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Plain Dealer writer wags finger over Traficant, Vindicator

Published: Sun, February 15, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)

By Todd Franko

Connie Schultz from the Cleveland Plain Dealer can give a pretty steely stare.

She also wags a good index finger as well.

Based on the skill and precision with which she stares and wags, I have to believe that the noted columnist, author and wife of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has plenty of experience.

She may possibly be the Tiger Woods of staring and wagging. I got both.

Tuesday night, I was a part of a great event at Youngstown State University as moderator of a panel that discussed Youngstown’s image as portrayed by the national media. Connie was among the event’s three panelists, along with Campbell native Marilyn Geewax, who works for National Public Radio.

The result of the 90-minute session attended by more than 150 people was that yes, we as a region have our problems, but they are problems shared by many cities. Yet, we’ve had them for so long, and followed an era of presumed invulnerability, that we have become a poster child for the fall of American industry. And media loves a poster child.

We also have great attributes unrelated to our struggles, as well as those character aspects born from our struggles. We have to tell that story. Media, in addition to loving poster children, loves surprises — and happy endings.

In telling our good story, we must also stop celebrating and embracing aspects of our negative history as if each is a badge of honor.

Connie pounced on this point as it transitioned into a chat on imprisoned former U.S. Rep. Jim Traficant. Connie wagged her finger, saying the newspaper has a role in making sure the former congressman is not celebrated.

That generated some applause.

She went further, saying that if people care about this community, then when Traficant gets out of prison, he should be encouraged to just shut up and quietly move on with the rest of his life and not draw attention to himself or Youngstown.

The wag made me think she saw our recent front page story about Jimbo T-shirts, etc., and that she wasn’t impressed by it.

Many other readers were also not impressed by our Traficant coverage. I took several phone calls.

Look, there’s not much interest on our part in “celebrating” Traficant. At least, I don’t have much interest.

But there’s a job we have in reporting what you do.

You are the news.

And when people choose to celebrate Traficant, it is part of who you are and, therefore, will be part of our newspaper.

Now, in making such events part of the paper and the daily dialogue, we need to have balance and diverse opinions.

If we reported only the pro-Traficant aspect of our community, you could then label us destructive or biased.

But to not show that such an element exists in our town would also, in a way, be biased and destructive.

Traficant will be released (perhaps “unleashed” might be a better word) later this year. We will try our best to avoid too many more wagged fingers from Connie and everyone else.


1projectgeniene(87 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

I completely agree with Connie regarding Traficant. He completely represents the old school mentality of this region of "What's in it for me?" It is time for us to move on from him and all he stands for with a new generation of leadership. Traficant = Youngstown albatross

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2aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

No ofense, but Youngstown hasn't exactly 'gotten better' since Traficant's been in prison.

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3aeparish(669 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

Sorry, offense.

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4JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps I missed it but who was the third panelist?

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5Thinker(15 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

What about Jimbo's involvement with the Youngstown Charm School while he was Sheriff?

This place allegedly helped condition mind-controlled subjects of the CIA's Monarch Project.

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6girardguy(7 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

If people had listened to Traficant's one minute speeches while he was on the hill we wouldn't have the mess we have today. Almost everything he warned would happen has happened. Just read the specches yourself and see what I mean. I happen to respect that kind of vision, and don't need some idiotic superman wannabee calling me and coutless others morons. Show me what Tim Ryan has done for us since he was elected, nothing as far as I can tell.

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7Askmeificare(1042 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

I haven't heard of that before. Please, where did you get your information? Where may I get further information on the Y.C.S. and what is happening / happened there? Thanks.

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8MikePrelee(38 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Franko,

There is certainly a pro-Traficant sentiment in the Mahoning Valley and the Vindicator is obligated to report on that considering the man's crimes and former elected position. However, is it necessary to print the story on page one with a color photograph? The paper has a local section where such a story would seem more logical.
I don't remember all the news from the day this story about the t-shirt shop was printed but I have to believe there were national events that carried greater impact.

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9ochi56(30 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

I live in a suburb of C-town; the mistake by the lake; the home of the burning river, etc, etc. Now, Plain Dealer vs. Vindicator; I believe both papers are owned by the same media conglomerate, that owns several other papers through-out the U.S. the only thing they have in common is that they are ANTI-TRAFICANT; Next, Connie Schultz - "People who live in glass houses ..... Should'nt be throwing stones!" The award winning journalist should be focused on the on-going corruption in county (Cuyahoga)government. Connie, Patty Meade, the Plain Dealer and the Vindicator need to review the transcripts of JT's trial; Do follow-up articles on those people who testified "under immunity" & how they were REWARDED for their "manufactured testimony" & following the 'script' prepared/authored by Assistant U.S.Attorney Craig Morford.(J.J. Cafaro = 'get-out-of-jail-FREE-card'; Capri Cafaro = APPOINTMENT to the Ohio Democratic House?/Senate? Whip; R. Allen Sinclair = Same as J.J.) Read the book 'TARGET: TRAFICANT' by Michael Collins Piper (American Free Press 645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE #100 Washington D.C. 20003)
Finnaly; Since JT is getting out soon, do an interview of juror #2, #3, #4 and #8;

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10wayoutthere(3 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

It's easier to point and wag a finger at someone else's mistakes than to look in your own back yard. Jim was good to me, he assisted in a serious situation and helped to resolve it for us, no one else stepped up to the plate. He fought for the under dogs in our community. Since his imprisionment, I have watched many in Congress commit far worse "crimes" than Jim, who get off with light sentences. One has to wonder why Jim was "targeted" and given such a harsh punishment. Granted, he was a maverick but while Jim was around, the under dogs were safe. I look forward to his release, it's been a long time in coming.

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11VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

Connie is deflecting interest in Cleveland's troubles by pointing to Y-town's problems. We are all in this together Connie. So, let me hear something constructive, not finger pointing and attempting to stifle the First Amendment. Sherrod Brown must be proud of you. Right now, neither of you get any support from me and it does not look good tomorrow either.

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12JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

The reality is that here people pretty much blindly followed Traficant at least in part because of the local paper(s); conversely, The Plain Dealer actually showed some spine and withdrew their endorsement of Dennis Kucinich after he spent most of his time trying to run presidential campaigns rather than run his district. Clearly there are two opposing points-of-view on how a paper should position itself in reporting politics, I tend to side with Connie and her paper.

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13VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

The PD had to drop their endorsement of Dennis because he was making himself a laughing stock on national stage. How could anyone endorse a quirky man who lead a major city to near bankruptcy.

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14scrooge(563 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

Look at the Traficant press that Connie has garnered with her vindictive comment. If she would (as the UConn basketball coach put it) "just shut up" Traficant would probably live a quiet life after release.

He did have his issues-and I agree with several of you who said she should pay more attention to her home turf- but the fact is Traficant did more GOOD for the valley than anyone BEFORE and (especially) SINCE.

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15JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

Kucinich sought his 6th term when the PD rescinded their endorsement, an endorsement they put forth after Cleveland's bankruptcy and maintained for 5 terms; I don't see how you can base their dropping the endorsement on his helping bankrupt the city.

I also personally think Traficant did some good things for his district but he was goofy on a totally different level than Kucinich has ever been. If you think DK was a laughing-stock how could you not think the same about JT?

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16captainlinger(659 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

I'd like to wag a different finger at Connie Schultz.

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17Stan(9923 comments)posted 7 years, 2 months ago

Connie Schultz is just after some attention and is using the name of Jim Traficant to get it. Most people dont know who she is nor do they give a crap.

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