Special to HuntingtonNews.Net
Mark Caserta: Nation’s political discourse impacts local columnist.

Our nation’s number one threat may no longer emanate from a foreign entity, a rogue leader or even threat of war.

Our nation’s single, most urgent peril may stem from within – the liberal media.

I believe the liberal media has successfully propagated a vehement, political discourse that’s become nothing short of a debilitating disease, spreading its effect throughout every bone and sinew of our nation, crippling our Republic and dividing the American people.

And I’m very saddened to report, I firmly believe the Tri-State area has now been infected by this “journalistic disorder.”

For the past 14 years, I’ve been arguably, the primary, if not only, regular local, “conservative” contributor to the Herald-Dispatch (HD) in Huntington, WV.  I’ve never taken that responsibility lightly. I’ve been honored to be the voice of thousands of people who, otherwise, would not have their opinions shared in such a venue.

Together, my readers and I have had some successes.  In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump, the conservative candidate, won West Virginia with a whopping 68.5% of the vote per BallotPedia.  I happen to believe my readers and I, along with FreeStatePatriot.com, had some impact on the outcome of our state’s choice.

Following Hillary Clinton’s embarrassing loss to political outsider, Donald Trump, liberals simply lost their grasp of reality.  I believe they’ve proven they hate President Trump more than they love their country and I’ve endeavored to substantiate it with what I believe to be undeniable truths.  My columns have produced supportive evidence showing that no matter what “wins” President Trump has for the American people, liberals are more concerned with delegitimizing his presidency and his supporters than they are with fostering America’s peace and prosperity.

From the miraculous rebound of our economy, to record-low unemployment, increasing labor participation rate, more viable healthcare options, lower taxes, a stronger military and improved foreign relations, President Trump has amassed victories like nothing in my lifetime!  Yet, all the liberal media can do, including local columnists in the HD, is trash Trump based on his tweets, relationships and political incorrectness!

And as with President Trump, my readers have supported my writing through the years because I’ve always done my best to present the truth with integrity and the best interest of the people in mind.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, providing information in the “best interest of the people” is a diminishing aspiration for the HD.  In fact, HD leadership, for all intents and purposes, said just that.

In the interest of absolute clarity and transparency, here is the text from the actual email I received from the HD editorial page editor notifying me my columns would no longer be acceptable for publication in the newspaper.

“Hi Mark: I didn’t find pieces of your column submitted this week acceptable, in terms of your attacks on other columnists. Therefore, I am not publishing it.

 I have also decided that the H-D will no longer publish any more of your columns, partly due to this most recent submission, but also for a couple of other reasons. One is that you seldom write about any subject that is more local in nature; the other is that most of your columns repeat the same theme from week to week.”

Just so you’ll know that this isn’t about conservative vs. liberal, we are also discontinuing publication of Milt Hankins columns. He, too, veered off into a more direct response to your columns in a recent piece that I also chose not to publish, and also poses the same issues regarding local content and repetition.

 I appreciate the many columns you have contributed over the years, but I’m afraid this is no longer working in the newspaper’s best interests.”

I haven’t the words to share with my readers the shock I felt after receiving this, rather “matter of fact” email from my editor after 14 years of service.  Yes, I was paid for my columns, but I assure you, it was a gratuitous amount. I would have written for free.

If you’ve followed the Herald Dispatch for any length of time, you’ve noticed the guest column lineup throughout the week.  It’s not unusual to see back to back opinion pieces from the other liberal, local contributors lambasting Donald Trump and/or conservative values.

I was obviously the “token” conservative columnist!

On Fridays, which has been typically the day my column was published, many readers shared it was a “breath of fresh air” being able to read someone who truly represents who I believe are most readers in this area, with an opinion piece, usually written in support of a conservative agenda.

The “unacceptable” column to which the editor refers contained some direct call outs on local columnists for their hypocritical attacks on President Trump.  It’s available in its entirety on my blog’s website.  It’s “in your face” accuracy in identifying local hypocrisy, while not revealing columnist’s names, was apparently more than the HD leadership could fathom!

Let’s be clear.  Removing me as a local contributor to the newspaper had little to do with my final column.  The column was simply the “opportunity” for which the HD had been hoping, enabling them to rid themselves of this “rogue conservative” staining the editorial page and giving them headaches every Friday.

Allow me to offer these points in presenting my case that my dismissal was “politically expedient” for the HD.

Through the years, I’ve had a good working relationship with my editors. I’ve respected their position and learned from their experience. There have been a handful of instances where my editor refused to publish a column as it was originally submitted. Perhaps it was a bit “over-the-top” with regard to my conservative position, or the editor felt the column may have compromised my “credibility” as a writer.

However, in every single instance, the editor would reach out to me asking for a re-write, or at least give me an opportunity to write another piece. In the interest of being a paid, regular contributor, I would always comply.

This email arrived less than 24 hours prior to publication of what was to be my final column, hence no opportunity for a re-write.

Additionally, the HD editor felt the need to share that he was also discontinuing publication of another “liberal” columnist to show this had nothing to do with “liberal vs. conservative.”

How thoughtful.

While I strongly disagree with this liberal columnist’s dismissal, I believe he became an unfortunate casualty in an effort for the HD to save face.  Milt Hankins, the aforementioned columnist, in my opinion, had already lost credibility with readers by fostering outlandish liberal positions, I believe even local liberals stopped reading his material.  I believe the HD felt he wasn’t adding value and was simply expendable.

Regarding the “repetition” of my columns, I encourage readers to check out the exact same form of repetition from even the most “tenured” columnists still writing for the HD in their attacks on President Trump and his supporters.

The bottom-line, in this humble writer’s opinion, is the leadership and ownership of the Herald Dispatch had simply gotten tired of losing ground to this deplorable, right-wing, Trump supporter.  For no matter how many liberal columns the HD published – by Friday morning, they were rendered null and void.

As my friend Tom Roten, host of the popular, “Tom Roten Morning Show”, on 800 WVHU would say, “A lie is still a lie, no matter how many times you say it!”

My columns, for 14 years, offered truth and integrity.  While I sincerely appreciate the HD publishing my material, I did not write in the “interest of the newspaper.”  I wrote in the interest of the people.

And I shall continue to write!  Following my conversation with Tom on his morning show the day after my release from the HD, my blog, FreeStatePatriot.com, received a record number of hits, most likely more than the HD sold papers!  Tom also shared the podcast of the interview went “viral” in terms of normal site visits.  Praise God!

When liberals cannot substantiate their lies and animosity toward President Trump or any conservative, the only way they can “win” an argument is to quiet the voice of the opposition.

Unfortunately, for the HD, they haven’t quieted my voice, they’ve wakened a sleeping giant!  Doug Smith, co-editor of Free State Patriot, and I will continue our work “exposing the progressive movement” in our nation and in our area.

Part of that mission now includes exposing the Herald Dispatch for what I believe to be enabling the progressive movement in the Tri-State.

And folks, we should be taking that personally.  When a town’s local newspaper begins filtering the message being delivered to the reader, they’re negating the very amendment of the Constitution which provides them the opportunity.  That, my friend, is the epitome of hypocrisy.

I look forward to partnering with each of you in helping “Keep America Great” and making the Tri-State great again!

God bless America and God Bless the Tri-State!  May He continue to deliver us from progressives who would silence His Word!

Stay tuned and armed with knowledge by visiting Freestatepatriot.com and HuntingtonNews.net.

Thank you for your prayers and support.