There are few things in life more delicious than receiving a lecture on tolerance from the intolerant. Such occurrences make life worth living. Indeed, I’d put them on a par with a glass of fine single-malt scotch or a grass-fed beef burger at The Well.
This weekend, Alan Chartock suggested in his artless column in the Berkshire Eagle that those who oppose the proposed $51 million renovation project for Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington are “intolerant.” This is a man who, in two previous columns, branded any vote on the project that goes against his wishes as “un-American” and “selfish.” No, I’m not making this up. I couldn’t even if I wanted to.
And in his second column on the topic, Chartock denied having called a no vote un-American in the first column. I’ve been a journalist for almost 20 years and a keen observer of the craft since high school. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a columnist write a column blatantly misrepresenting what he said the week before. I attempted to point this out politely in the comment thread, but the gods of the Eagle’s web team would not approve it.
Chartock didn’t mention me by name in his most recent effort, but it’s clear that he was referring to yours truly as “a poor journalist who should be ashamed of himself” and who is “aiding and abetting” a curious alliance between the “anti-taxers” and the “uber-rich.” I’ll leave it to others to judge if that’s true, but if I’m lacking talent, what do you call a man with a Ph.D. in political science who thinks it’s un-American to vote in a manner in which he disapproves? What do you call a professor emeritus of communication who falsely denies writing precisely what he “communicated” the previous week?
Curiously, the Eagle did not publish this weekend’s column online, but if you want to see it, scroll down and click on the screen grab below.
Credit where it’s due: What Chartock did with tiny WAMC when he took it over in 1981 is nothing short of spectacular. He grew a station that was $125,000 in debt into a regional powerhouse. No one can take that achievement away from him. But what continues to amaze me is that his admirers still look to him as a source of wisdom on public policy.
To wit, his columns for the Eagle are always short on facts and long on feelings. In addition to my position at the Record, I write for a highly respected publication that covers politics and public policy in Connecticut and I can tell you with certainty that if I wrote columns as thin and lazy as Chartock’s, I would be taken out of the op-ed rotation in very short order.
Chartock is no doubt stung by the Oct. 16 article I wrote for the Record that held him accountable for his words. And he certainly is entitled to his opinion on The Record’s coverage of the Monument renovation campaign. He can even call me names (he labeled me a “twerp” from his Olympian perch at WAMC).
But it is he himself who has “aided and abetted” the no voters. Trust me on this, Alan: Nothing will galvanize the no voters more resolutely against your cause than by echoing Joseph McCarthy’s words. And no amount of denying will ever erase those words.