Public Comment

New: A Case Study in Tantrum Journalism; Op-ed piece by Becky O’Malley in the Saturday April 4, 2015 issue of the Berkeley Daily Planet.

Paul M. Schwartz, member of the Landmark Preservation Commission of the City of Berkeley.
Wednesday April 08, 2015 - 10:20:00 AM

Ms. O’Malley attended the Thursday April 2, 2015 LPC commission meeting as an advocate of a view on a particular zoning issue. She stated she was not there in a role as a reporter. The vote did not go her way. 

The LPC, after hearing the views of all members of the public present, after reviewing the staff report of the City of Berkeley Planning Department, and after hearing the recommendation of the architect of the UC Berkeley campus, decided to follow the recommendation of the City of Berkeley Planning Department and the recommendation of the University of California Berkeley campus architect.  

Because the decision was not favorable to her viewpoint Ms. O’Malley threw a tantrum, a journalistic tantrum. She used her bully pulpit, the Berkeley Daily Planet to engage in personal attacks on the majority members of the Landmark Preservation Commission. She misquoted them, misrepresented them, described them as being puppets of “corporate masters” and stated they were either ignorant or corrupt. Those who agreed with her, were portrayed as knowledgeable, interested in the public good, intelligent well- meaning members of the community.  

She not only resorts to name calling, she also engages in generalizations and labels. Those who agree with her are “progressive”. Those who disagree with her are “conservative” or are “puppets controlled by corporate masters”. She doesn’t define her terms, merely abuses them.  

If you don’t follow her dictates and choose to exercise your independent judgment, be prepared to be unfairly and personally attacked. I believe we all know how media, both print and broadcast can slant, distort, misreport, quote out of context, belittle and denigrate those they disagree with. Her op-ed piece is a perfect example of this type of gutter journalism. Perhaps she has been watching Fox news and learning from them. Unfair and imbalanced is not the sole province of the right wing. The far left is equally guilty. 

Ms. O’Malley likes to control people. If you don’t go along with her dictates she will engage in character assassination.  

The lesson for all of us is that if you want to engage in civic responsibility and be involved in government in any form, be prepared to be denigrated and personally attacked. Those who disagree with you may throw a tantrum. Some of us do not outgrow our childhood.