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Joe Accuses! Editor Rick Rodriguez Guilty In SacBee Scandal
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May 27, 2005, 05:00 AM
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Last week, I wrote about disgraced Sacramento Bee columnist Diana Griego Erwin who was caught by her editors fabricating sources.

Unable to verify persons cited in seven of her last twelve columns, the Bee accepted Griego Erwin`s resignation on May 11th.

But before we send a lynch mob after Griego Erwin, let`s remember that for crooked journalists to thrive, they need an enabler.

And in the case of the Sacramento Bee, that enabler is Rick Rodriguez, Executive Editor and Senior Vice President.

Rodriguez, by winking at hundreds of biased, unprofessional pieces written by Bee reporters and columnists about "immigrants" a.k.a illegal aliens has given his staff the green light to cover immigration only from the immigration enthusiast perspective. On Rodriguez`s watch, nary a negative word is permitted.

As far as Rodriguez is concerned, the more immigration, uncontrolled though it may be, the better.

Curiously, Rodriquez, while beating his breast about the "ethical lapses" in Griego Erwin`s reporting, is guilty of an even larger journalistic sin …censoring the news.

If you think it is harsh to charge Rodriguez with censorship, then read on.

In 2001, NumbersUSA.Com released a report titled "Weighing Sprawl Factors in Large U.S. Cities." The report, written by environmentalist Leon Kolankiewicz and long-time urban expansion expert (and NUSA director) Roy Beck, is a 62-page analysis of census bureau data on the 100 largest urbanized areas in the US.

Its fundamental point: population growth drives about half of sprawl. Fashionable land-use regulation schemes will fail unless this reality is recognized.

According to the report, Sacramento ranked 57th in the nation in terms of over-all sprawl. The authors found that Sacramento`s growth percentage in total land area during the decade analyzed was 36.7% and its population growth 73.1%. Those are two hefty increases.

Sacramento is an hour from my home town of Lodi (when the traffic isn`t bad). I can assure you that Bee readers—especially those who work at the Capitol—would be interested in the findings of the Kolankiewicz/Beck report. Everyone who lives in Sacramento is concerned about the city`s rapid growth.

Assuming that the report would be a hot story for Bee journalists, I sent copies to the Metro Editor, the editor of the Sunday Forum section, Mary Lynne Vellinga, who had written about sprawl, (mlvellinga@sacbee.com) and columnist Peter Schrag. (pschrag@sacbee.com)

I did not get one reply.

Frustrated, I e-mailed Rodriguez (email him), and named the names of his rude and indifferent employees.

Subsequently, Rodriguez did call Beck. But, despite Beck`s sober evaluation of Sacramento sprawl, the Bee never published a word about it.

Think about that: the Bee, a daily newspaper that has to print tens of thousands of words every week, could not find space anywhere to write even a short blurb about Weighing the Factors of Sprawl.

But the extent of Rodriguez`s journalistic failure is even greater.

Consider that:

  • Weighing the Factors of Sprawl never mentions "immigration" or "immigrants"

  • The report has a two-page list of 38 advisors. Included are 23 Ph.D.s. Nineteen have university affiliations.

  • Rodriguez is a Stanford graduate. Stanford is the home of Paul Ehrlich, author of the 1971 best-seller The Population Bomb. At Stanford, Rodriguez learned about Paul Ehrlich`s views on the threat of overpopulation—he admitted this in a meeting with former Californians for Population Stabilization executive editor Tom McMahon.

So why was no reporting on Weighing the Factors of Sprawl?

The simple but painful answer: Rodriguez doesn`t like the report`s conclusions— and their implications. So nothing appeared in print.

I call that censorship.

But a journalist`s inner sanctum is a cozy place.

Although Rodriguez appears in over his head as Executive Editor, his cronies love him.

Rodriguez is the new president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, one of many organizations where hopelessly out of touch MSM journalists convene to pat themselves on the back.

An interview with Rodriguez conducted by his "dear friend" at the Poynter Institute, Gregory Favre, (gfarve@poynter.org) tells plenty about his priorities.

Rodriguez talks about "diversifying a news room" and "attracting journalists of color."

Who can`t laugh at that? While Rodriguez pontificated to Poynter`s Favre, Griego Erwin, his star, prize-winning columnist, was cranking out fiction at the rate of three columns a week.

In his interview, Rodriguez also says that his theme as the president of the A.S.N.E. will be to "help us to focus on ethical standards, issues of credibility and First Amendment issues."

To that end, I issue a two-pronged challenge to Rodriguez.

  • First, Mr. Rodriguez, to help you understand the magnitude of the Bee`s failure to report without bias on immigration, point me to one single story or editorial that has addressed immigration`s negative impact.

Anticipating that you will not be able to produce such a story, refer me to any body of work from any other major newspaper that reflects the drawbacks of unchecked immigration. 

Or, as a last option, tell me what part of the major media`s reporting of immigration has been either fair or accurate. Recall please the multiple predictions your colleagues made about the Minuteman Project and "violence" by "vigilantes."

  • Second, if you are really concerned about "credibility" and the "First Amendment," hire me to write two columns a month that deals with the hard but true facts about the consequences of immigration.

Before you scoff, remember that you need to restore the Bee`s badly damaged image. And what better way to do it than by adding a known critic of the Bee`s blind devotion to open borders?

Don`t worry about your readers. You`ll find that your audience is more mature and open-minded than you are. Let it decide for itself who is right and who is wrong.

You never know…your circulation may even go up.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.