Category: Editorial

The Media Merchants of Indian River Lost This Election

September 9th, 2022

Editor's Note: Indian River News is not responsible for the contents of this Editorial. The author has agreed to assume all responsibility for its' contents.

Certain journalists in our quaint little county find themselves in disbelief as they analyze the primary election results. At 32963, Ray McNulty is literally miffed by Jackie Rosario’s performance where he remarked in the 9/1 edition, “Rosario received a better-than expected 46.8 percent of the vote in a four candidate race….” Matter of fact, McNulty was rather stupefied and went on to claim, “It was DeSantis’ endorsement that enabled Rosario to overcome an avalanche of negative press she received during the final weeks of the campaign.”

Final weeks? Try the last year while he created the “avalanche” with the help of folks like Michael Marsh, who falsely accused Rosario of the misuse of school resources, and Brian Barefoot, ever ready with negative quotes from the board. Yet, what is really disturbing about this statement is that McNulty thinks the press’s position is to anoint election winners with their coverage.

Barefoot’s campaign against Rosario was parroted by McNulty who ran with his meme that she wanted to fire the Superintendent in two separate “My Take” opinion pieces on 6/30 and 7/14. That was just three articles in a month. But what really took them down was the public backlash against the faulty reporting and opinions. McNulty’s excuse was to blame the popularity of the Governor.

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Many voters saw right through the barrage of infidelities to the Truth targeted at Rosario. Until now, voters were used to McNulty never mentioning Mom’s for Liberty by name, referring to them as a radical “fringe group.” On occasions in Lemmon Lines, Russ Lemmon referred to Mom’s for Liberty with the exact same phrasing while trying to shame Rosario as the fringe’s representative.

As a candidate in the race for the District 4 board member seat, I plainly admit to running alongside Rosario. My wife and I came to know her personally; obviously, McNulty never bothered as his writing displays. When it comes to the School Board, McNulty’s writing is based on the agenda of Brian Barefoot. His take was crystalized in 32963 Issue 28 on July 14, 2022 in his column titled, “Barefoot: Disappointed, discouraged, concerned.”

McNulty failed to mention two things in his school board race analysis. Excellence in Indian River Education PC, a political PAC, distributed 2 joint mailers featuring LaDonna Corbin and Teri Barenborg. This PAC was originally titled Excellence in Indian River Education and started in 2020 on behalf of the Brian Barefoot campaign. It had one donor, Jeff Andros, the manager of Barefoot’s campaign, and also, now manager of Corbin’s campaign. The 2020 PAC wasn’t needed for Barefoot’s campaign. However, the reactivated PC version spent over $20,000 promoting Corbin and Barenborg. The beauty of island life is on display.

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As someone who lost my campaign, I do not begrudge these two campaigning together and using the services of a willing PAC. I had PAC support as well. I am just reporting the activity of campaigns. Considering McNulty’s fondness for Barefoot’s legacy in the July column, and through his constant quoting of the board member for the past year, his omissions this campaign season are telling. The local moniker, “Barefoot Media,” suits his columns.

The other thing McNulty didn’t mention is that Cynthia Gibbs was formally endorsed by Charlie Crist. DeSantis is not the only official, as McNulty surmised on 9/1, who “can scoff at the constitution” over his endorsement of Rosario and others around the state. The money used to promote the Governor’s endorsement came from his PAC and not the Governor’s office, or the Republican Party. The same reasoning goes for Crist too. The ideas expressed by DeSantis concerning schools are not partisan. His campaign team interviewed candidates that agreed with him, and then vetted their voting records to make sure they were true to the ideas.

I applied for the DeSantis endorsement and didn’t get it. As McNulty put it, I am a “political novice,” and to the Governor, I am an unknown commodity. Barenborg did not get it either because her voting record went against the Parental Bill of Rights in 2021 and the Governor and FL Department of Education’s directive concerning mask mandates. At the time the 2022 Parental Rights in Education bill was being finalized, Barenborg was voting to keep pornographic books in our school libraries. Rosario’s votes aligned with the Governor’s Education Agenda, and he honored her commitment to FL education with his endorsement.

Yet, McNulty declares, “Not only did the ‘Friends of Ron DeSantis’ political action committee mail fliers touting Rosario and Kenny, but the two candidates sent out somewhat-misleading fliers that gave the false impression that the Governor had endorsed both of them.” McNulty is wrong. The Friends of Ron DeSantis did not do mailers for Thomas Kenny for School Board. He should know that because, he admitted in the same sentence, the Governor did not endorse “both of them.”

I speculate that McNulty must have read Larry Reisman’s dirge on Sunday August 28th for his source material. As well, Reisman referred to me as “a political novice.” Reisman also was factually wrong. Once again, I was not endorsed by Governor Ron DeSantis. In my race, I was the only candidate not endorsed who did NOT use his image directly in my campaign marketing.

I learned a lot this campaign. The biggest takeaway is that local print media will say anything to maintain their narrative and get the elite’s chosen candidates across the finish line. I gave up on McNulty a long time ago. Lemmon proved his worth with the vilest story of the season in his special election mailer of Lemmon Lines. McNulty and Lemmon, who both wrote about the Crazy Corbin sign incident, completely ignored the fact that the sheriff’s investigation found zero evidence that trespassing, destruction of property or hate crimes were committed.

Yet, I thought Reisman might be an exception to the sloppy journalism; he is not. In addition to the endorsement mistake, he says without evidence the 1776 Project PAC, who endorsed my campaign, was “misleading." If you want “misleading,” how about the Leading for Our Future PAC mailing on behalf of Barenborg with the statement “Fighting for our future while standing with Governor DeSantis’ education policies.” I look forward to Barenborg voting in lock-step with the Governor’s Education Agenda.

Reisman claims, “DeSantis picked up the idea this year — on the Treasure Coast anointing candidates with among the weakest resumes, including Rosario....” Jackie Rosario holds three masters degrees, and, has more experience as an educator and school administrator than any of her opponents. Rosario has been in public education for nearly thirty years, and has done homeschooling too, which affords her the ability to serve on the Board. Reisman could have found her "weak" resume on the Supervisor of Elections website. He never considered it.

Like McNulty, Reisman also failed to mention that Charlie Crist had endorsed Cynthia Gibbs, and the Democrat Party had fully endorsed her. She now squares-off against Rosario in November. Nobody should be naive in thinking that the Democrats will not give her money for her campaign. It’s totally legal as it is for the Republican party to support Rosario. McNulty, Reisman and Lemmon would rather have you to believe in their right-wing conspiracy narrative, the 2022 version.

In closing, you may ask, “why do I care so much about their election reporting?” Well, these campaign stories are used by the media merchants of Vero Beach (don’t forget, they sell advertising to print this stuff) to form narratives that manipulate the public. As a recent candidate, and former national mass media professional, who finds his duty to honestly inform the public, I necessarily felt like shedding light on how these narratives are constructed. I know Reisman, McNulty and Lemmon write opinion. My question is "why read them if they have to literally lie and leave all journalistic integrity aside to make it plausible?"

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