The Asbury Park Press Is Unfair and Biased, Dishonest and Incompetent

By Art Gallagher

The Neptune Nudniks’ coverage of Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger’s job as Director of the Office for Planning Advocacy, and the fact that he did not announce the job with great fanfare during the Middletown campaign for Township Committee demonstrates just how unfair and biased the Asbury Park Press is when you compare their coverage, or lack there of, to other stories of far more consequence.

All media outlets are biased. It is impossible not to be. We’re all human and have our point of view.  MMM proudly declares that we are fair and biased in our logo welcoming readers to the site.  Newspapers like the Asbury Park Press are disingenuous when they claim to be unbiased. The APP even claimed that they and other “real journalists” work hard to be unbiased in a editorial bashing the owners of FoxNews for donating $1 million dollars to conservative causes last summer.  I say FoxNews is more trustworthy.  At least they disclosed their owner’s bias.  The APP, and many many others persist with their facade that they are unbiased when their behavior clearly demonstrates otherwise.

With their article and editorial today, combined with Friday’s article and Bob Ingle’s blog post on Sunday, APP.com has  published 2547 words in four pieces on three separate days to the story of a volunteer Mayor who was appointed to a State job over the summer and did not make it an issue in his reelection campaign.

Contrast this to the news that Congressman Frank Pallone and three of his colleagues used their political influence to get the FDA to approve an unsafe medical device in exchange for campaign contributions.  The FDA reversed itself after an internal investigation.  The issue was national news for a few days.  But not for the Asbury Park Press and their sister papers that cover the 6th congressional district.  Three days after the Kansas City Star published the story of Pallone and his crooked cronies putting Americans’ health at risk in exchange for campaign cash, the APP published one article of 619 words with a pro-Pallone spin. Ingle added 194 words with the appropriate slant two days later.

The APP never covered Democratic Freeholder John D’Amico’s pay to play plea to Barbara McMorrow.  They had the story at least two days before I did.

The APP is unfair and biased in what they cover and it how they cover it.

The same reporter, Kevin Penton, wrote the Pallone/FDA story and the Scharfenberger stories. 

Referring to the report that exposed the Pallone/FDA scandal, Penton wrote “The report — the result of an investigation requested in May 2009 by three congressmen, including Pallone — does not specify who in Congress made the persistent inquiries.”  There was no further follow up published by Penton or anyone else from the APP.

Yet, Penton spent all day yesterday on the phone and on his computer keeping the Scharfenberger story alive. All those people Penton quoted in his article today…do you think they called him?  Do you think they were even aware that Scharfenberger is the Director of the Office for Planning Advocacy?  Of course not.  Penton made the story.  At least we know he has it in him to do some follow up.  It is too bad that he, and his bosses, are unfair and biased about the stories that they actually decide to put work into, as opposed to what they often do, which is regurgitate what the subjects of their “news” tell them.

Penton’s article and the editorial state that Scharfenberger was asked about his employment in October and did not mention the State job.  Neither Penton nor the editorial name the reporter.  Scharfenberger denies this. He told MMM that he had not spoken to Penton about his job since July, before he was hired by the Christie administration.  Penton has not responded to a phone call and an email from MMM to either verify or dispute Scharfenberger’s account.  Scharfenberger said he was very careful to be truthful during the campaign in how he answered inquiries about his employment with reporters and members of the public in general. 

Scharfenberger knew his state job was common knowledge in certain circles but he did not want it to become a campaign issue.  “What was I going to do, go around town saying ‘vote for me, the Governor thinks I’m so great he hired me’?”  “I did not want to use the job in my favor and I did not want the Democrats to use it against me.  I wanted the campaign to be about Middletown issues, not who I work for.”

Scharfenberger’s account is consistent with my experience.  I knew about Scharfenberger’s job in late August or early September.  I chose not to report it.   I did not find out about the job from Scharfenberger.  He was not happy when I asked him to confirm it.  He assumed I would report on it. 

I’m not a full time journalist.  I haven’t taken a journalism course since I was in high school writing for Bear Facts, the Bergenfield High School newspaper.  Why did I know about Gerry’s job and full time journalists didn’t?  Google has this neat service called “Google Alert.”  Penton and the folks over in Neptune should check it out.   I received anecdotal confirmation of Gerry’s job before I asked him about it. 

I chose not to report about Scharfenberger’s job until after the election because, after observing the Middletown Democrats over the last 13 years I suspected they would distort it and make the campaign about it, rather than the issues facing Middletown.   Feel free to criticise me for not reporting it.  I told you I was fair and biased the moment you got here.  If you’re going to criticise me, please also credit me for my competence. The APP and the Middletown Democrats, and maybe even you, still wouldn’t know about Gerry’s job if I hadn’t reported it.

To prove that I am fair as well as biased, I now disclose that I am aware of two elected officials in Monmouth County, one Democrat and one Republican, who have full time state jobs and are still collecting their stipends from the municipalities that they serve.  The Democrat I found about last week.  The Republican this morning.  I’m not going to tell you who they are, at least not right now.  Now that they know that I know, they have a few days to do the right thing and heed the spirit of Governor Christie’s call for reform and only collect one government salary.   I also want to see if the Neptune Nudniks have what it takes to find out what I already know, or if they care.

There’s a video on YouTube which is a good analogy for how Scharfenberger handled his job during the campaign. You may have seen it already as it has over 6 million views.  Here it is:

In the video, consider Scharfenberger the quarterback and the Middletown Democrats and the Neptune Nudniks the yellow shirted defense.  Did the quarterback do anything illegal?  No.  Did he do anything unethical?  No.  Was he clever?  Yes.  Is clever bad?  If you laughed at the video, you don’t think so.

Had the yellow shirted defense been rigorous and paying attention, the quarterback would have looked like a fool.  As it was, and as it is in the case of Middletown and the APP, the nudniks are  foolish.

Posted: November 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Asbury Park Press, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown | Tags: , , , , , | 39 Comments »

39 Comments on “The Asbury Park Press Is Unfair and Biased, Dishonest and Incompetent”

  1. Dopey Republican said at 1:14 pm on November 10th, 2010:

    “I chose not to report about Scharfenberger’s job until after the election because, after observing the Middletown Democrats over the last 13 years I suspected they would distort it and make the campaign about it, rather than the issues facing Middletown. ”

    Art who are you kidding? you didn’t care a rat’s ass for the Middletown Dems or Gerry Scharfenberger until your ill-advised comments on Jesse Jackson and his “Nigger” comment.

    You went full-in with the Middletown GOP because you felt that Joe Caliendo was behind the Middletown Human Rights Commission inquiry into your comments when it was Scharfenberger who first denied calling an emergency meeting of the MHRC, then was embarrassed by Pat Short into admitting it, when it didn’t go as planned.

    You remember, Gerry wanted dirt on the Courier and thought it’s former publisher was behind your comments, when that wasn’t the case Gerry had egg on his face and you started a personnal vendetta against both the Dems and the publisher that continue till this day.

    Gerry is a sleazy politician and now can be considered the career politician that he accused Byrnes of being during this past election.

    There’s something to be said about honesty, unfortunately you or Gerry have never spoken those words.

  2. Rick Ambrosia said at 1:55 pm on November 10th, 2010:

    Art…you can’t be serious with this article. You can’t be serious to try and defend either one of your positions on this. Especially now when you disclose that you sat on this for months. And you didn’t think this is relevant? Shouldn’t that be left up to the voters to decide? And please, when Scharfy talks out both sides of his mouth and says he never said that to the reporter, why in the world would anyone believe that after he’s been shown to just outright lie. (“I thought everyone knew”..). I would say from this articles headline that the first two descriptors pertain to you…(unfair and biased)…and the last two pertain to Scharfy (dishonest and incompetent).

    I would also bet my house that if this was a democrat who witheld this information, you would be screaming from one end of Bay Ave. to the other about how unethical and dishonest this was.

  3. Givingcredit said at 2:06 pm on November 10th, 2010:

    Read this week’s Independent. Though I didn’t vote for him I give credit to Sean Byrnes for at least acknowledging that in his opinion this issue would not have made a difference in the election.

    The other Middletown Democrats need to stop whining. This election as Art has accurately described was about Middletown taxes and issues, not job descriptions.

    Personally, I think any politician who looks to hold higher office (win or lose) will always lose the confidence of the voters for the lower office. I believe that played more into the fray than this whole non event.

  4. jokesonus said at 3:55 pm on November 10th, 2010:

    If the election were about Middletown issues like 45% tax increase in 5 years, poor planning, and mismanagement, then Scharfenberger would be out of a job. 7,000 more came out to vote because of the anti Democratic sentiment, and that’s why the Dems lost.
    Instead people voted right down party lines. I’m surprised that Byrnes & Mahoney did as well as they did. By all accounts it should have been a landslide. I guess there were a couple of thousand Little supporters who looked at the candidates and not the party.

  5. Jeff said at 4:04 pm on November 10th, 2010:

    You are the most biased reporter out there and your excuses and analogies are ridiculous.
    To defend Scharfenberger and saying the APP is biased does not excuse what he did and why you didn’t report it. You are an accomplice to the deception and have no credibility.
    Your reporting on Pallone & Holt was equally in the gutter and beyond a rational person’s thinking.
    Stop trying to defend yourself, you’re sounding more and more like an idiot and a puppet.

  6. Freethevillage said at 4:15 pm on November 10th, 2010:

    All listen to the wise words of Jeff again. The Lincroft windbag that knows it all has once again spoken.

  7. Jeff said at 4:46 pm on November 10th, 2010:

    Freethevillage, there are more than one Jeffs out there, but you insist on associating me with one you have a beef with. If all you have to accuse me of is being a windbag then that says it all. I ‘d rather be a windbag telling the truth then an idiot making false accusations.

  8. Jerry said at 4:54 pm on November 10th, 2010:

    Freethevillage sounds like the same person posing as Village greener, who can’t stand that Village Green assoc. No wonder they kicked her out.
    But then again I wouldn’t put it passed Gerry either.

  9. TheDigger said at 5:47 pm on November 10th, 2010:

    Gee, when ethics charges were filed against Sean Byrnes, the nudniks of Neptune completely ignored it. Wonder why?

  10. Dopey Republican said at 6:18 pm on November 10th, 2010:

    @theDigger, to answer your question the so called Neptune nudniks must have seen that the so called “ethics” charge against Byrnes was nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt by Middletown GOPer’s at discrediting Byrnes.

    Byrnes dared to question and vote against the reappointment of long time party faithful Tom Stokes to the Middletown Sewage Authority, where Mr. Stokes collects a $1800 a year stipend with medical benefits and a state pension.

    That’s some violation of ethics if you ask me, watching out for tax payers by voting against those that become “fat” off the hog.

  11. ArtGallagher said at 6:48 pm on November 10th, 2010:

    @ Dopey. You’re wrong about that. I always knew that it was Gerry who initially stuck the Middletown Human Rights Commission on me. The HRC was and is a joke. It was Caliendo and Purcell who really tried to hurt me with The Courier, making a blogger front page news three weeks in a row. That didn’t work out too well for them, did it?

    @Rick. Can I have the deed now? I have information on Byrnes and Mahoney I didn’t use. Including information on Mahoney’s job that she withheld. It wasn’t relevent or necessary.

  12. Rick Ambrosia said at 7:15 pm on November 10th, 2010:

    Art..did she lie when asked what she does for a living? Was she the Mayor looking for re-election after getting a patronage job..and then neglected for months to disclose that..even when asked? Did they withold that information like Scharfy did?

    Unfortunately for you, the house comes with a hefty mortgage….and good luck in this market.

  13. Dopey Republican said at 10:07 pm on November 10th, 2010:


    Please don’t hold back, please tell us the damaging information you had on Byrnes and Mahoney but chose not to use it. It must have been typical BS or else you would have used it against them.

    Don’t try and take the high road now, when you’re so suited to gutter politics.

    As for Caliendo and Purcell I don’t see how you did anything to them that has caused either any true misery.

    Caliendo is still held in high regards throughout Monmouth County and Middletown in Democratic circles for his honesty and integrity, and Purcell lost his job not because of you but because the owners of the Courier were tired of losing money. From what I hear, Purcell is very happy pursuing a PhD in Theology.

    I don’t see how either have been hurt or tarnished by you. I think it is your big ego that has gotten in the way of clear judgment and has driven a lot of the unfair, biased, dishonest and incompetent editorializing you do.

  14. Jeff said at 11:45 pm on November 10th, 2010:

    hmmm, now you’ve got us so excited. Pray tell what info did Mahoney withhold about her top secret job?
    I’m sure if it were some high paid state job she because would have been happy to disclose it.
    You’re so full of BS, I think you’ve become delusional.

  15. ArtGallagher said at 11:49 pm on November 10th, 2010:

    Jeff, I’m not telling. It’s irrelevent as I said. I just want the deed to Rick’s house.

  16. villagegreener said at 7:39 am on November 11th, 2010:

    If Middletown is looking to make some money I think the Township Committee should think about planting some grapes in Lincroft so that they can sell this WHINE!

  17. ArtGallagher said at 8:04 am on November 11th, 2010:

    Oh Rick, I thought you were one of the more responsible Democrats, but there you go placing a bet the next guy will have to pay off.

  18. Joe said at 8:28 am on November 11th, 2010:

    We have come to expect this behavior from them. This is why circulation is down and no one really pays much attention to them. They are not a legitimate paper. A better business plan would be to just label it is a liberal journal – like the print edition of MSNBC – because at least then they’ll be honest with the public. But they bad business people as well so forget that. Hey, what ever happened to the ultimate lib and awful reported Bob Jordan?

  19. I Hate Flippy said at 9:27 am on November 11th, 2010:

    They sent Boob Jordan down to Trenton when it became painfully clear to them that his mole in the county, aka Flippy Dumbico, was gonna be out of a job come January. On the other subject, I agree, Art is not impartial, and Sharfenberger, or whatever his name is, comes off as a scumbag in this one.

  20. midlletown resident said at 10:26 am on November 11th, 2010:

    For the record I’m not a Lincroft resident.

    I believe it’s unacceptable that Gerry Scharfenberger did not make it abundantly clear that he had a full-time position at the state level while running for re-election. If he had made such an admission while campaigning, it wouldn’t have taken very long before the press and voters picked up on the fact that he should not have been running at all pursuant to Christie’s initiative that an individual should not hold two public offices, regardless of whether they are being paid for one position or the other. Whether or not the initiative was formally adopted, based on Mr. Scharfenberger’s frequent praise of the Governor’s policies, he should have been aware (like he thinks everyone else should have been aware of his new appointment) that the Governor was not in favor of dual position holding, and that he would potentially be in violation if it does become policy.

    Even if one attempts to reach to the far limits of “benefit of the doubt,” there is no plausible excuse for Mr. Scharfenberger’s response that his job was archaeologist and adjunct professor, while neglecting to mention a full-time state position. The decision to keep this pertinent piece of information from the voting public is yet another indication of the lack of transparency exhibited by some of our elected officials.

    And one final thought: If he didn’t think the job was important enough to list as one of his professions, how much effort is he devoting to it??? If you have one full-time job, shouldn’t that be at the top of the list when someone asks you what you do?

  21. Steve Borbely said at 10:50 am on November 11th, 2010:

    Art – Sorry, but you deserve the tongue lashing on this subject. Knowing and with-holding the information of Gerry Scharfenberger is politics at its worst. The APPOINTED MAYOR of MIDDLETOWN can now take his rightful place along side of other notorious Middletown APPOINTED MAYORS – Pat Parkinson, Ray O’Grady… I’m wondering if a RECALL is in order!!

  22. TheDigger said at 11:20 am on November 11th, 2010:

    @Dopey Republican

    Gee, if the “so-called” ethics charges against Byrnes were not true, why are the charges still being investigated by the state? They were not thrown out.

    Oh, now we learn that Sean Byrnes has started a new job…why weren’t we told about that during the election (answer – because it wasn’t relevant to his performance as a twp committeeperson)

  23. lori said at 11:56 am on November 11th, 2010:

    It’s fine for a mayor to keep a low profile on being appointed to a high profile state job? What politician wouldn’t broadcast that fact unless he were afraid that it would be damaging politically? This story will grow like a cancer and only Gov. Christie or Mayor Scharfenberger can stop it. Christie doesn’t need this shit.

  24. Chris said at 12:01 pm on November 11th, 2010:

    Oh Art, just wait until they find out you’re not just a fair and biased journalistic crusader, but you were the evil CEO of a leasing company during the campaign.

  25. NeptuneMatters said at 12:04 pm on November 11th, 2010:

    Nothing new from the Press. Bloggers have to do the media’s job. In Neptune, the Press has failed to report on the dangerous relationship between the IBEW 400 Electrical Union and Eric Houghtaling, the POLITICAL DIRECTOR of the same union who was just elected to the Neptune Twp Committee of all places!

  26. lori said at 12:06 pm on November 11th, 2010:

    P.S. The State job has yet to be added to Scharfenberger’s offical bio on Middletown’s website http://www.middletownnj.org/Mayor_Township/scharf.asp
    Transparency, yeah right.

  27. Dopey Republican said at 6:08 pm on November 11th, 2010:

    @ The Digger

    Please Digger tell us the new job Byrnes has started, please,please,please….

    If you are speaking about the him dissolving his old law practice and going into partnership with someone else please tell us what is so damaging about such a revelation?

    And for your information, the ethic charges against Byrnes are not still being investigated, there over from what I’ve been told. Unfortunately for Byrnes however, those charges will be with him for the rest of his working life.

    If it were me, I would have sued for defamation of character, for this and other things that the Middletown pond scum have whispered and them attempted to defame him over, like Fiore sending a letter to residents at Shadow Lake accusing him of lining the pockets of a contractor to spray herbicide to kill lake vegetation when the contractor has had a contract with the Township for over 10 years.

    That’s the type of people running Middletown, people with little or no ethical integrity to speak off. Slander, liable and defame those that oppose them at any and all costs to win.

  28. DopeyDemocrat said at 8:40 pm on November 11th, 2010:

    All the malcontents are coming out of the woodwork. If the Democrats would like to talk about hiding things I bring out a question asked by JJ Sullivan in 2008.

    Has Pat Walsh answered if the money was a loan or a gift yet?

  29. Doubledipper said at 1:43 am on November 13th, 2010:

    @villagegreener-I think the Township Committee already has enough “plants” in Lincroft.

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  33. Brian Sullivan said at 4:03 pm on November 16th, 2010:

    Art, I do not know much about what happens in Middletown, but your title caught my attention. The APP is a junk paper and I have stopped reading it for a lot of reasons. It is amazing the nonsense they will focus on while leaving real stories out. I could tell you a couple of horror stories.

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