Bangor Daily's farcical Kruger coverage

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Bangor Daily's Stephen Betts, the only editor in Maine to endorse Jean Hay Bright over Olympia Snowe in 2006.

Bangor Daily's Stephen Betts, the only editor in Maine to endorse Jean Hay Bright over Olympia Snowe in 2006.
The Bangor Daily News hired the ultra left-wing Stephen Betts to cover the midcoast area after the implosion of the Village Soup media empire. Betts was the editor of the local Rockland paper for years, and is probably best known as the only editor in Maine to endorse Jean Hay Bright for U.S. Senate against Olympia Snowe in 2006. Betts logged quite a body of hard core liberal editorials before his career was thrown into turmoil by the purchase of the Courier papers by Village Soup, and Village Soup’s subsequent collapse.

Now the BDN has assigned Betts as a straight news reporter. So will he be able to shed his open political beliefs and report fairly? His story on the Chuck Kruger/ Cheney execution controversy provides a clear “No!” answer to this question.

We see a lot of ridiculous stories in the Maine press, but this one deserves some kind of award. Starting with the headline:
“Thomaston lawmaker receives death threats over 2011 tweet about Dick Cheney”

It goes downhill from here. Betts writes a story that attempts to cloud the facts, casting doubt on whether Kruger even made the comments on Twitter. Which, of course he did, and has admitted, and there is actual hard proof of this through his twitter account.But Betts frames it this way:
“Last week, an online publication, The Maine Wire, ran an article which included what it said was the tweet from Kruger concerning Cheney.”

Note the ‘what it said was the tweet’. It wasn’t ‘what we said’ was the tweet, it WAS the tweet. In hard copy form. And Kruger has admitted it, all over the place. Betts also inserts this completely unsubstantiated passage:
“Kruger, a Thomaston Democrat, said he was in a Twitter conversation last August concerning a person who said her brother had died after coming back from the Iraq war and not being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Well, Kruger’s twitter account is there to look at, and what he’s saying here is clearly untrue. There is no discussion of anything close to this. Kruger made five comments on his Twitter account between August 23 and September 1:
– One was about redistricting Maine,
– One was an unintelligible response to a blogger,
– One said “I’m a State Rep. from Knox County, listening on line and following on Twitter, Hard to get anything else done here, though”
– One was the infamous Cheney execution comment
– One was a response to a reporter that said only “Not quite a year…”

Nothing about PTSD, or Iraq , or anything of the sort. This information is all public and Betts could have looked for himself. But, of course, he didn’t. He instead wrote a provably factually inaccurate piece to try to take the heat off an ideological compatriot.

The reality is, Kruger was chiming in on a national thread about Cheney, trying to get attention for himself by promoting his execution comments with the Twitter hashtag “#cheney”. For the uninitiated, Twitter users append hashtagged phrases to their comments in the hope that others involved in the same ongoing discussion will notice them. Betts likely has no idea what any of this means, but nevertheless allows Kruger to mischaracterize once again his gross comments.

Kruger has made a series of dishonest statements since we initially confronted him with his tweet (which is not alleged, we have the screen shot). First Kruger refused to comment. Then he said he didn’t remember if he made the comments.Then he closed his Twitter account down to try to hide it. When we published the screen shot of it, he opened it back up. Then he admitted making the comment, but tried to characterize it as a misunderstood joke. Now he’s trying to claim it was in response to some other discussion about PTSD or veterans, and that he’s being taken out of context.

So when Kruger claims he’s getting threats, he’s provided more than enough reason to at least be a little skeptical. Had Betts spoken with Capitol Police, he would have learned that they were not treating Kruger’s claims as “serious threats”. And had he wanted to paint an accurate picture of the brouhaha that Kruger’s execution comments had sparked, he would have detailed the threats against the reporters that broke the story.

Betts commits a slew of journalistic crimes in his piece, but two are particularly blatant. First, he wrote a story about us, The Maine Wire/ MHPC, and Kruger. He spoke with Kruger, but didn’t bother contacting us. Second, he wrote a story basically blaming us for Kruger’s alleged threats, which no one but Kruger actually knows really happened. But he ignores the documented threats MHPC received as a result of our reporting on Kruger’s outrageous comments. Although we published the actual threat phone calls earlier this week, Betts doesn’t mention that Kruger’s crazy sympathizers are threatening to “hunt us down” and “take us out”.

This is quite possibly the worst piece of reporting we’ve seen in Maine in a long time.

15 COMMENTS

  1. So leave it to the BDN to hire this type of reporter. i think the customers of the BDN needs to drop them. I am if this is what they hire to do their cover-up reporting for them.

  2. First, let me clarify that Betts left the Herald Gazette before the implosion – just before (probably saw it coming), but before.  Okay, now, Bangor Daily had to know his liberal leanings. If they didn’t, they haven’t been paying attention. I’m sure they did.  It’s sad, because there are so many more fair editors here they could have hired. 

  3. Now come on folks, should we be surprised at what the Bangor Daily News
    does? Very supportive of anything, and everybody that opposes what
    Governor LePage is attempting to do for Maine. He really gets it,
    however, he gets little ,if any support from the NEWS. It does look like
    the BDN has stepped into it with Mr. Betts. But, there again, this is
    what they were probably hoping to attain. One poster hear mentions
    people dropping their subscriptions to the NEWS. I know of a few that
    dropped theirs here in the Brewer area, when I was kicked off the NEWS’
    web pages, because I asked an anonymous  poster, if they had taken their
    morning meds. Can you believe it? Personal I’m thinking. It’s been
    since last August, and I’m proud to be wearing the badge of honor,
    frankly.

  4. The only thing worth reading in the BDN is the obits. That has been true a very long time. They are as left as the PPH which was left when the Blethen’s owned it….thenk God for the Maine Wire!

  5. Excellent article that puts it in black and white exactly what is going on in the mainstream media.   Thank you all involved at The Maine WIRE for having the courage to stand up and undo the wrongs that are ‘brainwashing’ the readers of today’s “old school” media sources.

    And for those that are really interested in following along a small Maine town’s people with just that same ‘courage’ simply click: http://www.lisbonreporter.com

    Shalom!!!

  6.  I really do like this blog. Very informative, and well done. Would like to sign on for daily updates.

  7.  Why would Sussman-Pingree buy the BDN, except to keep it alive?  What could they do to make it more left-lurching except rename in the Bangor Democratic Nutsource.

  8. ” Quosque tandem abutere, BDN, patientia nostra?”

    How long will you abuse our patience, Oh BDN?—Cicero, Cataline Orations (adapted).

  9. Steve Betts is a disgrace to his profession and has been for many years.  He simply cannot stop propagandizing for the Liberal Socialists. The Maine Wire is the only real news agency in this State.  Betts and the Basically Democratic News (BDN) and the Progressive Pingree Hacks (PPH) deserve each other. 

  10. “This is quite possibly the worst piece of reporting we’ve seen in Maine in a long time. ”
    AND THAT’S SAYING SOMETHING!!!
    A couple of questions.
    1) Why hasn’t anyone in leadership in the Legislature commented on the whole situation?
    2) If Kruger were a Republicans and the Democrats were running Augusta is there any doubt they would be calling for his resignation?
    3) Anyone call the Secret Service? This is a threat by a public official on a former Vice President of the United States.

  11. The answer to your question Richard, is COURAGE!  That is a trait that many, and probably most elected officials lack. If only they had the back-bone of Governor LePage, things could be mighty different all over Maine.

  12. Living in the Mid Coast area for 30 years, I have read a lot of Mr. Bett’s writing. The only thing he could do decently was the court logs. Everything else had a slant.

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