Monday, August 14, 2023

'These are Hitler tactics and something has to be done.'

Meyer pronounced her first name "Joann." 
“These are Hitler tactics and something has to be done.”

Those were some of the last words said by Joan Meyer, 98, a newspaperwoman for 70 years, after police in Marion County, Kansas, raided her son Eric's newspaper and their home Friday, acting on a warrant obtained by a local restaurateur who apparently feared that the Marion County Record was going to publish a story, based on public records, that would keep her from getting a liquor license. The next day, Meyer collapsed and died, after telling journalists that she was upset and stressed by the invasion of her home.
"The crux of the police investigation seems to be whether the paper and its reporters committed identity theft and/or unlawful acts concerning computers in confirming Newell’s driving records. An affidavit justifying the warrant is being withheld by County Attorney Joel Ensey, whose brother owns the hotel where Newell has her restaurant," the editorial boards of The Wichita Eagle and the Kansas City Star said in a joint editorial.

"There could very well be more sinister motives in play here, involving the police chief himself. [Gideon] Cody was hired by Marion in April, after taking an early retirement from the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department, where he was a captain. According to Eric Meyer, the Record has been actively investigating the circumstances surrounding Cody’s departure from the KCMO department. Friday’s raid gives Cody and his subordinates access to reporters’ notes and materials from confidential sources who were interviewed as part of the newspaper’s investigation." Cody told The New York Times, “I believe when the rest of the story is available to the public, the judicial system that is being questioned will be vindicated,” but declined to discuss details.

UPDATE, Aug. 15: The Associated Press reports, Cody referred questions Monday to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, saying it was leading the investigation. The state agency, in turn, refused to say it had taken over the investigation, referring instead to a statement saying it had “joined” the investigation and seemed to try to distance itself from the raids."

The Kansas City and Wichita newspapers say Magistrate Laura Viar, "or the presiding district judge, should immediately revoke the overly broad search warrant she signed and declare that any evidence seized under it be inadmissible in court. Viar or the district judge should order the immediate return of all equipment and materials seized." We agree. --Al Cross, professor and director, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, University of Kentucky

UPDATE, Aug. 15: Bill Ketter, senior vice president of news for Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., one of the larger chains, wrote a column for CNHI papers in which he says "Anti-press rhetoric has also whiplashed small town America at a time when local newspapers are more needed than ever. They are a cornerstone of rural democracy."

UPDATE, Aug, 16: The Times honors Joan Meyer with an obituary.

No comments: