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Asking the Tough Questions of the Powerless and Mentally Ill

I like the Buffalo News’ new editorial direction. The mainstream media of yore would have exposed – oh, I dunno – maybe the fact that the country’s political, taxation, and entire socioeconomic structure has been systematically co-opted by the richest 1% of Americans for their own benefit, thanks to a compliant governmental structure that is able and willing to be lobbied and bought. In the past, the city’s paper of record would have proudly gone after the powerful. Pentagon Papers! Watergate! Obscure Guy at Occupy Buffalo!

Now? The Buffalo News bravely questions the claims of military service made by Christopher Simmance, an Occupy Buffalo protester who suffers from PTSD, and has been fighting the federal bureaucracy for years trying to get incorrect records corrected.

Simmance is not a leader – putative or otherwise – of Occupy Buffalo, nor is he in any position of power or influence over anybody. As far as I can tell, he’s a troubled Army veteran who is upset about the direction of the country, and sports a backwards Kangol cap.

Did Simmance serve in the Korangal Valley of Afghanistan? I mean, IT WAS IN A MOVIE! I know that the Buffalo News didn’t have the answer, but insinuates that he didn’t.

Setting aside this article’s questionable prioritization – questioning the powerless rather than the powerful – the article doesn’t conclusively rebut any of Simmance’s claims. Instead, it employs the Glenn Beck-trademarked trick of question-asking to discredit by innuendo.  I don’t get it. Here’s a Twitter back and forth that Steve Watson, the article’s author, and I had:


If the News had unearthed actual facts to dispute Simmance’s claims, then it’d be a story. Without them, it’s just a smear.

A shameful one at that.

Up next: an Orchard Park working mother of two claims to go to a gym three times a week to work out. But does she? She claims to do Zumba, but Zumba is mentioned on TV ads!