Do We Really Have A Free Press In the U.S.? You Be The Judge

My graphic incorporating the now disappeared photo of napalm on the runway in Brunswick, 2012.

One of the reasons I started writing this blog in 2010 was to keep my head from exploding over current events.

The other reason is a persistent interest in battling information control. I am inspired by blogs and websites who peek around the corporate media monolith and report what they see and hear. 

Today I share a specific, detailed example of information control on behalf of the U.S. military by corporate news entities in my home state of Maine.

Recently the Blue Angels brought their noise and air polluting daredevil show to Brunswick and I organized a protest that included speeches. It’s not the first time I’ve protested air shows which are recruiting events and terribly harmful to our already struggling climate.

In my remarks, I mentioned that in 2012 the same air show had burned napalm on the runway as a grand finale. Vietnam vets that were inside at the time recognized it and I heard them talk about it; also, the local newspaper The Forecaster ran a photograph of the napalm burning with a plane overhead as part of their August 26, 2012 coverage of the show.

In my blog post about it, I inserted the photo using a url that directly linked to the photo. I used to put photos in blog posts this way because it was faster than downloading and then uploading photos, and also because it was more respectful to the source as it pinged back to them if a reader clicked on it.

Sadly, this is what my blog post looks like today:

Ok, so the old link is broken. Happens all the time. Just go to the archive of The Forecaster and get it again, right?


The Forecaster, now owned by the Portland Press Herald, mysteriously has no archived articles about that air show — a two-day event that typically produces at least two articles. In fact, it mysteriously has zero articles on any topic for the two day duration of the show: August 25 & 26, 2012. 

Bear with me, it gets even stranger.

In my searching I did uncover an article reporting on the planned protests for the 2012 air show from a press release sent out by the organizers of the protest. This is from the Times Record, another local paper now owned by the Portland Press Herald

It, too, has a missing photograph though the caption remains humorously intact:

Who is this dude? No idea. 

Did a clerical error result in his face appearing where the banner pic was intended to go? We’ll probably never know but in case you’re curious, here’s the banner:

Bruce Gagnon and Mark Roman at air show protest Sep. 4, 2021 Photo credit: Gigi Larc

Fast forward to this week when the Times Record refused to print a letter to the editor by Brunswick organizer Rosie Paul about the 20th anniversary of a weekly vigil for peace. Especially significant on the 20th anniversary of the events of 9/11, wouldn’t you say? 

Here’s the text of her letter:

Greater Brunswick PeaceWorks marks this Twentieth Anniversary

In the week following 9/11/01, members of the Brunswick community met together looking for what might be an effective response to the tragic events of that date.

We put out a call for a Vigil for Peace for that next Friday at 5, a Vigil urging non-retaliation so we could move ahead wisely from the crossroad all of us faced.

On that Friday, and for several subsequent Fridays, the edge of the Town Green was lined with as many as 90 community members who felt keenly the need to reflect on what had happened, to think about why it may have happened, and to see how we could help to shape a response that would lead to more understanding and certainly not to more violence.

When the United States chose to retaliate against Iraq and Afghanistan, the numbers at the vigil dropped, both in frustration and in disappointment. A core of some 10-15 members has met at the edge of the Green nearly every Friday since.

Gradually we gave our group a name – PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick – and set about organizing monthly discussions, film showings, presentations of various kinds, and an annual Peace Fair to celebrate and build on the connections among Maine’s many non-profit groups working for Justice and Peace.

The weekly vigil has continued – fondly known as “Honk for Peace” – and we find our numbers growing again, infused with energy from other areas where violence needs to give way to compassion and cooperation: The Black Lives Matter Movement , The Poor People’s Campaign, and the looming Climate Crisis – all of them connected and all of them crying out for us to wake up, to find the sustainable future we know is possible.

You are warmly invited to join us on the Green (opposite Walgreens) next Friday and for as many Fridays as you can.

Rosalie Paul, Brunswick 

Rosie’s queries about why the letter was rejected have met with stonewalling by executive editor John Swinconeck. 

No surprise to me since Swinconeck is the one who terminated Peaceworks’ monthly column which Rosie used to coordinate and where I was sometimes published. His reason given at the time was that there was not enough local content in our columns. That won’t fly for her recent letter so he simply said, we have no plans to publish this letter at any time.

All this came up because someone who heard me speak on September 4 about napalm being burned for entertainment in 2012 was questioned by an acquaintance who was incredulous that it could be true. So she reached out to me for evidence, and I began my futile search.

Do we really have a free press in the U.S.? You be the judge.