Two stories regarding Maine’s second most powerful legislator, House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland), have remained largely untouched by the state’s newspapers, corporate press, and taxpayer-funded media.
One stems from the claim made by a highly credible Maine State Police figure that the House Speaker misrepresented his support for a racial profiling bill before the Judiciary Committee. The other story is her sensational Juneteenth statement that “We should be storming the Capitol” over the “supremacist” ideology of Maine’s Department of Education.
The first story, reported exclusively by the Maine Wire, revealed that earlier in June the House Speaker misrepresented the position of the Maine State Police (MSP) on her anti-profiling bill, LD 1613, in a Judiciary Committee work session, citing an email claiming as much from the MSP.
Talbot Ross claimed in the June 7 work session on an amendment to her bill that the MSP were in full agreement to a definition of “profiling” provided to her office by the ACLU of Maine, and taken directly from California state law.
Lt. Col. Brian Scott of the MSP was listening remotely to the June 7 work session, and emailed the Committee Clerk Susan Pinette to clarify that the agency did not yet have an official position on the amendment.
This means that Talbot Ross was either lying about the MSP position on her bill, or was severely mistaken. She has not yet provided any clarification on which of those two it was. Perhaps one of the outlets so lucky as to have been granted access could be useful in getting to the bottom of this.
By June 15, the House Speaker was able to obtain the support of the MSP on her anti-profiling bill by removing a provision which would allow officers to be sued under the Maine Civil Rights Act following law enforcement interactions that involved any degree of profiling. The very act seems to be an admission of sorts that Lt. Col. Scott was telling the truth.
The second story showed exclusive footage of Talbot Ross speaking at the Juneteenth “State of Black Maine” symposium at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.
During her speech, Talbot Ross called the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) an “oppressive” and “supremacist” system, due to the fact that the “forgotten history” of African-Americans had been relegated to online “MOOSE” teaching modules.
She then called upon those present at Monday’s Juneteenth symposium to storm the Capitol out of anger at the MDOE’s alleged white supremacy.
“We should all storm the institution, out of anger that this is the attitude that they’ve taken about our history,” she said. “We should be storming the Capitol. Really, I’m serious.”
Despite saying “Really, I’m serious” about her incitement of the Juneteenth crowd to storm Maine’s Capitol, Maine’s media has apparently deemed the House Speaker’s statements not newsworthy.
Beyond her remarks, it’s also newsworthy that Talbot Ross, despite believing some hidden racist forces are controlling the Mills Administration’s Education Department, opposed several bills this session that would have required more transparency from Maine’s educational system. If she really believed something insidious is happening in the education system, why wouldn’t she support more transparency and more protections for parental rights?
Why the state’s traditional media outlets are reluctant to touch these two stories about Talbot Ross could be because the legislative session is wrapping up this week.
Any attention drawn away from the Democrat caucus’ agenda on issues of paid leave, abortion, and gender-affirming care for minors could jeopardize their legislative initiatives. These media outlets, operating as media organs of the Democratic Party, wouldn’t want to muddy the waters.
Or perhaps Talbot Ross, whom the media heralded as Maine’s first African-American Speaker of the House, is simply untouchable, beyond criticism. Perhaps reporters fear that their access to the Speaker’s office might be restricted if they so much as whispered that the Maine Wire had actually broken two very newsworthy stories.
Whatever the explanation may be, there’s no question that both of these stories are sensational, highly newsworthy, and worth at least as much attention as a new mall in Presque Isle, a ukelele flash mob, or the status of Maine’s poets.
Maine Public, the state’s taxpayer funded outlet, even reported on the symposium where Talbot Ross called for storming the capitol, yet they did not see fit to mention her remarks. Odd, that.
These same media outlets ignoring Talbot Ross have dedicated countless hours to their obsession with an obscure New York congressman. Perhaps that’s because there is an “R” behind his name.
To its credit, the Bangor Daily News begrudgingly published an op-ed Wednesday by Maine Policy Institute CEO Matt Gagnon about the media blackout on the House Speaker’s incendiary remarks.
One has to consider, however, whether the Daily News, the Press Herald, or any other media outlet would consider it frontpage news, not just a reluctantly published opinion item, if a Republican lawmaker said pernicious and evil forces controlling a government agency mean we should “storm the Capitol”
LISTEN: Maine Wire Reporter Edward Tomic joins WVOM’s George Hale and Ric Tyler Show Thursday morning to discuss House Speaker Talbot Ross’ recent comments:
UPDATE: After the publication of this story, the Bangor Daily News published a story about House Speaker Talbot Ross’ comments.