Friday, June 22, 2007

The true face of evil updated

Editor's Note: The quoted dialogue is a bit salty.

I've had some fun over Dengre's post referring to Bruce Bateman as evil. At the time, I emailed Dengre and told him Bruce wasn't evil, the real evil was Richard A. Pierce, the well educated man who tries to put a nice face on our labor system as the government's paid garment and wage mouthpiece. He once treated my wife, then a $3.05 contract worker and not yet my wife, like garbage because he was late for his tee time at King Fischer Golf Course. Like most people who make their living convincing the masses it is ok to keep poor people poor, he is apparently quite the misogynist. Don't believe me because I said that, read Richard's words to a female Marianas Variety reporter and tell me I'm wrong.

Strangely, I find myself in agreement with Richard on the drug treatment issue, but that doesn't excuse his behavior. In short, our government paid mouthpiece referred to Variety reporter Gemma Casas as a "whore, liar and cunt." The word trash was also thrown in, but that was probably more a reference to his view of her work, not her personally, but who knows with all the rest. This issue was later written about in the Saipan Tribune, as well as the Marianas Variety. Boni weighed in, as did Saipan Glen.

People I respect and like such as Harry Blalock and Brad Ruszala came to Richard's defense, not defending his words, but saying they think the Variety has done some unsavory things in the past using off the record information. See the comments section for their full thoughts. Brad questioned the lack of Gemma's email in the exchange. I've added that.

This is the story that set Richard off. She also wrote this one. Richard blasted the Variety after that first story came out. As I see it, Gemma was quoting something that was said in the House, which she would be in her right to quote. The ethics of Stanley Torres saying that can be questioned, but one can also note that Richard is a public figure doing an extremely dirty job in an extremely dirty business. This is what Stanley Torres said, and he probably shouldn't have said that, even to a guy like Pierce:

During a House session on May 29, Torres, in a privileged speech,
criticized Pierce
.“Mr. Pierce wants us to believe that drug test results are
meaningless and that the Legislature shouldn’t be given the results. Maybe Mr.
Pierce’s fuzzy thinking is a product of his own reported drug abuse in the past
and that his apparent two visits to Hazelton drug rehab haven’t really impressed
him about the need for honesty in revealing one’s drug abuse when necessary,”
said Torres.

My understanding is that Gemma asked Richard if what Stanley said was true. According to Gemma, "I didn't use our telephone conversation in the story. I purely based the story on what were on the documents. He's probably using the off-the record argument to discredit me, but his emails speak a volume about his character."

It appears to me that Gemma didn't use a lot of information she probably had, but used the information and documentation Stanley offered in the public session. Richard also initated the email exchange, according to Gemma, and her lone retort to his "what a whore you are" comment was "Thank you but maybe you are referring to yourself. Have a nice day!"

Here is Richard's email in full:

Subject:Re: Fwd: Fwd: Re: Stan's letter

No, I'm the one that doesn't compromise myself everyday by
being a liar. I stand behind my convictions, and do not lie
through my teeth like you. You deceitfully took an off the
record comment I confided about my personal life for
verification before you lied again and printed some crap that I
could care less about.

You are complicit in acts that keep the people that need help
from getting it. All for a sleezy piece of work. What a piece
of trash. Do you not understand that it's exactly what the
fucked up people like Stan Torres say that stop people from
being strong enough to go get help. His stigmatization of drug
abuse as an immoral and indecent personal characteristic keeps
those that need help from coming and asking for it in the macho
piece of shit world people like you live in. All so you can say something
scandaless. What a whore you are.

Here is Gemma's retort:
Thank you but maybe you are referring to yourself. Have a nice day!

Here is Richard's follow up:

Subject: Re: Stan's letter

Obviously, dishonesty plays a vital role in the vile work you (do) at the Variety. I was wrong about you. You are a liar and a cunt.

This is the man the government sends to Washington to fight to keep our meager minimum wage meager. He is the apologist for the garment industry; A man who has made quite a nickel as the Nick Naylor of the local sweatshops. Quite the gentleman.


Arin said...

wait - what?

bob said...

I am not surprise aboutt his attitute, One has to have the personality of a nazi death camp commandant in order to stay on the job that he has now.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Jeff, in the future could you try to tell us how you really feel about Richard?

bradinthesand said...

Jeff, baby, I love ya, but as John Peoples used to say, there are two sides to every pancake. Last thing I wanna do is play the Devil's Advocate (especially because it's an unpaid position), but where's the other half of the email?

For one, I think his use of the word "whore" referred to the reporter's style of information gathering. I've got nothing for the "cunt" part though, unless he also resides in Australia, where the word is used in quite a different way.

So I'm guessing this email was forwarded to a bunch of people from the reporter to get the word out on her biggest fan. Is that right? If so, where's the rest of the email. Pierce was obviously replying to her so I think it's only fair to read what she said.

Could it be that she, in some way, riled him up? I don't care of the guy lost his cool and was terrible about the whole thin because I don't know him. I'm just looking at the bigger picture.

I know how some of the folks in the fish wrap making factory in the blue building operate and to say that they lack professionalism would be an understatement. It has nothing to do with the fact that I work in an adjacent building that houses their competition.

But truth be told, some of their writers are trash, or rather, the product they produce is. And that's not to say that everything I crank out heads straight to Pulitzerville either.

It does go to what I wrote for your blogging story--the same part that Zaldy edited out.

It was nice to see it in its entirety on your blog though.

(For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, the part that was changed was contained in this, my 15 minutes of fame:

“Brad Ruszala, a sportswriter and general sports enthusiast, professes great love for his adopted hometown of Saipan, and posts mostly about sports and daily life. He enjoys the different perspective blogging allows. ‘Too many negative stories about our islands come out in the local and international press. For some, that's the only way of getting information. I am the only reporter in the CNMI who is an American citizen. I have a real stake in the future of this place and I know that there is plenty more to read about then the evaporating garment industry, the ridiculous utilities firm and the soap opera politicking on the hill.’

Ruszala also likes the democracy and different perspectives blogging allows. ‘The multimillion dollar foreign owned corporations and the overpaid politicians have lost touch with the regular people, so it's time that the regular folks like me speak up. I'm not here to change the world, but I am here to say that it's a lot different down here where I am.’”

Apparently, Zaldy thought “I am the only reporter in the CNMI who is an American citizen” when followed with “I have a real stake in the future of this place and I know that there is plenty more to read about than the evaporating garment industry, the ridiculous utilities firm and the soap opera politicking on the hill,” was too much of an implication of his staff.

If the shoe fits…

It’s called responsibility in reporting. I think there’s definitely been a lack of it from a couple of their reporters in certain instances.

All of this said, I still think that Pierce shouldn’t have opted for email as his medium of choice for his hateful rant, but the corresponding emails from the recipient should be included here.

Just my thoughts oh wise one.

PS-I wanna dive next time. Looks like you guys had fun.

Jeff said...

I don't have any other part, but does it matter. Do you go around saying things like that to women under any circumstance? I mildly followed that controversy, and I don't even know what the big deal was. I think the Tribune is much more fair than I would expect, but if one were to survive, I'd rather see the Variety since I find it more critical, which I want in a newspaper.

bradinthesand said...

As for the papers: Critical is great. Irresponsible is not.

There's a whole lotta irresponsible over there, and I know first hand. There’s also a lot of terrible writing based on incomplete work and poor research. It makes me sick to read it, but we’ve got some of that non-flow, bullet point style of writing on our end as well.

Stories wholly based upon press releases suck to. I mean, people, would it kill you to make a follow-up call for crying out loud? Man, rewording a press release might be an easy way to fill a quota but for some of these clowns it’s a way of life (ranting?).

As for the war of words:

I like to think that I hold myself to a higher standard, so no, I don't go around saying things like that to women.

But, in this day and age of equality, I don't know if that argument applies anymore—to everyone else, not me. I'm still a charmer ;) I consider women as equals, I open doors, and I am polite—pretty much to everyone actually.

But now that I think of it, I don't know that women are due any additional courtesy at the workplace than their male counterparts for the mere fact of possessing a matching set of X chromosomes.

If Pierce and the nameless reporter were trading blows, I say it's okay to let them fly (no, not in the physical sense). While he certainly came across as crass (or more like an ass), who knows what was said on the other end. Women can say bad things just the same as men can. It’s only fair to show both sides of the argument.

So I have another question:

How did you only get half of the email?

Was that all that was sent via mass mailing from the offended party? Now that would be irresponsible stuff.

For all I know, the other half of the email could have been full of “Sir Richard, would you be so kind as to provide me with some answer to my questions...” but I’m not sure. In order to make a fair judgment, I need the whole story. And it has to be presented that way before I just open up a rant on some guy.

What you did was forward half of the story without seeing the other half. There’s nothing to worry about because you don’t like him anyway (does anyone who hasn’t made a fortune because of him?), so you don’t have to be fair.

If you saw the other half of the email and chose to delete it just to get to the meat, that’s something else altogether. As you said, that’s not the case.

Anyway, back to the Pierce V. Women thing:

I wouldn't want anyone to say anything similar to Pierce's rant, to my mother, but that's because she's my mother. For that matter, I wouldn't want anyone to say anything like that to anyone I love.

I really don’t think that argument works anymore (again, to me it does, but I don’t think anyone else has to treat women any better than men in the office place. That’s what equality is all about. Besides, if the other guys end up looking like creeps, it just makes the rest of us look better).

Would there have been as much of an uproar if Pierce was bagging on that terrible writer (oh, I was going to put his initials here but better judgment won out)? I doubt it, but again, he's bad. (Like, all across the board bad.)

One more thing about the papers:

As far as the Variety and the Tribune go, I'm not a slave to either. When I came to Saipan I bought both just to laugh at the writing and for the crosswords. I still like the way the Variety lays the crosswords out on the page better.
It just fits right when you fold it in half (I'm so laughing out loud now).

Back to you and me:

You da man! Let’s go get a barley pop tonight. You up to it?

BoReGo said...

Yikes, I just read Glen's post too. I guess you never know what kind of people lie behind glossy smiles. That's some serious potty mouth right there. He needs a toothbrush and a bar of soap. Irish Spring? Zest?

Jeff said...

The bizarre thing is, as I said in my post, Richard is right on the drug issue, and if he left it at that, he would have won the argument. He didn't, so I agree with Boni's secret post, as I said.

Brad, even if you believe women don't deserve any extra respect as they're equal and all, which I don't really agree with, they are the life givers and all, there is no need to go that route and say that type of thing.

As for the Variety, I agree they leave something to be desired on the research end, but I have not seen them do anything especially unfair or irresponsible. What do you refer to on that front in particular?

BoReGo said...

My secret post:) I like Gemma a lot, I think I can say her name right? I just read the Tribune, so it's already public knowledge. Gemma has always been nice to me, and I don't know Mr. Peirce at all, but we all freak out when we're mad right? Him and Alec Baldwin should go bowling.

Jeff said...

One other thing, "what a whore you are" and "you are a liar and a cunt" especially to a woman, aren't references to work, they are references to a person, and we all know "cunt" is a nuclear option.

Jeff said...

I've been in a number of public disputes in my day, and never once did that option occur to me, Boni. He was mad, and we say things when we're mad doesn't seem like a proper justification to me.

It seems like this issue is lining up with people who like the Variety and people who don't. I've made it clear already I like the Variety for the most part, and am not such a Pierce fan.

BoReGo said...

I don't think being vile should ever be an option, you're absolutely right.

Saipan Writer said...

Another woman weighing in on this.

1. I've been around the CNMI for a long time and Richard Pierce is one of those men I dislike from a distance. In the old days, the island was smaller, though, so I sort of know him, at least to acknowledge him in person, to remember some of his personal struggles that humanize him, should make him more likeable, but don't. I just strongly disagree with his politics about the garment factories.

2. All that said, I wouldn't fire him for these e-mails. I'm not even outraged or disgusted with them. In the scheme of things, they seem pretty, well, mild.

"Whore" is a perfectly acceptable word to use to mean trading off one's ethics for some material gain. Saying the reporter acted as a whore when she was dishonest in having a conversation off the record all to gain a story angle sounds like the word is used correctly.

Sort of like Richard himself, who's been called a whore for the garment industry. I'm sure he's familiar with the meaning of the word.

3. Using cunt is offensive, misogynist and stupid. Richard has a good argument in favor of his drug policy. He knows it. (Like you, Jeff, I agree with it.) He could argue more persuasively without cheapening his position with epithets that belong only in the gutter.

But professional women do have to learn to deal with men who will try to bully with bad language. We're not delicate flowers. Shining a light on his language is one way to deal. So Gemma is showing strength here, too.

And Richard (and other bullies) will have to learn to play nice.

4. And now for some (more) unpopular comments--Brad, I don't see that you being the "only American" reporter in the CNMI means much, that you're better than the other reporters. When I read the excised portion in Jeff's article, that statement stuck out and hit me the wrong way. That statement, although delivered as a fact, is an irrelevant fact unless you're being racist, unless you're saying American citizens have real interests in the community and non-citizens don't. I don't agree with that connotation. I find it offensive, and I'm not a Filippino reporter for the Variety.

In a different context, the statement can mean you have a different perspective just because you are different than the other reporters, that having a different perspective makes you worth reading, and that would be a valuable point. But as written, it doesn't seem intended for that purpose, and as writtern, it's inflammatory-- not related to reporters, but related to the underlying racist tension it connects to.

And even though the statement is factually true, and your perspective is valuable because it's different, it does NOT mean that you speak for all Americans, any more than Zaldy speaks for all Filippinos, etc. (I'm sure you know that and aren't trying to speak for everybody, just yourself.)

No one likes to be edited out of a story. I sympathize with you there. But I don't think Zaldy's decision to do it is indefensible, makes the Variety staff unprofessional, or makes the Tribune a better paper.

5. We could all improve our professionalism. It's never a done deal. We need to work on it on a daily basis. And I say that, as it applies to me, and every other professional in whatever profession. So I totally agree that there's room for improvement in the professionalism department at the Variety (and at the Tribune, and everywhere).

Enough fodder for more comments, Jeff?

Harry Blalock said...

I'm not going to try and justify Richard's choice of words, or the intent or attitude behind them. And I'm not going to play on the Variety vs. Tribune aspect of this either.

I believe that what Gemma did was completely unprofessional and a total breach of ethics. She contacted Richard and asked for some information, and she assured him it would all be completely off the record. But then the next day, she took all the things he told her off the record and put them in her story in the newspaper. She blatantly lied to him and then stabbed him in the back. This is not the way a responsible reporter acts, and no responsible media outlet would continue employing someone who engages in such tactics.

That's what started this whole thing. I believe that Richard's e-mail was meant to be a personal venting over what he felt was a complete betrayal. I do not condone his choice of words, but I can certainly understand his frustration. And Gemma showed her complete lack of class by once again making something public that was never intended to be public. At least she's consistent in her methods and ethics.

If you want to vilify Richard for his choice of words, that's fine, but you should also vilify the villain who is responsible for starting this whole mess in the first place, Gemma Casas.

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

And if he said what you just said Harry, he'd be a far more sympathetic figure. Instead, he comes off like a misogynist, a barbarian and an embarassment to his family and the CNMI.

My understanding, however, is that she had the information from other sources and asked him if it was true for confirmation.

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

For Brad's edification, according to Gemma, Pierce initiated the email, this is the extent of what she said to him after his first email and the, "what a whore you are" comment:

Thank you but maybe you are referring to yourself.
>Have a nice day!

Zaldy thinks Pierce is flipping out because Pierce was the star witness on that silly libel case against the Variety that went up in smoke.

dengre said...

Richard Pierce is a key player in the CNMI story. His words in these emails just show a glimpse of his character and his heart of darkness.

He is a pirate. In a just society he would have been indicted years ago. In our society he gets to visit Washington DC to speak on behalf of the status quo running the CNMI into the ground.

His potty mouth would be the most innocent side of his character.


Anonymous said...

"In a just society he would have been indicted years ago."

Indicted for what?

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

I think Brad was referring to the fact that all contract workers eventually go back to their homes and that as an American he is legally allowed to stay here for the rest of his life.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

For being a pirate, duh.


Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

I know Brad Ruszala. Brad Ruszala is a friend of mine. You, Saipan Writer, are not Jolibee's Male Playmate of the Month.

Seriously, Brad doesn't have a racist bone in his body.

bradinthesand said...

“I don't see that you being the ‘only American’ reporter in the CNMI means much, that you're better than the other reporters. When I read the excised portion in Jeff's article, that statement stuck out and hit me the wrong way. That statement, although delivered as a fact, is an irrelevant fact unless you're being racist, unless you're saying American citizens have real interests in the community and non-citizens don't. I don't agree with that connotation. I find it offensive, and I'm not a Filipino reporter for the Variety.”

When did “American” become a race?

I always get a kick out of the news from the mainland when people jump to label someone as a racist incorrectly.

What I meant was that I have chosen to make the CNMI my permanent home, and I am the only reporter writing for either of the papers who has done so. The other folks haven’t because they aren’t able to, and it’s not because of their skin color. It’s based on their nationality, not their ethnicity—there is a difference. There are plenty of people residing in the CNMI who are US citizens of Filipino descent—they just aren’t reporters.

While the CNMI isn’t willing to welcome my guest worker colleagues for a longer stay than a year at a time, I believe that I have a greater stake in what happens here because I won’t be folding up my tent and going home when my contract is up.

That’s why I feel compelled to have a higher level of responsibility in reporting because this is MY community and not one in which I am just visiting while working overseas.

That’s not an indictment of someone’s racial inferiority from a hate monger, that’s the state of the Commonwealth’s policy on guest workers from someone who with romantic ties to Filipinos (Sounds so elusive. What are you saying here Brad?), learned to sing a beautiful song in Tagalog (even if I butcher it), and speak a fair bit of the language to help me better communicate with some of my friends.

“But as written, it doesn't seem intended for that purpose, and as written, it's inflammatory—not related to reporters, but related to the underlying racist tension it connects to.”

I’ve been working with reporters from other countries for the past few years. I know the big time lives that some of them used to live back home when working for “real papers” and I know what (at least for the Tribune) they plan to do in the coming years. Leaving the CNMI is always an option for them, an option I’ve opted out of about five years ago.

This is the kind of multicultural place where I want to lay down roots and raise my family. I’m no better than anyone based on skin color and I’ve never put myself forth in that manner.

And to be clear, I wasn’t speaking for all Americans, and it wasn’t written that way at all. With a few exceptions, I try to be careful about what I say here because I don’t want to be the younger and poorer Richard Pierce in the next blog update.

As far as the Trib V. Variety thing goes:

I haven’t picked up the Tribune banner and waved it from atop my Parisian barricade because it would come off as something akin to “My Dad can beat up your Dad.” I mocked our paper just the same and wasn’t looking for a comparison. When it comes time to bash the Tribune I’ll be the first to get my knuckles smacked with the ruler.

Looking back at it, a lot of my rant about reporting was directed to all of us in the trade, myself included. I’m well aware that I won’t be up for any literary awards, well, not for any positive ones anyway ;) I mean, look at my use of “to” in “Stories wholly based upon press releases suck to.” What a joke that was. I was both sick and laughing when I saw it after I let it fly (I would have fixed it too, but then there would have been the whole “Comment deleted by author” tag). Nothing worse than having grammatical errors in a rant about writing. I suck so bad.

Oh, and I wasn’t linking Zaldy’s editorial decision to my statements of the Variety’s staff.

On a personal note:

I know I turned you off a while back during a previous exchange but I hope your misconceptions about me aren’t too deeply ingrained. I appreciate your opinions and deserve a good reality check once in a while (more like most of the time).