Is a North Hudson town willing to risk that you, our readers and the public, will not learn about certain public events? Events which you pay for as a taxpayer?
And just because someone in a political party position, not elected by you, is either embarrassed by bonafide real news, or can’t explain what is, frankly, indefensible?
A few days ago, HudsonTV reported on how the Democratic chairman of North Bergen pulls down $223,000 in salaries, while Donald Trump did quite well in the guy’s backyard.
It’s clearly news. Our traffic from viewers tells us that.
So it’s a little odd that North Bergen, through spokesman Paul Swibinski, called us within 36 hours that we published our story to say they’re pulling their ads from HudsonTV for three months.
When we asked why, we were told the town is “evaluating” its communications budget. In other words, how they spend your money!
Yet stopping ads sounds like — no, it is — a decision was made already.
The timing is highly suspicious.
It seems the “evaluating” is just a cover story to hide a retaliatory purpose against the free press. Now, you’d think that after Bridgegate, New Jersey’s clubby political community would’ve learned that cover stories don’t work so well.
You doubt us? Go ask Bill Baroni.
Or the Man Who Would Be President: Chris Christie.
There are First Amendment free speech issues at work here, with the strong scent of government payback on the news media, and by extension, you.
As for the town budget, we are all for fiscal responsibility and we approve of North Bergen evaluating how it spends your money!
North Bergen and Hudson residents seem to agree. That’s apparently why the story on John Belluardo was of so much interest.
Notably, HudsonTV has relied upon, and reproduced in their entirety in its articles, press releases from North Bergen’s spokesman Phil Swibinski. Swibinski, a principal in the Vision Media press relations firm founded by his parents Paul and Jean, is also the spokesman for many other Hudson County municipalities and agencies and currently is the spokesman for the reelection campaign of the Hackensack candidate slate headed by that city’s mayor, John Labrosse.
The threat by any government representative to any private company, and to the news media, raises disturbing implications as to whether government power is being used (or whether someone is involving government authority) to coerce private citizens. This raises a First Amendment issue. In politically sensitive and alert to actions which threaten the rights of the general public.
This is not the old Soviet Union. This is America. HudsonTV (unlike some other outlets) is not controlled by the government. We are the free and independent press.
This is New Jersey. You deserve better.