As the nation becomes more politically divided and people seem to believe what they want to believe instead of what is true, it becomes more and more risky to align yourself with either political party.
This may be particularly true when it comes to businesses that support certain candidates.
Mountaire Farms, reportedly the fifth largest contributor to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, recently became the target of an anti-Trump, anti-Republican organization, which recently published a video titled “Top Trump Donor POISONS Rural Delaware.” The video was posted on the YouTube channel, Rebel HQ, which is operated by The Young Turks (TYT), an organization that Wikipedia defines as “a progressive left-wing American news and commentary program.”
Mountaire, in recent years has had its share of opponents in the Delmarva Peninsula over environmental concerns. So TYT apparently tied those people’s concerns and the company’s Trump connection together to smear Mountaire and Trump all at the same time.
The video is clearly not intended to be a form of balanced media coverage, as TYT host Emma Vigeland says Mountaire talks about their practice of spray irrigating wastewater onto fields, and interviews residents about their experiences with the irrigation process and its alleged impacts on their health. But nowhere in the video is an interview with a representative of Mountaire to explain the things the company has done to be good resource stewards or be good neighbors in Delaware’s Sussex County. That could be just as well, because you never know how such footage would be presented, honest or not.
In TYT’s defense, it did at least show one sign of nonpartisanship when it left in a comment from one woman who said: “They don’t want to hear us. The Democrats, the Republicans, the Independents, they don’t want to hear us. They shut us down.”
Coverage of the coverage
The video has had a domino effect with the regional media, which has been quite interesting.
Gannett, which operates numerous newspapers around the country, published the story on two websites, Delmarva Now and Delaware Online. Meanwhile, Delaware Business Now offered coverage of that coverage.
According to Delaware Business Now, Delaware Online in its lead paragraph, wrote, “A progressive news organization, The Young Turks, posted a video on YouTube Tuesday accusing Mountaire Farms of poisoning rural Delaware.” But Delmarva Now’s lead read, “Progressive left-wing news organization, The Young Turks, posted a vitriolic video on YouTube Tuesday accusing Mountaire Farms of poisoning rural Delaware.”
The differences pointed out by Delaware Business Now could easily show the two Gannett properties have opposing views of the company and the president. Calling TYT a “progressive news organization” with no mention of its political leanings might lead one to believe Delaware Online is an opponent of Mountaire and Trump, while use of the words “left-wing” and “vitriolic” by Delmarva Now might lead one to believe that news source has no use for TYT’s form of coverage.
Being a journalist in hyper-partisan times isn’t easy. People will jump to conclusions about someone’s political views just based on one piece of coverage or even one sentence. After one blog of a political nature, one reader called me “another Kansan on the Trump train,” while after another blog, I was accused of being part of the “liberal media.”
In reality, neither description fits me, but people will believe what they want to believe and, sadly, will continue to lash out at someone with an uncivil email or online comment that they would most likely never say in a face-to-face conversation.
Having said that and in the spirit of nonpartisanship and unbiased reporting, I like the comment from Mountaire that appeared in the Delaware Business Now report, in which the company said, “The two lawsuits against Mountaire Farms concerning wastewater issues will be decided in court, not on YouTube.”