Travis County politics, even as Republicans in the last decade locked up power in the rest of the state." Stranglehold? Odd choice of words, isn't it? Republicans simply "lock up" power, but Democrats, in your the reporter's view, "strangle" the county.
Why not just accept that Travis County still has a majority of reasonable, thinking people even though it is surrounded by a state full of ditto-heads?

Round Mountain

----- Original Message -----
From: Steven Kreytak
To: ric@hughes.net
Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2006 2:56 PM
Subject: Fwd: letter to the ed

Mr. Sternberg:

I'd like to take a moment to respond to your recent letter to the editor, which I understand will be published in tomorrow's paper (see below). I am not sure I see the difference you see between "stranglehold" and "locked up." I think both mean essentially the same thing -- to secure. I also don't understand the incessant need by some -- including in this case, yourself -- to try and find "bias" in news reporting. I seriously think you have misinterpreted a harmless, factual, straight forward article that contains none of my personal opinion whatsoever.

Thanks for reading, though. Glad to know we are reaching Round Mountain. And some folks around here enjoyed the ditto-head comment, one they hadn't heard in years.

Steven Kreytak
Staff Writer
Austin American-Statesman
305 S. Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78704
fax: 512.445.3679
phone: 512.912.2946

And here's my response to Kreytak:

Dear Mr. Kreytak,

Thanks for your response to my letter. To "lock" someone or something up is to put him, her or it away securely. This could be a good thing. For example a "lock box" for social Security (which we never did get) would be a positive connotation. Even in its most severe connotation, to "lock" is not as bad as to "strangle" which generally kills. Though you are probably not one, I'd guess that even a ditto-head would note that distinction.

And I'm surprised to learn that "ditto-head" hasn't been heard around your office "in years". Y'all must not listen to Air America, nor catch any of Jim Hightower's speeches because both Jim and the Air America folks use the term with some regularity, often when referring to Limbaugh and O'Reilly's regular fans.

Regarding the "incessant need" to find bias. Of course I realize that both sides of the political spectrum have come down on the Statesman (and other generally middle-of-the-road media) as being flaming somethings. In my not too humble opinion, while often printing somewhat balanced copy, the Statesman has, over the years, increased the use of headlines, sub-heads and charged words (such as "stranglehold") for right-leaning editorializing. You should be pleased to know though that people are reading your words carefully enough to pick up your subtle slams.

As one far outside the mainstream media, I am always happy and proud to reveal my own political bias. I find it unfortunate that you seem unaware of your own. Perhaps it is this bias that has prevented you from noticing that the mainstream media have indeed been listing more and more to the right. I'm pleased to report though that change is in the air.


Ric Sternberg

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