Your ballots for Oregon’s May 17 primary election should be in your hands by now, and it would be understandable if you were stunned by the literally dozens of candidates running for governor. (This is not a big issue for me; as a proudly unaffiliated voter, I have long since made peace with the boring primary ballots I receive.) If you’re looking for a crash course on where most of the candidates stand on the issues, the Oregon Capital Chronicle has you covered: It sent questionnaires to each candidate, got answers back from most of them, and has published the answers. Click here to check out the feature, which is a terrific example of the kind of political coverage that news outlets can offer online.
I did something similar this week with the Democratic candidates for the Benton County Board of Commissioners, Helen Higgins and Pat Malone, but I wanted to focus on just one issue, houselessness. I sent a series of questions to all three candidates (Republican Bill Currier is running unopposed for the GOP nomination) asking them to outline their positions on the issue. I’ve posted the results from Higgins and Malone (and will post Currier’s answers when I receive them). Click here to read the answers from Higgins. Click here to read the answers from Malone. I’ll probably try to do something similar on this issue for the mayoral and City Council races this fall.
Speaking of democracy, The New York Times has published a three-part examination of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. Here’s one of the conclusions in the first part: “To a degree not broadly appreciated outside Fox, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” is the apex of a programming and editorial strategy that transformed the network during the Trump era, according to interviews with dozens of current and former Fox executives, producers and journalists.” The series is part of the Times’ “Democracy Challenged” coverage.
Here’s something that’s very possibly happened to you: You’re on Facebook or some other favorite social media site, and you discover that a friend or relative has posted some information that you know is false — maybe your uncle in Florida is saying that the COVID vaccine sends a message to hostile aliens about which humans to kill first during the invasion. Do you respond? Do you let it slide? A new study from the United Kingdom suggests that many of you choose not to respond, due to anxiety and a desire to avoid conflict. While that finding may not be particularly surprising, it does suggest that just increasing media literacy in and of itself may not be enough to counter online misinformation. Harvard’s Nieman Labs had a story about the study.
One final note this week about democracy challenged: Evangelical churches — well, at least some evangelical churches — are hosting events devoted to spreading former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud and spreading the big lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen to members of their congregations. The New York Times’ Charles Homans had the story.
So if these reports about democracy challenged have you thinking that it’s time to pour yourself a nice glass of Oregon wine, I have bad news: Those chilly temperatures that we endured earlier this month may have devastated the Willamette Valley’s grape crop: Writing for The Oregonian/OregonLive, wine writer Michael Alberty reports that the valley may lose half of its grape crop. The timing of the frosty mornings couldn’t have been much worse for the grapes, coming at a time when vulnerable grape buds were just emerging from winter dormancy.
If you have time on Saturday afternoon, here’s an event of historical interest that you could consider attending: A plaque honoring Reuben Shipley, an enslaved man who was brought along the Oregon Trail in 1853 but who became a prosperous farmer and founder of Benton County, will be placed at his gravesite this weekend at the Mount Union Cemetery near Philomath. The plaque is the work of the National Society of The Daughters of the American Revolution and will be dedicated at a ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday at the cemetery, 2987 Mount Union Ave. Shipley’s story, as recounted in this story from The Oregonian/OregonLive, is remarkable: At one time, he owned more acreage in the Willamette Valley than any other Black resident. In fact, his donation of two acres of land for an interracial cemetery in Benton County marked the start of the Mount Union Cemetery. The public is invited to Saturday’s ceremony. The Gazette-Times had a short piece about this earlier in the week, but The Oregonian story goes into much more detail.
Now that some of the initial smoke over Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is dying down a bit, we’re starting to see somewhat more nuanced pieces about the transaction appear. This piece, by Adam Serwer of The Atlantic, makes an interesting case that business moguls tend to say they’re in favor of free speech — until it impacts their bottom lines.
The Oregonian/OregonLive has a Jeff Manning story looking back on the first 50 years of Nike, one of Oregon’s iconic companies (and I know “iconic” is overused, but in this case, the adjective is deserved). The story is told mostly through interviews with former Nike employees, who spoke to Manning in large part because they think Phil Knight and the company haven’t received the credit they deserve. The story is exclusive to Oregonian subscribers, but (as I may have noted in the past), the online subscription will set you back just $10 a month.
The Weekend Reader’s arts desk reminds you that it’s a busy weekend for local theater productions, with “Matilda the Musical” playing at the Majestic and the CSD Theaters production of “Mamma Mia!” at the Corvallis High School Main Stage. Click here to read my preview story about “Matilda.” Click here to read my curated calendar of local arts events. And even though I know that Poem in Your Pocket Day was Friday, one day still remains in April’s National Poetry Month. So there’s still time to pick a favorite poem and share it with someone. The poem in my pocket this year was by Oregon poet Kim Stafford, and it’s one that practically bursts with hope: Click here to read more about it.
That’s it for this weekend. See you next week.