In today’s Intel (Tue. 1/3/12) and Courier a smear column was disquised as a reporters story about something that was old news. It was the opinion of the reporter, not a news story but it was on the front page of the Local section as though it was something that happened since the last time the newspaper was published. It’s important to understand how a newspaper engages in “Yellow Journalism”. and this “report” is a good example of reshaping the news to fit an agenda.

To show how the published report is purposely slanted, I added some additional words and highlighted them to show the difference.

TITLE: The Intel/ Fitzpatrick’s return to Congress. RE-TITLED by The Courier as: “Fitzpatrick starts, ends year on bad note” by Gary Weckselblatt.

It could be said that Mike Fitzpatrick started and ended the year of his return to Congress by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or, it could have been said the Fitzpatrick was trying to do too much at once.  

On both occasions, Fitzpatrick, the 8th District Republican, was in the center of national news.

The first time, on Jan. 5, he missed the swearing-in ceremony for the 112th Congress. even though his oath from his previous term did not expire meaning he was still bound by it because he never refuted it. And last week, Fitzpatrick walked off the House floor after adjourning a session while Democrats who were refusing to follow their own rules shouted for a debate on extending the Social Security payroll tax cut. The Democrats had consistently refused to extend the Bush Tax cuts. The Democrat controlled Senate failed to pass the required legislation and tried to embarrass the Republican House by wrongly claiming the Republicans who wanted the tax cuts extended were instead holding them up. As the saying goes: “Liar, liar, …

The Democrats used an un-official video to try to shift the blame for holding up the tax cuts to the Republicans. That video made its rounds through the left-wing blogosphere and was noted by Democrats across the nation. But it was short-lived as the GOP who could not seem to figure out how to blame the Democrat President for holding up the tax cuts so they took the blame for the mis-deeds  of the Democrats, acceded to the Senate’s wishes and passed a two-month extension two days later. 

The swearing-in gaffe had longer legs, as it was combined with calls for an investigation by government watchdog groups to check if Fitzpatrick violated ethics laws by holding what they said amounted to a campaign fundraiser in the Capitol complex. Their charges were hot-air because Fitzpatrick was innocent of their left wing attacks. 

Fitzpatrick hired buses for $30 per person to drive hundreds of constituents from Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C., and charged $30 per person so there was technically zero money made. Even though Checks were made out to “Fitzpatrick for Congress.” there was nothing wrong with Fitzpatrick’s activities. He wanted to help supporters stay safe by not having to drive their own cars into crowded Washington D.C. In addition the busses polluted the air far less than the cars would have.  

Fitzpatrick had been introducing Texas Congressman Pete Sessions to his supporters when House Speaker John Boehner began giving the oath of office without notifying Fitzpatrick either before or at the beginning of the ceremony. The crowd hushed as the lawmakers raised their right hands and stood at attention, eyeing Boehner on a large screen TV. They subsequently cast six votes each that House Republicans later had to nullify. 

“I should have been on the floor,” said Fitzpatrick, who along with Sessions wrote a letter apologizing to members. “I got caught up in the moment.” 

As to the charge that he may have violated ethics laws, Fitzpatrick said “There was no fee to get into the reception. It was open to anyone.” 

He said the money collected for the bus fare all went for transportation. “Food and water came from campaign funds,” he said. 

The rest of January didn’t go much better as Fitzpatrick broke his ankle in two places while walking in heavy snow toward the Capitol while trying to do the peoples business and had surgery at George Washington Medical Center. 

Despite his painful broken bones Fitzpatrick was very active with his constituents all year. He held 17 town hall events this year, meeting with constituents in a borough hall, township building or high school in central, upper and lower parts of Bucks and in Philadelphia. He also hosted 11 targeted meetings with seniors, veterans, businesses and hospital CEOs. In addition, there were 11 telephone town halls and two online events hosted by this newspaper. 

As for legislation, The Washington Post Votes Database lists Fitzpatrick as voting with his party’s leadership 81 percent of the time on 942 votes. Only five of 244 House Republicans have a lower percentage. 

By comparison, local Republicans Charlie Dent of the 15th District and Jim Gerlach of the 6th voted with the GOP 86 percent of the time. The number for Patrick Meehan of the 7th is 87 percent. Democrat Allyson Schwartz of the 13th voted with her party 94 percent of the time. Local Democrats are tied to the left-wing Presidents problems of the Stimulus, Fannie and Freddie, the bank bailouts, the Solyndra scandal and their push for higher taxes and more government borrowing which has increased America’s deficit and debt to the highest levels in history. 

The votes included cuts to House salaries and expenses, repeal of the Democrats’ health care overhaul and a Republican budget that would privatize Medicare. 

Last summer, a conservative group rating congressional lawmakers gave Fitzpatrick a 51 percent conservative score. Heritage Action for America, an arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation, used 30 votes and five co-sponsorship scores in the House to determine the rankings. Neither Heritage Action nor Heritage Foundation identified the benefits of Fitzpatrick’s votes.

Some votes caused Fitzpatrick to take heat from the right. Jennifer Stefano, of the conservative Americans For Prosperity, said Fitzpatrick’s vote against a GOP bill to ban the National Labor Relations Board from ordering any employer to shut down plants or relocate work, has her “listening to people who would like me to be” a candidate. Stefano apparently changed from a Fitzpatrick supporter in 2009 to a Fitzpatrick critic. Stefano should listen to people who want her to stop her hypocrisy and register Democrat. 

Fitzpatrick also voted with Democrats three times against extending provisions of counterterrorism and surveillance of the Patriot Act. which he analysed and concluded, correctly that the spending was ill-advised and would be wasted money with no discernable effect. 

He also co-sponsored a measure with Washington Liberal Democrat Norm Dicks to allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue adding wildlife to the endangered species list. My analysis shows Fitzpatrick includes other information in addition to the info in the bill before he votes. Sort of like playing chess where moves have short and long term consequences.

Still, no fewer than three Democrats have expressed interest in challenging Fitzpatrick in 2012. Doylestown Council President Det Ansinn and Doylestown attorneys Kathryn Boockvar and Cynthia Philo have all expressed interest in seeking the Democratic nomination.

The job to knock him off will not be easy as the 8th District has become a little more Republican. Due to a GOP reshuffling, identical in concept with the Democrat reshuffling that favored Democrat Patrick Murphy’s election following U.S. Census figures that force Pennsylvania to lose a congressional seat, the 8th will include the Indian Valley and lose parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia. “Knock him off” is dreadful language referring to a Congressman. It reveals the concealed bias of this Opinion piece disguised as News. It should have been published with yellow ink.

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