The continuing war between the news media and Republicans reached Wisconsin in a strange way last week.
On Tuesday I got this email at work from Carly Atchison of the National Republican Congressional Committee:
Hey there –
Where does Ron Kind stand on leaving a newborn baby alone to die on the delivery room floor?
For weeks, socialist Democrats have blocked a bill requiring doctors to provide care for babies who survive an abortion, so now House Republicans are trying to force a vote using a discharge petition.
Republicans proposed the Born Alive Survivors’ Protection Act in response to far-left efforts in New York and Virginia to legalize abortions up to the moment of birth, and even after birth in the case of racist Ralph Northam.
In the wake of those efforts, polling shows a dramatic swing in voters who now identify as pro-life.
To force a vote, at least 218 members of Congress must sign the discharge petition. Will Ron Kind be one of those 218?
Before we resume: I get a ton of these emails from both parties and organizations that support both parties. They never appear in the newspaper, because they are never news. Nor does anything from a politician who does not represent anyone who reads the newspaper, for the same reason.
Politicians and political groups tend to send self-promotional (either directly or indirectly by bashing the opponent or opposing party) emails whether or not the targeted media outlet is likely to run them. That could explain, I suppose, why that particular email went to the Cheese Reporter, a Madison-based publication whose stance on abortion rights is unknown if not nonexistent.
The correct response to irrelevant political emails is to (1) ignore them, (2) trash them or (3) label them as spam or junk mail. None of those were the response of Cheese Reporter assistant editor Moira Crowley, who emailed back instead:
As you can guess by what you’re reading, Atchison did not leave it there, sending an email to Crowley’s employer …
… and the Washington Examiner picks up the story from there:
According to emails provided to the Washington Examiner, Atchison replied: “Moira – My personal story is none of your business, but suffice to say your comments are personally hurtful and disgusting. There is an unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email. I hope you learn to conduct yourself in a more professional manner and pray that the hatred you hold in your heart heals. -Carly.”
The reply from Crowley’s account was: “Oh, I unsubscribed Carly. And I just donated $50 to Planned Parenthood in your name.” The Cheese Reporter’s slogan is: “Serving the World’s Dairy Industry Weekly since 1876.”
Facing an immediate backlash when Atchison shared the first email, Crowley, 45, told the Washington Examiner, via the same email address: “Our email has been compromised and the message is fake.”
The @cheesereporter Twitter account sent out a message: “Recently, one of our employee’s email was hacked and deplorable messages were transmitted. Cheese Reporter and the employee ask for your understanding during this difficult time and in no way does Cheese Reporter or the employee condone or endorse any of these hacked messages.”
Another message from @cheesereporter said: “For those who recently began following us for the hacked comments, please unfollow our Twitter account as we do not want to be a messenger for your beliefs.” …
Cheese Reporter is a newspaper and website based in Madison, Wis. It bills itself as “the leading newspaper serving the world’s cheese manufacturing and milk processing industries every week.”
The publication’s previously most political communication appears to have been a tweet sent just after Trump’s inauguration saying: “Obama left office with a pretty noteworthy record when it comes to policy that will be difficult for Trump to top.”
For what it’s worth, there are left-wing farmers. Just look at the National Farmers Union, and I would guess that organic farmers are generally more left than right, though I know that is not universally the case. Nevertheless, I think the percentage of farmers who voted for Hillary Clinton instead of Trump is rather small.
The political inclinations of farmers are not the issue here. The issue is the unprofessional conduct of a member of the news media, who instead of ignoring an email that didn’t adhere to her apparent political views and/or unsubscribing, felt the need to share her views on a topic that is not relevant to her work or her employer using her employer’s resources. (No, I do not believe the email hack story.) Once upon a time that was a firing offense.
Of course, in the way that even a driver hit by another car is legally partially at fault because the driver was there (if the driver wasn’t there, no crash happens), the NRCC probably needs to update its email list. Cheese Farmer might be interested in Congressional Republicans’ positions on issues affecting dairy farmers, but from what I’ve seen of NRCC emails they are less informational than attempting to get people in the media to write opinion pieces about how horrible those Democrats are and how wonderful those Republicans are.