Updated July 2, 2005








Amazing Special Offers from the Barnes Review Magazine

My page   Tell-a-friend about this page



Reporter Who Told Story of 2004 Vote Thievery Hushed by Mainstream Media Mogul


By Greg Szymanski

Some people say Chicago Tribune columnist Robert Koehler works inside the belly of the beast, reporting for a corporate medium that is hungry for money but short on truth telling. Able to spit out a few morsels of truth every now and again, Koehler describes his unique position a little differently, suggesting it’s more like floating helplessly on top of a gigantic whale’s back instead of rumbling around inside its belly.

Wherever he sits, one of his recent columns, indicating that the 2004 presidential election was stolen, caused the ugly beast to let out a fierce roar, leading to a heated controversy inside the Tribune newsroom.

“It was a definite body blow,” said Koehler this week from his suburban home in Chicago.

To fully understand what Koehler means by a “body blow” and the ensuing controversy surrounding his April 14 column entitled “The silent scream of numbers: The 2004 election was stolen,” it’s important to understand how Koehler is positioned in respect to the Tribune, the employer who cuts his paycheck.

Koehler wears two hats. First, he’s one of the editors for The Chicago Tribune web site, meaning he manages and distributes the work of other columnists under contract by the Tribune, sending their stories to newspapers across the country who pay the Tribune parent company for this service.

Next, Koehler has developed his own column, separate and apart from his editing duties. Today, he’s published in 12 different newspapers, including The Chicago Tribune. Each newspaper, however, is not obligated to run his stories; the decision of what to print is based on content.

“Only a few papers decided to run my stolen election piece, and the Tribune wasn’t one of them,” said Koehler about his story that didn’t get much action in the mainstream papers but spread like a wildfire on the Internet.

“I want to point out, however, the politics of the Tribune are different than mine. But that’s OK. They are, of course, free to run whatever they’d like, and I respect that.”

But what Koehler didn’t like was the way the Tribune bosses responded to his column even though it never appeared in their paper.

“Basically, they wrote a rebuttal column criticizing my point of view regarding something that never ran in their newspaper in the first place,” added Koehler, saying this struck him as a bit strange, to say the least.

“Frankly, it made me a little angry, and I wanted an explanation.”

The rebuttal column, which treated Koehler like “Peck’s Bad Boy” gone mad with conspiracy theories, ran in the Tribune shortly after the controversial story appeared to be gaining momentum in cyberspace, a place where independent thought still roams free without corporate control and censorship.

After the Tribune’s response appeared, Koehler and his bosses engaged in an inner-office squabble, leading to Koehler’s decision to write a rebuttal to the rebuttal, a decision Koehler later discarded after being convinced it was better to leave personal inter-office fights out of the newspapers.

“I really wanted to write a rebuttal, but later reconsidered sending it over the wires since I thought our office disputes may be leading the reader away from the real issue of potential election fraud,” said Koehler.

To get some measure of intellectual satisfaction, Koehler decided to write a common letter to the editor, expressing his displeasure over his own newspaper’s reaction, which the Tribune printed without censorship.

After the dust settled and the parties made their peace, Koehler said he learned a valuable lesson about the mainstream media’s obsession with controlling free speech by silencing diverse and controversial opinions.

“I understand it’s the Tribune’s call, but basically they made my story sound like a total conspiracy [theory],” said Koehler, who has vowed to keep following the election fraud issue as well as other stories other mainstream journalists may not touch.

So what did Koehler write that was considered so controversial by the Establishment press?

“Was the election of 2004 stolen?” asked Koehler in his column. “Thus is the question framed by those who don’t want to know the answer. Anyone who says yes is immediately a conspiracy nut, and the listener’s eyeballs roll. So let’s not ask that question.”

Listen to the opening paragraphs of Koehler’s controversial column as a shocking reminder of the task ahead: As they slowly hack democracy to death, we’re as alone—we citizens—as we’ve ever been, protected only by the dust-covered clichés of the nation’s founding: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” It’s time to blow off the dust and start paying the price.

The media are not on our side. The politicians are not on our side. It’s just us, connecting the dots, fitting the fragments together, crunching the numbers, wanting to know why there were so many irregularities in the last election. . . . This is not about partisan politics. It’s more like: “Oh no, this can’t be true.”

Instead of falling into the “conspiracy nut” classification by making blanket accusations, Koehler then provided facts and details, posing serious questions about voter disfranchisement, electronic voter machine irregularity and ongoing disputes about exit polls not matching the election’s final results. Questions like:

Let’s simply ask why the lines were so long and the voting machines so few in Columbus and Cleveland and inner-city and college precincts across the country, especially in the swing states, causing an estimated one-third of the voters in these precincts to drop out of line without casting a ballot.

This, mind you, is just for starters. We might also ask why so many Ph.D.-level mathematicians and computer programmers and other numbers-savvy scientists are saying that the numbers don’t make sense. . . . Indeed, the movement to investigate the 2004 election is led by such people, because the numbers are screaming at them that something is wrong.

And we might, no, we must, ask—with more seriousness than the [mainstream] media have asked— about those exit polls, which in years past were extraordinarily accurate but last November went haywire, predicting Kerry [winning] by roughly the margin by which he ultimately lost to Bush. This swing is out of the realm of random chance, forcing chagrined pollsters to hypothesize a “shy Republican” factor as the explanation; and the media have bought this evidence- free absurdity because it spares them the need to think about the F-word: fraud.

Not Copyrighted. Readers can reprint and are free to redistribute - as long as full credit is given to American Free Press - 645 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Suite 100 Washington, D.C. 20003