Smears, lies, and childishness: The local media
By Michael Gaffney
It is no secret that I have decided in this election cycle to refuse any statements, candidate profiles or interviews with the local media. This decision was well-thought out and made after over two and a half years of the media continuing to misrepresent me and what I stand for, both as a political candidate and a person, as payback to the political establishment for access. Here is a not-so-quick look at the many instances of unfair (and in some cases, blatantly untrue) things printed about me since last election cycle and an explanation of who created the story.
It is without coincidence that my first year on Council was without incident. The trouble began once I announced my intent to run for Mayor.
It begins: North High School: An unofficial Fight Club had started by the students at North High School. In statements made to the Telegram & Gazette, Mayor Joseph Petty called my claims for police at the school “ridiculous.” But he capitulated to my demand for police in the high schools and since has boasted about safer schools. What is important about this event is that it turned into the precursor for the cries of racism. Masslive did an article about a group called “The Coming Together Collective” that “called out Councilor Michael Gaffney by name” claiming I was “exploiting” children while stating that there were “derogatory statements about minority children and calling them savages” were being made by a local blog. The beginning of the relentless attempt to smear me by association. This also began the often laughable campaign by Clive McFarlane at the Telegram and Gazette to paint me as a racist as he began his efforts to go after any like-minded educators and claim they were racist to “ensure that public comments and posts by school personnel do not perpetuate racial bias against students of color and racial discrimination under the law . . . I would like to believe we don’t need a change in policy to rid the classroom of such educators.” In case you were wondering, “The Coming Together Collective” was led by Brenda Jenkins, Keesha LaTulippe, and Joyce McNickles, the leaders of the Mosaic Cultural Complex that was used as the launching pad for the Kelly Square blockade. And who was behind this effort? City Councilor Sarai Rivera, pictured here kicking off the Kelly Square Blockage with Brenda Jenkins at the Mosaic Cultural Center:
Racist: Mosaic Cultural Complex: I read an article by Patrick Sargent when he was writing for GoLocalWorcester wherein “GoLocal reported that Mosaic accepted more than $50,000 in grant money.” GoLocalWorcester also reported that there was “no specific mention” of the services on the Mosaic Cultural Complex website, “no contact information on the site, no meeting times, and no schedule of events.” So, I called for an audit. The audit found that the services weren’t rendered, that the employees weren’t paid, and the matter was referred to the AG’s Office resulting in Mosaic being placed on financial probation until June of 2018. Of course, the reality of the situation was lost in the firestorm of allegations of racism against me by nearly every media outlet. Keep in mind, the vote for the audit was 11-0 in favor by City Council, while an audit I called for on the Chamber of Commerce was shot down by parliamentary procedure. The Telegram and Gazette immediately called upon me to “answer to questions about [my] motivations for putting the item on [the] agenda.” Worcester Magazine focused its reporting on the race issue quoting Julius Jones (one of the Kelly Square blockaders and Mosaic member) “This is a question of how the city is going to vote with its dollars and resources on how to propagate racism or fight racism.” And of course, Clive McFarlane at the Telegram and Gazette, wrongfully claimed that there was “zero evidence of wrongdoing. That my audit was “a blatant attempt to intimidate and subvert the Black Lives Matter campaign in this city.” And continued on to say that I was “using the power” of my office “to try and lynch” Mosaic. As above, this group was supporting Rivera and she was supporting Petty.
Anti-Semitic: Reverend Aaron Payson: Rev. Payson sent me an email claiming that I had “explicitly condoned statements that are at least extraordinarily offensive to many Worcester residents and for some, including me, constitute a form of hate speech.” He also sent a copy to Rev. Jose Encarnacion, Saria Rivera’s husband. What had happened became clear after-the-fact, Rivera and her husband misinformed Rev. Payson concerning a comment that I “liked” on Facebook that stated that lamented about the Burncoat area losing its identity as a middle class neighborhood stating that “Tatnuck is nice, but it is filled mostly with Jewish and Albanian natives, also by the way, I love it.” I read the entire post to Jordan Levy and he stated that it was not anti-Semitic at all. The Telegram and Gazette chose to report extensively on comments by former Councilor Rushton, who now writes for the Telegram, who claimed that Rev. Payson’s interpretations were correct and insinuated that I was using hate-speech. Yet again, Rivera deliberately misled Rev. Payson for the purposes of claiming I was anti-Semitic to help Petty in his reelection.
Campaign finance complaint, a Masslive smear: During the election Masslive ran an article reporting that I was being investigated by OCPF for payment for sponsored blogs run on Turtleboy Sports. It was completely unfounded as OCPF never investigated any such matter. After the election, Masslive published another story advising that there was simply “a lag between the date when the services are provided and the date when the expenditure . . . is posted.” Election year games by an alleged newspaper to benefit Petty.
Slave Master: Clive McFarlane of the Telegram and Gazette as distraught by my second place finish in the Council race and the fact I was elected as Vice Chair of the City Council, lamented that I “enjoyed robust support” and “it shouldn’t be lost on us that his candidacy was endorsed by the Worcester police union.” He concluded with the statement that “every time he swings that gavel in the people’s chamber, it will likely resonate among the city’s community of color with the sting of a slave master’s whip.”
Sexist: In my evaluation of the City Manager, I printed articles from multiple sources, to include, the Telegram and Gazette, Worcester Magazine, Masslive, Turtleboy Sports, etc. The articles were attached as appendix to the evaluation. Apparently, one of the article contained a comment to it that used the c-word. Not the article, but a comment. When I was informed that the word had been included in a comment, I instructed the Clerk to remove it from the evaluation. But, never to avoid an opportunity where one doesn’t exist, an item was brought before Council to limit free speech much to the glee of Walter Bird at Worcester Magazine who stated “to read Gaffney’s evaluation is to ingest a rather appalling presentation.” Councilor Carlson, the Chair of the Worcester Democratic City Committee, read a prepared speech calling me sexist. Fortunately, the audience’s reaction to limiting free speech was not what they expected as they booed the attempt and the entire matter blew up when Councilor Rivera stated “my vaginal area produced two children, I’d like to see a penis do that.”
You are Trump: I had exposed Rivera’s attempt to use public funds to knock down her abandoned, burnt out church. Rivera chaired the committee that approved the funds. She took $80,000 out of the property in mortgages prior to the approval for the demolition by her committee. City Council voted against the use of the funds for Rivera’s church demolition with the City Manager calling the optics bad. And then Dianne Williamson at the Telegram and Gazette wrote a hit piece calling me “an odd duck”, my show “bizarre”, that I was Worcester’s “very own clone of trickle-down Trump.” She discussed my hair as “weirdly-dyed tresses that resemble no color found in nature” and went on “(By the way, councilor, Justin Timberlake called. He wants his hair back).” Of course, I have no problem being compared to Justin Timberlake. She concluded with calling me names “arrogant, mean-spirited, petty, attention seeking, vicious and not a little bit creepy.”
Bigoted, playing to the Cheap Seats – Morons, stupid, not very educated: The Sanctuary City Resolution: I called for clarification as to whether Worcester was a Sanctuary City. The resolution I drafted stated that we welcomed Immigrants and Refugees so long as they followed our laws. The Telegram and Gazette jumped all over it quoting Petty accusing me “of creating an atmosphere of fear and bigotry” and that I was “playing to the cheap seats” “off the coattails of the new president, Donald J. Trump.” The continued Trump theme. Of course, Council chose not to vote whether we are or are not a Sanctuary City after Petty bussed in a massive protest at City Hall. Chanel 5 News has excellent footage of him standing over the crowd leading a chant against me. He was so pumped up that he walked into Council for the prepared event and then imploded. The list of speakers had been typed up in advance to eliminate anyone that would demand a vote on the issue. This was to be the Joe Petty show. However, Petty was so excited that he didn’t realize his microphone was on when he turned to the City Manager and called the protestors “stupid, stupid, stupid” then “morons, morons, morons” ending by turning to the Clerk and saying “they are not very educated” then turning to the City Manager saying “they are not very educated at all”. The moment of glory was lost shortly after the meeting when the audio was released and the story became a national embarrassment for Worcester. The next day, Petty was apologizing for a “hot mic” moment to the newspapers and on the Jordan Levy Show. The articles poured out about how it was an unfortunate event and Petty should be forgiven. Two days later, Petty recanted the apology and a man that was known for wearing and orange jumpsuit with a gag in his mouth claimed it was him that said it all along. I watched Jordan Levy’s reaction when he heard it. He stated that the voice was Petty and that he would never forgive him for lying to his audience. Shortly after that, the Telegram and Gazette, Worcester Magazine, and Masslive, all of which ran articles about Petty’s apology said they knew it wasn’t him all along. If that was true, one would expect professional journalists to have stated that it wasn’t him from the beginning. The fact is, Petty either lied when he said he said it or lied when he said he didn’t say it and the local media covered for him.
White Nationalist: Billy Shaner writes the Worcesteria gossip column at Worcester Magazine and has spent nearly every issue posting hit pieces on me. I really can’t buy the amount of press he gives me each week and he is generally incompetent in his attacks. A few months ago, he decided to connect me to the white supremacist movement by wrongfully attributing a Voltaire quote used here in the Worcester Independent Leader to a white nationalist. The same quote was used by Occupy Wall Street for Pete’s sake! Of course he did it a week after the events in South Carolina where it was in fashion to “punch a Nazi.”
The article that sums it up: Dianne Williamson writing for the Telegram and Gazette sums up the media in her article defending the Editor of Worcester Magazine, Walter Bird, after he had been exposed for sexual harassment. In the article, she condones the harassment of an 18 year old female supporter of mine that was chased around by a grown woman for handing out my literature. She goes on and on about me being “right wing” and calls me “Donald Trump’s mini-me.” She accused me of committing a crime and the Telegram and Gazette was forced to print a retraction as it was clearly libelous. Her real issue is that “like Trump, he hates real journalists and refuses to speak with any of us.” Truth is, she is filled with hate for anyone she disagrees and had been embarrassed weeks before after she was caught taking a picture of a man changing her tire and fat shaming him. She is the embodiment of the local media.
There is much, much more, but in the interests of keeping the word count to a reasonable number, I have stuck to major items, if I have missed any, it was due to the shear amount of material.
So, when you hear that I don’t cooperate with the media or you hear others say negative things about me and don’t understand where it comes from or how to respond, you now have the history and cause of some of it.
Before social media, the local establishment could defeat candidates via their friends in the local media. They could portray them in any light they chose, to include outright lies. They continue to attempt to do so, but less and less people turn to them for the news or believe what they print. Now, social media provides the opportunity to respond, to get the truth out, and to expose them. They are not used to be questioned and exposed. They hate that I use social media to circumvent them.