Friday, May 16, 2008

A test for the Asbury Park Press

Over the last several years, the Asbury Park Press has done, for the most part, an admirable job exposing wasteful spending and shortfalls in the integrity of government officials and political parties on the state, county and municipal levels of government. The Monmouth GOP has borne the brunt of much of that reporting and editorializing. Some of the coverage has been on the mark. Sadly, some has been way off the mark.

If, as appears to be the case, Joe Oxley pursues the Monmouth GOP chairmanship, the APP's own integrity will be tested.

The APP has a financial ax to grind with Joe Oxley.

While in his second term as Sheriff, Oxley's department stopped advertising Notices of Foreclosure Sales, or any other Sheriff's notices in the Asbury Park Press. This decision cost the APP millions of dollars in revenue. Conversely, Oxley's advertising policies saved the Monmouth County tax payers millions of dollars. Reports are that the Sheriff's notices in local weekly papers, at much lower rates than the APP's, drew greater interest and participation in the Sheriff's sales, to the benefit of the both lenders and borrowers, and the public.

In today's editorial, the APP took a shot at Oxley's potential chairmanship. Later today, they posted an extremely favorable article on their website reporting that Oxley's partner, Matt Giacobbe put the county government on notice that he would not seek to renew his contract as county counsel if Oxley becomes GOP chairman. The contract was worth over $360,000 last year. That is unheard of! That is an extraordinary act of integrity to avoid the appearance of a conflict.

Since Oxley left the Sheriff's office in January, the APP has been scrutinizing his tenure and published articles critical of over time spending. I have it on good authority that more critical articles are coming, perhaps as early as this weekend.

No public figure is immune from criticism from the press or the public in general. However, the press has a responsibility to be accurate, objective and fair in their reporting.

Given Oxley's history with the Asbury Park Press, and that he chose to save the taxpayers money at the APP's expense, it will be very telling to watch the APP's coverage of Oxley.

Hopefully, we will find that the APP's reporting is fair and objective. We'll see if their vehement objections to "Pay to Play" and their criticism of wasteful government spending applies even when it hurts their own bottom line. Hopefully, they will not exhibit the kind of vendentas that they have been critical of government officials and party bosses for practicing when their power and money are at risk.

1 comment:

Art Gallagher said...


It has come to my attention that this post was not entirely accurate, in that when Oxley stopped advertizing in the APP, that ads were then placed in the Star Ledger. Ledger ads may have cost more than APP ads.

I am using my editorial discretion to publish this correction as prominently as I suspect the APP would publish a correction, and as prominently as they published the news of Oxley's partner, Matt Giacobbe giving up the county labor counsel job if Joe becomes chairman.