By: Mark Glennon*
Allow comments or don’t, but if you do, don’t pretend you have an open comment system when in fact you’re deleting ones that criticize or don’t fit your narrative.
In the Illinois media, we have two conspicuous offenders.
First is Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax. Write a good challenge and your comment might not appear, especially if you use your own name, unlike the anonymous group that repeatedly writes there. I’ve been deleted while using my own name. Mike Lucci was deleted. Lucci is Gov. Rauner’s policy director and was earlier a VP at the Illinois Policy Institute — a significant voice, you would think, but not the kind of guy Miller would want messing up the picture he paints. Miller says he blocked Lucci to prevent him “from embarrassing himself.”
I got an email last week from a credible person I know who says Miller blocked a comment to the following effect:
“Does the union certify the candidate is qualified for employment? Does the union offer continuing education to make sure that employee succeeds at his job? Does the union offer scholarships to pursue higher education? If no, union membership shouldn’t be mandatory for state employment.”
Miller’s fans, evident in his comment section, are overwhelmingly public union members or supporters, so comments like that aren’t welcome.
Maybe Miller explained on Twitter why I was blocked, but I wouldn’t know because he blocked me there, too. Only a few others have blocked me on Twitter — Neil Steinberg, the far left Sun-Times columnist; Fred Klonsky, a radical union rights blogger; Eric Zorn, the Tribune’s liberal columnist; and the Illinois Education Association, a teachers’ union. You get the drift.
Then there’s the Springfield’s State Journal-Register which, too, has disproportionate public union membership among its readers. They’ve outright blocked Wirepoints from comments (though comments under my own name still appear). The person who wrote that email above also says he’s entirely blocked by the Journal-Register.
What did we do to earn banishment? Criticize public unions, we believe, and challenge the accuracy of some stories. That’s inexcusable. Legitimate reasons for blocking or deleting comments include racism, impersonation, profanity or outright dishonesty. Neither I nor the other blocked commenters, to my knowledge, was guilty of that.
Selectively deleting comments is among the ways of bias. It shields authors from criticism and distorts the sense of public opinion that comments provide. It’s dishonest and wrong.
Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.