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The identity of Samson Clems has not been confirmed.


With the conclusion of the Straight Pride Parade saga, there’s once again much to be said about The Modesto Bee. As with all extreme political events, folks usually betray their own political affiliation, and the editors and reporters at the Bee are no exception. Of course, this presents substantial credibility problems when it comes to the Bee — despite their exclamations to the contrary.

The Bee‘s editorial board had no problem suggesting that Don J. Grundmann was a ‘hateful white supremacist’ who was bringing all the nastiness of the world to Modesto. In fact, they sponsored and wrote two articles about it, where it was both asserted and implied. They were even willing to whip-up a fearful frenzy about the ordeal: the white supremacists are here and this could lead to something, quite literally, ‘worse than riots.’ The Bee‘s editors even went out of their way to suggest that the counter-protestors exemplified peace and respect in the face of gratuitous hatred, and then they thanked the Modesto Police Department (MPD) for keeping the peace during the official council meeting for the Parade’s permit. Of course, the obvious implication here is that the counter-protestors have the moral high ground and only want to repel the impending tsunami of hate. There won’t be any violence from the good guys it’ll come from the bad ones, but we have MPD to protect us from those darn hate-mongers!

But as we found out from the Straight Pride Event itself, that didn’t happen. Nothing the Bee‘s editors predicted would happen, happened. Neither the Proud Boys nor Identity Evropa attended, there wasn’t a mass descent of ‘the bad guys,’ and it’s not even clear that the group are the nasty white supremacists we’ve been promised. Only about a dozen people showed up for the Event — some of which were even African American and Hispanic! And they were surrounded by easily one-hundred counter-protestors.

The Editorial Board’s writing reads, at best, as appearing as a second-hand for the Stanislaus County Democrats when it comes to the Straight Pride Event. The Bee‘s sentiments and angst, and in some cases even the language, parrots what was said first, even before the Bee, by our US House Representative Josh Harder and the Democratic Convention Committee Chairwoman Jessica Self. Of course, if we expected original thoughts from the Bee‘s editors we’d expect comments about the apparent misogynistic language Grunmdann uses — after all, his views on the matter are no secret. Unfortunately for the Bee, this is a point the Democrats of Stanislaus County neglect.

With the Bee‘s editorial bias as our beginning point, some of the Bee‘s ‘objective reporting’ decisions begin to make sense. We can honestly say that the actual reporting from the Bee is less overtly partisan. But the residuals of the problem seems to subtly pervade several of its journalistic articles. A sure indicator of this is their invocation of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), especially as they remind us about the nasty hate group the Proud Boys. But there are serious methodological problems that the SPLC has. These issues have led to a broad-brush approach with labeling anything that, typically, resembles a putative conservative ideology as ‘hateful.’ They erroneously labeled as hateful extremists: Ben Carson, the notorious leftist critical of Islam Sam Harris, and other figures who have been critical of Islam. In fact, the SPLC is facing several lawsuits for its approach to labeling what and who is hateful. It’s also worth noting the SPLC takes controversial, putative leftist positions on critical social issues, and have even taken a firm stance against labeling Antifa as a hate group.

It’s not immediately clear why the Bee‘s reporters would invoke organizations like the SPLC at all, especially without giving us some of the Proud Boys’ hateful views. But it sure is politically convenient. Shouldn’t we expect the Bee to at least present some of this information to us? What’s more disheartening is the inadequate portrayal of Grundmann’s views, which you would think they’d consider more carefully if he is, indeed, worthy of the label ‘white supremacist.’ Grundmann apparently has some strong views on the equality of the races, even if his own incompetence as an orator gets in the way, that the Bee‘s actual reporting neglects outright. Doesn’t proper journalism require the Bee to frame his views as they are — especially if they’re as aware as they are of the controversy Grundmann and his event presents?

We can even turn to the most recent article the Bee ‘objectively’ reported on to spot the bias problem. It’s telling that for all this talk about white supremacy, there’s no mention whatsoever of the people of color that supported the Straight Pride Event. This, unfortunately, doesn’t fit the narrative they support. But the Bee was more than happy to offer some remarks from a local LGBTQ+ youth about how much they feel supported by the community. The Bee‘s actual reporters even go so far as to let us know that the counter-protestors “appeared to be largely local.”

This, of course, is purely speculative. Perhaps the Bee‘s reporters could let us know how Modesto locals appear. In the meantime, however, we can answer why the Bee‘s reporters framed everything this way. The impression that the Bee‘s reporters intend to leave us with is that the Modesto community, for the most part, is against the bad guys but for the good guys. And what is even clearer is that what the Bee‘s reporters choose to include and what to neglect certainly seems to evince a pattern of what’s before the mind; one they certainly falls short of objective.

We should conclude with this. We should take issue with the Bee‘s, in the best possible light, appearance of bias. If we are to believe that, as they say, they’re award winning journalists who are worthy of that title, we should expect them to redress their issues with bias. It’s clear that the writers for the Bee have their own views about political topics. This is fine in and of itself. But problems begin when they decide to take stances for us. And, as the Bee‘s Editorial Board suggested about the Straight Pride Parade, ‘our leaders have a duty and responsibility to condemn hate.’ But if they are our leading journalists as they would want us to believe, will they do the same? Even to themselves? When the mirror is turned onto their own objective reporting, they license a platform for the very hate and de-humanization they purport to be against. After all, the actual reporters at the Bee had no problem leaving unqualified one speaker’s remarks about the members of the Straight Pride Coalition:

“It’s a matter of human decency. It’s a matter of being a human being, and that’s not what these people are.”

Perhaps, though, their coverage has less to do with exposing hate and more to do with setting our political agendas.

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