You would think a news story about a lengthy and spirited protest on a Blue Ridge Parkway bridge, about Jack Cecil and Biltmore Farms, about the new Pratt & Whitney factory under construction, about an active and growing group of county residents incensed that county commissioners showered millions of dollars in local tax breaks upon a multibillion dollar, internationally notorious armaments manufacturer — you would think such a story would merit coverage by the Asheville Citizen Times as significant, relevant and interesting news from our community for its readers. That’s what newspapers are supposed to do, right?
Alas, you would be wrong. On April 22, Reject Raytheon Asheville organized a public Earth Day celebration and rally at Bent Creek River Park near Raytheon’s nearly completed Pratt & Whitney jet engine manufacturing facility. Speakers at the rally decried both the county’s lack of transparency and public review in recruiting Raytheon to come here as well as the deadly threat that massive arms sales and bloated military budgets pose to emergency climate-crisis mitigation goals already decades behind schedule. But Citizen Times subscribers didn’t read about it because Citizen Times editors decided not to cover it.
And what else did those readers miss? Just the part about the boisterous parade over a parkway bridge across the French Broad River (accompanied by the Brass Your Heart band) overlooking a busy construction site where eight people risked arrest for carrying a banner proclaiming “Wind Turbines Not War Machines” and standing their ground against a long line of dump trucks, motor graders and security personnel. (The eight people were charged with misdemeanor trespass by Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department officers after more than two hours in the road.)
Let’s be real. Biltmore Farms, Jack Cecil and Pratt & Whitney are no doubt delighted to have Asheville Citizen Times’ active cooperation in denying this and similar stories the light of day because they fear the scrutiny an honest and full public conversation will bring. Sadly for its readership and its journalistic integrity, however, the CT’s subservient relationship to these backroom dealers is a disheartening spectacle that should greatly trouble anyone who still believes in the need for fair and thorough reporting on behalf of the public interest.
— Greg Yost
Editor’s note: Xpress contacted the Citizen Times for a response but did not receive a reply by press time.