Showdown at the Press editorial board!

By Dan Jacobson, also published in the October 13th edition of the triCityNews

So I’m running as an Independent for the state Assembly. And there’s been one campaign appearance I’ve been anticipating above all others.

The interview with the Asbury Park Press editorial board for their endorsement!

Yup, for almost 13 years I’ve been trashing that paper for their hypocrisy, moving out of Asbury Park…you name it. So fireworks were expected.

The interview took place earlier this week. All the candidates for both state Assembly and Senate in the 11th District were there.

I don’t know who threw the first projectile. Maybe it was me. Maybe it wasn’t.

But I can swear to this: It wasn’t me who threw the chair. Fortunately, Senator Jennifer Beck is one hell of an athlete. She dove out of her seat like a third baseman snagging a line-drive to deflect the thing before it went crashing through the floor-to-ceiling window on one side of the conference room.

OK, OK. None of that happened. Dammit! You bet I’m disappointed it didn’t go down that way. I always envisioned the flying chair, the shouting. Denying I threw the first projectile. It would have been great.

But it was not to be.  Actually, it was quite a sedate affair. The seven candidates for Senate and Assembly only faced Press Editorial Page Editor Randy Bergmann and editorial writer Michael Riley. That’s it. Veteran reporter Larry Higgs was there to report on the discussions.

Bergmann is a surprisingly low-key guy, given how his paper’s editorials regularly infuriate me for their hypocrisy. Yeah, he was gracious. Big deal. I wanted fireworks.

As for Michael Riley, I know I blasted the shit out of him about ten years ago for some column he wrote. I’m sure he forgot about it – hell, I can’t even remember it at this point. So he was quite friendly. Screw him!

In addition, former Press food critic Andrea Clurfeld is now an editorial writer and board member. I’d been brutal with her in the past – for justifiable reason – about her food reviews. Never met her. Would have loved it. But she wasn’t there! I should have walked out right then.

Adding to the sedation is that the other candidates themselves are all very gracious and intelligent people. In fact, I like my opponents. It’s the whole Goddamn system that’s pissing me off. That’s what I’m running against.

(I face Republican Assembly incumbents Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande, as well as Democrats Vin Gopal and Kathy Horgan. There are two Assembly seats. Beck is running in a separate race for Senate against Democrat Ray Santiago.)

I did have one interesting observation at the editorial board, however. Way back in 1986, I worked as a reporter for about a year at the now defunct Daily Register in Shrewsbury. And I’ve always loved old newspapers and newsrooms – like the one in the old Asbury Park Press building in downtown Asbury.

Journalists have always been characters. The old newsrooms and buildings matched them perfectly. So I mean this as a compliment: Looking across the table at journalistic veterans Bergmann, Riley and Higgs reminded me of those old-time newspaper characters. There aren’t enough around like them anymore. Hypocritical editorials or not.

And as much as I welcome the demise of the Asbury Park Press – because they’ve been such a destructive force in our region – there was something poignant about seeing these three guys in that quiet and sullen building. It’s a metaphor for the whole newspaper industry.

That Asbury Park Press newsroom was opened back in 1985 when they moved out to Neptune. That was the advent of a long-ago era, just as newspapers were transitioning into soulless corporate cultures at full gale. The ensuing corporate conformity, and of course the internet, would decimate journalism as we know it – and the excitement and character that came with it.

I thought back to the first editorial board meeting I attended in that same conference room. It was 26 years ago – when the building had just opened. It was my first run for the Assembly at the age of 23. (I lost that one, but won the seat four years later and served a term.)

Back then, the paper was locally owned by Don Lass and Jules Plangere, who both ran the place. Present at that long ago meeting in 1985 were the four candidates for the two Assembly seats, as well as a room full of editors. Must have been about seven other people there, including several senior editors. Plus the reporter specifically assigned to the race. (That practice of assigning a reporter to each legislative race went by the wayside years ago.)

I remember tons of energy in that brand new state-of-the-art newsroom. And a brisk and confident manner of all the editors in the editorial board meeting. They knew they were a force in the community, and they didn’t have to answer to anyone else. The future was exceptionally bright in their gleaming new suburban headquarters 26 years ago – they had moved far beyond their beautiful little building in downtown Asbury Park, the then struggling city of their birth they had just abandoned.

Of course, the Plangere and Lass families sold the paper to the Gannett corporation at the right time well over a decade ago. Today, Gannett papers are sucking wind, collapsing as advertising revenue and circulation plummet. The Asbury Park Press is no exception. It’s a joke.

And those at the Press – including the three journalistic vets sitting across from me earlier this week – answer to much higher, and much more remote, authority. Specifically, Gannett corporate headquarters down in Virginia. Who in turn answer to Wall Street analysts and the stock market.

That’s a big difference from answering to the two owners who had their offices down the hall. When slow economic times came, those owners could hold off on cutting people. They had no fear of Wall Street analysts and earnings reports. They owned the place. And they could invest in the journalism however they wished. It was their money.

In the end, I still hate the Asbury Park Press. But I’m more than ever convinced that it’s the corporate takeover of journalism that’s responsible. Gannett doesn’t give a shit about those three guys who sat across from me in the editorial board meeting – they’d lay them off in an instant if that’s what it took to satisfy Wall Street. That’s the system, man.

At this point, working for the Press is like working for a pharmaceutical or insurance company. And Bergmann, Riley and Higgs are definitely not corporate cogs by nature. They’re clearly journalists. Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don’t know how they do it. I couldn’t. 

In the end, I’ve got to say that Press writer Larry Higgs was more than fair with the story. I actually saw the words “triCityNews” on the front page of the Asbury Park Press for the first time ever. They had to say what I did. That was fun.

Now if they’d just endorse me. Not that it makes that much difference with the voters. Who cares what the Press says?

It only makes a difference to me – I’d have a ball with the headline in this paper! And I could have a field day mocking myself in the process. Hey, I’m not exempt from taking hits in this paper – even from myself.

Don’t expect an endorsement though. That’s asking way too much of these hypocrites.

(The 11th District where I’m running includes: Asbury Park, Long Branch, Red Bank, Ocean Township, Neptune, Neptune City, Interlaken, Deal, Allenhurst, Loch Arbour, West Long Branch, Eatontown, Shrewsbury Borough, Shrewsbury Township, Tinton Falls, Colts Neck, Freehold Township and Freehold Borough.)

Posted: October 13th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Asbury Park Press | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

22 Comments on “Showdown at the Press editorial board!”

  1. Justified Right said at 11:25 am on October 13th, 2011:

    If Dan wanted that fight he was the guy that should have picked it. Instead, the guy that wants to be the opposite of the usual candidate acted like a usual candidate.

    Kitten, Kitten, Kitten.

    His biggest mistake has been not taking campaign advice from me.

    I would have had him grab Randy Bergmann by the tie while making a point, for no other reason than I’ve always wanted to grab Randy Bergmann by the tie to make a point.

    I would have had that picture sent out everywhere, and Dan would get free press because all the other papers would have covered it. That’s how a candidate with no money gets his name known.

    I would have brought a picture of Hollis Towns and stapled it to the columns he has written calling Tea Partiers racists based on nothing more than the color of their skin, proof positive that the election of Obama has given rise to more false allegations of racism than Sharpton and Brawley. Top executives at Gannett are the most guilty (Hollis is the Exec Ed).

    I would have had Dan staple it to their conference room wall. That too would get covered by other media.

    As for Mike Riley – I wrote about that weirdo too. He is their religion columnist (he is some sort of minister) but I did a study of his Internet published work and he talks about sex in his columns about 25% of the time.

    Creepy Creepy Creepy.

    I would have had Dan bring a sex therapist to offer Riley some help.

  2. Freespeaker1976 said at 11:38 am on October 13th, 2011:


    Blah, Blah, Blah, Yada, Yada, Yada

    Blah, Blah, Blah, Yada, Yada, Yada

    Blah, Blah, Blah, Yada, Yada, Yada

    Just more “self satisfying tripe” from a candidate going nowhere. You’re nothing more than a “John Huntsman.”

  3. Rick Ambrosia said at 12:10 pm on October 13th, 2011:

    Funny article Dan…thanks for the observations….


    Nasty, Nasty, Nasty, Coward, Coward, Coward
    Nasty, Nasty, Nasty, Coward, Coward, Coward
    Nasty, Nasty, Nasty, Coward, Coward, Coward

    Let me ask you this Freeloader…have you ever put yourself out there in the public eye to take a beating? I would bet not. You just take handouts…and bash others anonymously from behind your keyboard that try and change the system. I’m almost feeling sorry for you…but not quite yet.

  4. Barry Goldwater said at 12:25 pm on October 13th, 2011:

    So, Dan “Kitten” Jacobsen not only avoids fireworks, he then writes a suck-up column to the very people he has spent the last ten years bashing. Oh wait, I forgot, he didn’t mean it, he really was bashing corporate America. (Where’s your tent in Zucotti Park, Dan?)

    The Editorial Board and this column prove it:

    Dan “Hypocritical Kitten” Jacobsen is a typical politician.

  5. Jason Smith said at 12:37 pm on October 13th, 2011:

    Dan, i think i see a pussy? How ironic for all the comments you’ve shouted for years, and now its circkets.

  6. Seamus McMahon said at 1:21 pm on October 13th, 2011:

    I was fortunate enough to have met Reverend Michael Riley a few times. He is a good man. He is also a modest man. He does many charitable things for the community that very people know about.

  7. Justified Right said at 2:30 pm on October 13th, 2011:

    Seamus Rev. Riley isn’t even a good reverend.

    Read his column about his 5 tatoos:


    When you are done, go read Leviticus 19:28.

    Fail, Riley. Fail.

  8. Seamus McMahon said at 3:10 pm on October 13th, 2011:

    Tommy, would that be the same Leviticus that says that it is okay to buy slaves?

    Leviticus 25:44

  9. Justified Right said at 5:17 pm on October 13th, 2011:

    Yes, the very same one.

  10. Proud Republican said at 5:25 pm on October 13th, 2011:

    Who in their right mind, would cast a vote for this loon?

  11. Seamus McMahon said at 5:42 pm on October 13th, 2011:

    I see. Getting a tattoo is wrong but buying slaves is okay. Thanks for clearing that up for us, Tommy.

    Leviticus 19:28

    Leviticus 25:44

  12. TR said at 9:43 pm on October 13th, 2011:

    Actually there are two types of prohibitions in the Bible. Cultural and Moral. The cultural ones where prevent the Israelites from assimilating with the pagan people who surrounded them. They often prohibited things that were part of pagan rituals. Tatoos were often connected with pagan rituals. The moral prohibitions were against things such as rape and murder.
    The Bible never actually said it was OK to buy slaves. It does regulate it in many cases. In this case I read it as a prohibition against enslaving your own people. obviously this raises the difficult question as to why the Bible does not just prohibit slavery but that would be a very long discussion that may not be dispositive. Any way my point is the Bible does not prohibit us from getting Tatoos as the cultural prohibitions where removed by Jesus and the teachings of Jesus have led us to understand that slavery is not permissable today.

    THE REAL STORY HEAR is that Riley and Curfield are in on making editorial decisions. Have you read these people. My Goodness I am very frightened!
    It’s agood thing nobody actually pays attention to the APP endorsements

  13. Freespeaker1976 said at 7:22 am on October 14th, 2011:

    Proud Republican,

    I figure he’s got about 90 votes between Ocean Grove, Asbury Park & Long Branch; plus maybe another 200 or so from the extremely gullible section of the voter population

  14. Bob English said at 7:48 am on October 14th, 2011:

    Even if you don’t agree with Dan all of the time, his stuff is definitly interesting to read.

  15. Justified Right said at 7:54 am on October 14th, 2011:


    You have to brush up on old and new covenants.

    Slavery is out. So is the prohibition on eating shellfish.

    I don’t know of anywhere in the New Testament that reverses the prohibition on tatoos, but I’m willing to learn if you can point it out to me.

  16. Bible Study said at 8:13 am on October 14th, 2011:

    “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly. “Levitiucs 25:44-46

    “And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.”Exodus 21:7

    “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property. “Exodus 21:20-21

    “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.”Ephesians 6:5

    “All slaves should show full respect for their masters so they will not bring shame on the name of God and his teaching. If the masters are believers, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. Those slaves should work all the harder because their efforts are helping other believers who are well loved.”1 Timothy 6:1-2

    “Do you read the Bible, Brad?” (Scene from Pulp Fiction)

  17. Disgusted said at 12:37 pm on October 14th, 2011:

    @ Seamus McMahon & Bible Study,

    Any high school history student knows The Bible isn’t meant to be read literally in modern times.

    Your comments here are nothing more than a simple-minded attack on Jewish & Christian based religions, in an effort to demean them and paint them as racist.


    Just another example of the far left’s lack of religious tolerance.

  18. TR said at 12:57 pm on October 14th, 2011:

    Tommy, The implication from a number of stories in the Acts of the Apostles is that the cultural rules no longer apply. That is why you do not have towear curly losks and be circumcised.
    Disgusted, while I would agree that many portions of the bible do not need to be read as literal to have meaning (something many of my co-relgionists disagree with btw) that would not be a good argument to apply to the moral lessons of the bible. I would agree that the bibles discussion of slavery is difficult to account for. However as I pointed out the Old Testament clauses actually give slaves rights they did not have before. As to the New testament clauses they must be read in a broader context. I would point out nowhere does it say it is good or even OK to own slaves.
    Amazing how Dans story on the APP editorial board morphed into a theological discussion about the Bible, tatoos and Slavery. Very amusing

  19. Bible Study said at 1:49 pm on October 14th, 2011:

    “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism. Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.”Colossians 3:22-4:1

    “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”1 Peter 2:18-21

  20. James Hogan said at 2:19 pm on October 14th, 2011:

    Leave it to Republicans to screw up a chance to really beat up the other side and instead talk religion. 🙁

    I fear this is what is going to happen *WHEN* Romney is the Republican candidate for President. Instead of beating up Obama for all of the good reasons he deserves to be beat up for, my cohorts will be having a religious debate about Mormons, and Obama will just have to point at these “religious fanatics on the right” and laugh his way to victory.

    PS – The Asbury Park Press is the Worst Newspaper Ever and I think Dan does a great job of poking fun at the staff there, but I’m still not voting for Dan.

  21. TR said at 6:53 pm on October 14th, 2011:

    James, discussing religion is much more important then discussing politics.

    For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
    Mark 8:36

  22. Freespeaker said at 7:28 pm on October 14th, 2011:

    Hush Mr. Hogan 🙂

    Have some faith will ya that Romney and the Establishment fails to prevail?