Apologize, amend and improve, for the sake of all Ohioans

As an essayist, when I get stuck, I often resort to the “just imagine you’re writing a letter to a friend” technique. Except in this case, I really did write a letter, and I sent it too. Here it is.

Dear Brian [Brian Rothenberg, Communications Director, Ohio Democratic Party],

This morning, I read a comment written by you on Buckeye Senate Blog. I’m not going to get involved in something about which I know next to nothing and doesn’t really involve me, but this portion caught my attention:

You have a right to factual opinion. Bloggers do not have a right to libel or slander in a legal sense or malicious unsubstantiated rumor as fact from a journeyman’s stance.

If blogging is to become a serious dialogue, it must evolve into basic standards of decency and accuracy, or else it will not become what I often hear bloggers in these pages wanting it to become.

When I combine the extent to which the final post that existed at the High and Broad blog (just before someone removed all of that blog’s posts) made unkind insinuations about me, with these words of yours – particularly the suggestion that bloggers adhere to basic standards of decency and accuracy, I can only think of one piece of information that I want to know and that I deserve to know: If you or someone you know knows what in the world gave rise to that final post of H & B’s, for the sake of those of us who are Democrats in our hearts and values, and Ohioans by residence as well as personality, then that information should be publicly revealed and the person who is responsible for that very distasteful post must take responsibility.

Just to remind you why I feel even a bit offended, here is the post, as reproduced yesterday on Michael Meckler’s blog post about the entire situation (and I think he does an excellent job in his recap):

Much blogging going on right now about the fact that the Ohio Democratic Party selected Saturday afternoon to screen gubernatorial candidates.
Tim Russo spins it into another one of his “controversies,” noting that Eric Fingerhut is a conservative Jew and couldn’t possibly be at a party screening on a Saturday afternoon.

Then Jill, at Write Like She Talks, spends all day blogging on it (here and here and here and here). She’s a conservative Jew. She doesn’t seem happy.

But wait. Wasn’t that Eric Fingerhut up there addressing the Democracy For America/Blue 88 Democratic candidates forum just two weeks ago in Columbus on a Saturday afternoon?

It was. Here is audio, in which Fingerhut notes that he had driven down from Cleveland with his son.

So what gives? Who is it that’s supposed to be offended here?

Because I’ve made it clear in several places that I see this post as only borderline anti-Semitic but primarily insulting, unnecessarily provocative and sarcastic, and with no value whatsoever since it appeared after Eric Fingerhut dropped out of the race, it should be obvious to you that for me, this is a matter of putting closure on what appears to have been a very dumb post. This cloud, that now hangs over the author of the post and by association the Ohio Democratic Party, its staff and individuals who associate with the ODP staff, must be cleared, for the sake of every self-respecting Democrat. Such posts, such thoughts, such comments must be condemned. Period. In public. By the person who wrote them and the people who decided to shut that person down, even and especially if that includes Chairman Chris Redfern.

Do you and those with whom you work not see how the refusal to completely and finally clear up the High and Broad situation does nothing but demoralize not just those of us who read it, but all of Ohio’s voters who think of themselves as Democrats? We’re supposed to be the party of tolerance, diversity and inclusion.

When someone like Brent Larkin, one of the most senior editors of The Plain Dealer – the largest newspaper in a county with so many Democrats, is saying, “it’s Amateur Hour at the state party headquarters,” it is time for you and/or your superiors to acknowledge a mistake and take the necessary steps to correct the behaviors that are leading to such observations and opinions. (Yes, I’m aware that Mr. Larkin was referring to a different incident, however, my point goes to how the impression he formed could just as easily apply to this situation as well).

At a minimum, I did nothing to deserve the snideness in the H & B post. I wrote a thorough and very specific comment which too has disappeared and, for closure’s sake, I would like a response from H & B about my comment.

To be even more candid, I find it unbelievable that no one is coming out, apologizing and expressing the shame they feel for making the implications made by the H & B post. Eric Fingerhut has been a valued, well-liked, well-respected, public servant for decades. So there’s a disagreement about the scheduling. How on earth does a post that tries to paint Eric Fingerhut as being insincere with his religion help resolve the disagreement?

If the blog author is affiliated in anyway to any official branch of the Ohio Democratic party, all he or she has accomplished with that post is the breeding of distrust for the party, by voters. If party-affiliated individuals make errors like this now, and in relation to members of our own Democratic party, what will happen when the general election battle must be waged? This aspect, this outgrowth, of such sentiments as those expressed in the High and Broad final post is what disturbs, disgusts and worries me the most.

In conclusion, I am asking you as sincerely as I can, without any undue inflection, to account for or make those who can account for this distasteful post to do so. If more inflection on my part will make it more incumbent on you or anyone else to get the truth out and under the bridge, I’ll be happy to inflict inflection. But given the lack of civility that can reign in this issues, I usually d
on’t find much value in carrying on that way.

This email speaks only for me and my feelings and passion about this situation. I’ve been appreciative of your prompt responses to each of my emails. Please, do the right thing and let’s get this mess cleaned up. I’ve cc’d this letter to the ODP Chairman and Mr. Kohlstrand, the latter because of the references made to him in Michael Meckler’s blog.

Very truly yours,


0 thoughts on “Apologize, amend and improve, for the sake of all Ohioans

  1. Ok – now – there are three Anonymouses mouses? in a row. I really have a thing about that – I can’t keep you straight. Can you either give yourself a fake name, tell me who you are or at least number yourselves so I can distinguish? No attempt to squelch input – just an attempt to keep things orderly when responding AND improve transparency. I’m transparent with my feelings – I prefer everyone else to try also.So – Anon 1 who says yeah to Gina and let’s move on. I agreeAnon 2 – I’m not going to discuss Tim here unless it relates to some topic I’ve posted on. My blog, my choice. If you want to know my feelings on that subject, email me and we can have an off the record discourse.Anon 3 – Did you post that stuff about Sherrod Brown to help his hit count go higher? What are you responding to? I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about, and right now, I’m okay with that.If you want to explain further, once you’ve calmed down and can explain in terms that I can understand and that have specifics, fine, otherwise: my original post wasn’t about Sherrod Brown, my original post wasn’t about Tim Russo. But, when I post about either of those folks, feel free to comment. I have enough disparate ideas streaming through my brain without ones that have nothing to do with what I’ve targeted for the moment.By the way, if you’re that passionate, you really ought to find a way to reveal yourself or your ideas a bit better, because I just don’t get that many hits.

  2. Gina – I think your take is fair and reasonable. Many of the same thoughts have crossed my mind. With my post today about my phone conversation with John Kohlstrand, I consider the matter over and done as far as I’m concerned.As for the feelings between anyone and Tim Russo, let them take that up with him on their space, their time etc. I’ve never directly or indirectly been a shill for him. He knows EXACTLY how I feel about his attitudes and approaches. That I show up to Meet the Bloggers and he does too is merely something we have in common. I will say, however, that in helping me unravel the source of the High and Broad in bad taste blogger, Tim was instrumental, and I thank him for that and will not apologize for thanking him.

  3. First, I wish to g-d I did not have to stay anonymous to post this.Second, shame on Sherrod Brown’s cowardly staff for smearing Russo and other bloggers. Who is next? Where will they draw the line?Lastly, the only person who disgusts me is Sherrod Brown. He directed his campaign to conduct opposition research on a blogger with whom they disagreed. They pitched that information to the MSM. They tried to get said blogger fired. Why? Because he dared disagree with the great Sherrod Brown.The best thing that could happen to the Democratic Party is Sherrod Brown’s crushing defeat in November. His disgusting displays of arrogance, greed, and supposed power befit someone with an (R), not a (D).

  4. If you look at the H&B post, and you look at Tim Russo’s criminal record… well, the latter offends me more. How about you, Jill?

  5. I typically never comment on blogs but the events of the last couple days have disturbed me to the point that I feel I have to say something. I chose your blog, Jill, because yours is one I particularly enjoy and I respect you. I do want to make clear that I am just a blog reader – not a blogger, not an ODP staffer, not in any way affiliated with whoever you all consider “insiders”. That being said, I am completely, utterly at a loss as to why the Fingerhut post and the High & Broad blogger’s identity are as huge an issue as they are. I did not read it the way others did. This is how I read it:Tim Russo alleged that the ODP purposefully and blatantly excluded Fingerhut from the endorsement interviews by scheduling them for a time when Eric clearly could not attend due to religious observance.This heavy accusation greatly upset you, Jill (as well it should have), and you posted several times about it. (I didn’t read this as an insult to you at all. I thought it was just an observation of how Russo’s allegations upset people.)Model 500 (perhaps naively in retrospect) took offense to the suggestion that the ODP would do such a thing (and quite honestly, so did I). Furthermore, he/she felt that Eric’s attendance at other Saturday events showed that Eric does, on occasion, break the Sabbath. I did not read this as questioning Eric’s faith at all – it was just another observation. The sum of what I got out of it was that an accusation was made, by Russo, that H&B felt was ridiculous given that a) the ODP would never use religion to exclude someone from the political process and b) Eric has attended events on Saturday in the past so Eric may not have even asked for accommodation.Since the H&B post, Fingerhut’s campaign has come out and said they requested accommodation which was denied by an ODP staffer doing the scheduling. That to me is the real issue. Not some stupid blog that took offense to the suggestion that the ODP would do such a thing.I think the snarky attitude people picked up on in the H&B blog was not directed toward Fingerhut, or you at all. I think it was directed at Tim Russo and that was how I read it. Personally, I react to Russo’s posts with a great deal of disgust most of the time. So, I completely understand the temptation to make snide comments pointing out what an idiot he is. Maybe this is why I read the post the way I did.Russo’s posts are full of hatred, accusations and conspiracy theories. He thinks Redfern is the devil. He clearly hates that Kohlstrand guy and Brian Rothenberg. He makes no secret of this and in fact, I think he’s getting off on this whole thing, which is why he keeps stirring the pot. I’m willing to bet that tonight or tomorrow Russo will post a scathing report of the MTB meeting. He will rail against Redfern and nothing that is said by Redfern or Rothenberg about H&B will satisfy him. I don’t necessarily like what has happened with Fingerhut and Hackett in the last few days either but I think Russo has a tendency to go too far.Personally, I don’t feel Russo has any right to take the moral high ground on ANY issue. Ever. I learned all I need to know about his morals on the court docket posted on Right Angle Blog. Maybe this is how Model 500 reacts to him as well and that was the inspiration for the post.Instead of spending the time and energy on identifying the H&B blogger and calling for heads to roll over this post, I think we should be looking into whether or not Eric was intentionally or unintentionally excluded from those interviews. The staffer that denied the scheduling accommodation is the one that should be feeling the heat right now. There is no place for that sort of behavior in the ODP. It is very concerning to me. Much more concerning than whether or not Model 500 was an ODP operative.

  6. I do not want folks to think that Brian Rothenberg hasn’t responded to me. He has. And I’ve responded back. I’ve not entered these correspondences as their own posts because I do not consider Brian’s response to add to the conversation or provide closure. I’m hopeful that I will, or someone will, eventually provide that type of response – perhaps through a last post at High and Broad, where perhaps whomever was responsible for the last post there (on Monday evening) will blog about what they were thinking and feeling at the time they posted the “Is there a Rabbi in the House?” picture and text.Here is Brian’s response to my email, followed by my response to his response (you’ll probably want to be sure you’ve read my email in the post above first for it to all make sense):Jill,I simply no longer know how to respond to accusations of anti-semitism. I’m Jewish myself. No-one on ODP staff has a blog (although it would be hard to argue they are not allowed to do so on their own.)Eric is a friend of mine. He did appear at the DFA event. We did offer to make accomodation as I’ve written before.I have not seen the post, but I am quite frankly offended myself by your inference of anti-semetism if it is aimed at me (and I can assure you I do not think Eric would accuse me of that) and can assure you that neither Chris nor anyone here has ever made any comments to me personally that would give me pause. I myself would not tolerate that type of behavior.I also believe that in politically heightened times, we should be careful to use the taint of anti-semitism carefully where it factually applies. I do not believe ODP was in any way anti-semetic in holding screenings this Saturday, anymore than I think DFA was anti-semetic in holding the Candidates forum Eric attended on a Saturday.BrianBrian P. RothenbergCommunication DirectorOhio Democratic Party614-221-6563Cell 614-207-3237Brian@ohiodems.orgMy response to that email:Brian, I trust you read my entire email, but let me reprint this portion, if you don’t mind: Because I’ve made it clear in several places that I see this post as only borderline anti-Semitic but primarily insulting, unnecessarily provocative and sarcastic, and with no value whatsoever since it appeared after Eric Fingerhut dropped out of the race, it should be obvious to you that for me, this is a matter of putting closure on what appears to have been a very dumb post. Please do not attempt again to mischaratize my upsetment over the post by saying that I’m calling you anti-Semitic when I’m clearly not. Could you please respond to the substantive concerns voiced in my email?Thank you. Jill

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