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No problem with ‘tabloid journalism’

By Staff | Jul 6, 2011

To the editor,

Recently, the Island Reporter ran a front page story and picture about the arrest of a son of a good friend of mine, Rookie, a solid, reliable friend and neighbor to hundreds of other islanders as well.

The charges against this young man whom everyone loved when he worked at Bailey’s checkout counter were no worse — in fact, much less serious — than those hurled against me when I was arrested at midnight in my own home last year after the entire “wired, Facebooked, Twittered” and e-mailed island read the “Wanted, SilverAlert” about me on a trumped-up charge of insanity, supported by my own former island doctor and another head doctor, paid handsomely by my former wife and doctor for a five-minute examination, to sign a Baker Act commitment paper on someone she had never before met. I was handcuffed in front of my neighbor and led off in the dark to a snake pit asylum 40 miles away where I was incarcerated without the right to make a single telephone or cell phone call. It reminded me of Nazi German in the 1930’s, or more recently apartheid South Africa. I’ll never be comfortable again when I hear footsteps or boots in the night.

But there was no front page story and mugshot picture for me… just a nearly solitary “perp walk” to the cramped, caged back seat of a waiting Sanibel Police patrol car. Raccoons and alligators get better, more comfortable transit.

Then, I reflected on some of the other really big stories not reported locally — like two retired defense contractors who live on Sanibel, who made hundreds of millions from taxpayers in the face of frequently sloppy and nearly always

overrun performances by both of their companies, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.

Then there were no stories or pictures about a frequent visitor to The Sanctuary by “near scratch” golfer, General Electric’s ex-CEO zillionaire Jack Welch, who presided over a company still on the public dole, where GE Capital was Welch’s

“cookie jar” from which he flagrantly “cooked the books” for years, showing totally false profits to his unwitting shareholders.

I have no problem with “tabloid journalism.” I read the New York Post and London’s Daily Mail every day. But if the Island Reporter wants it that way, let’s start going after people like Mitt Romney, who made a huge personal fortune by putting companies into bankruptcy and lining his own pockets with the huge profits generated by “short term capitalism” — short term right into his own wallet.

Richard Cook