Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Does The Local Paper Harbor a Troll?

It's taken me a few years, but I think I have finally figured out why the Bluefield Daily Telegraph's resident Tuesday opinion "writer" Smokey Shott continues to misrepresent, stretch the truth, repeat discredited stories, and lie shamelessly on occasion.

I believe Smokey is what is often referred to on the Internet as a "troll". Trolls sow discord online by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic content with the intent of provoking people into an emotional response, or otherwise disrupting civil discourse.

Trolls have wormed their way into traditional media channels, thanks to conservatives, who largely embrace this type of behavior. Their endorsement empowers despicable bottom feeders like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Milo Yiannopoulos and Richard Spencer, who are some of the most vile trolls on the Internet.

To his credit Smokey is pretty mild as far as trolls go. He comes across more as a cut-rate version of William F. Buckley, founder of the modern conservative movement, than he does as a clone of someone completely disgusting like the Ann Coulter creature.

Interestingly enough, Smokey's great-grandfather, Hugh Shott, purchased the Bluefield Daily Telegraph at the turn of the 20th century and ran it for nearly sixty years. This probably at least partially explains why the newspaper allows Smokey the space for his weekly screed.

In all honesty we should probably appreciate the paper giving print space to our locally-grown, watered down, one-man version of "Fox and Friends". Even misguided right-wingers who endlessly crib from the Heritage Foundation should have a voice.

If the editorial board would now just extend the same opportunity to the area's left-leaning opinion writers, all readers of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph would be happy.

This will never happen under the current local management, even though the people who control CNHI (owner of the paper) are hardly conservative, being largely comprised of retired educators.

Other than the editorial the Bluefield Daily Telegraph was infamously forced to run that endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, they have mostly stuck to conservative talking points, either using Smokey Shott as a mouthpiece, or via the regular columns hurriedly dashed off by their editorial board.

Hugh Shott would roll over in his grave if he could see what his paper has become -- although he might cut them some slack since they give his great-grandson an outlet for his modest writing talent.

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