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655 Washington St.
Ashland, OR 97520
(541) 201-0090

Wal-Mart Journalism?

There were a number of errors and unfair characterizations in your March 11 story about me and my publication’s recent move to Ashland. Small town newspapers have tremendous influence on local affairs, especially in a one-paper town. Whether intentional, inadvertent, or disingenuous, these errors can cause lasting harm to a citizen’s standing in his or her community. I know, because I am an editor myself.

When the subject of a story is a new member of the community, first impressions are difficult to overcome. Ashland does not want or need to have an image of parochialism or special-interest dominance, especially when the special interests involved are in New York City. That the Daily Tidings as well as Medford’s Mail Tribune are owned by Dow Jones & Co. (through its subsidiary Ottoway) whose flagship paper is The Wall Street Journal, raises many issues. My publication has blisteringly criticized corporate-owned media (including the Journal) for protecting corporate interests ahead of its readers for years.

Wal-Mart is rightly criticized for entering small towns, under-pricing local merchants, eliminating jobs and equity and then shipping the profits back to Arkansas. Does it also happen with journalism? It’s a fair question. Is it wise to have a major corporation controlling and owning the only two local papers? From the Wilderness is no direct competition for the Tidings but we are in direct competition (for analysis) with the Wall Street Journal.

Here are my objections and corrections to the story by Bob Plain:

-- In describing my discovery that the CIA was actively involved in importing drugs into the United States Bob plain wrote: “Rather than becoming a paid government drug dealer, he says, he ratted on them. This led to not only his disgrace on the force but also several attempts on his life.”

The use of the word “disgrace” is insulting and unfair. I showed Mr. Plain that the entirety of my LAPD record (which included assignments in narcotics and detectives) is not only spotless, but marked with the highest-possible rating reports, 13 citations for bravery and tactics and four commendations. None of that was mentioned, leaving readers with the impression that I was a uniformed street cop who was guilty of some vague misconduct. All of my LAPD records are posted on our web site at and I showed Bob Plain where to read them. I have never felt or earned any disgrace.

-- Many aspects of my company’s history were selectively omitted from your story. FTW is read by 60 members of congress (from both parties) and in more than 40 countries. Our subscribers include professors at more than 50 universities around the world. I have lectured in nine countries and at a minimum of 20 universities The Tidings report seems to suggest that I publish a little throwaway conspiracy newsletter.

-- In quoting me about my book, Crossing the Rubicon: the Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil, Bob Plain wrote “To date, no one in the government or mainstream media has been able to refute my research.” That is an accurate quote. But then he wrote, “The last statement, at the very least, is untrue.” In order to support an allegation that I lied he then cited a 2002 non-fact-based critique of a single article I wrote two years before my book was ever published. In other words, I was correct and there is no known credible refutation of the research in my book anywhere. That’s why a thousand footnotes were included in my book.

There are other subtle nuances of distortion in the article with which I take exception. The term “far-fetched” in the headline slug is also misleading. If the work of FTW is so far-fetched then why was I summoned to Washington, D.C. last summer to act as an official questioner in a House hearing sponsored by the Honorable Cynthia McKinney (D, GA)? Why did Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R, MD) invite me to his office to discuss Peak Oil just before he, in turn, briefed the President?

Disgraced ex-cops, with far-fetched stories, who do sloppy research don’t get to do such things. FTW’s stories have been picked up by the AP and other major news organizations. I’ll be spending the rest of my life in Ashland and the Rogue Valley; dedicated to becoming a trusted citizen and to making Oregon a better place to live. I have hired three people locally and plan on hiring more. One thing everyone can be sure of is that almost every penny of FTW’s profits will be spent here and shared with the people who have otherwise so warmly welcomed us to Ashland.

If you look at FTW’s web site today, you will see that in a recent interview I misquoted Hollywood producer Aaron Russo. What did I do about it? I published a correction and apology the next day. I don’t expect the Tidings to do that, but we will see if Dow Jones and Ottaway really believe in free speech by publishing this letter. I’ll be publishing it on my web site as well. Checks and balances.

From a local Ashland resident to a New York-owned newspaper, I am

Sincerely yours,

Michael C. Ruppert

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