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‘WE MISSED ONE’

From Mail Tribune and Ashland Tidings owner and publisher Steven Saslow.

The Mail Tribune has a policy that does not allow publishing of opinions which are not based in fact, defamatory, or intended solely to mislead and damage reputations.

We take great care to verify the basis of fact for all Letters to the Editor and Guest Opinions. At a minimum, corroborating information to verify the factual basis of a submission is performed on a regular basis.

But recently we missed one.

In a Guest Opinion (“Commissioners failed leadership test on COVID”) published Sunday, April 17, Terrie Martin writes:

“While our hospitals have struggled to find beds, while our health care workers slept in their cars to prevent taking the virus home and infecting their families, while the county’s medical officer and administrator pleaded for leadership and were ignored at every meeting, while our state called out the National Guard to help at local hospitals and our elderly and immuno-compromised friends and family hid at home, trying to stay safe, our commissioners stubbornly refused to try to protect us.”

The Mail Tribune missed identifying (see bold text) that these statements are patently false, and defamatory. Publishing them violated our policy.

The statements could have been easily debunked by listening to the readily available archived recordings of Board of Commissioners meetings or by a simple phone call to the Jackson County administrator and/or the former medical director.

It is always our goal to report, and stick to, the facts. And please know, we do not take sides with anyone or any organization.

But as it relates to the Board of Commissioners' response to the pandemic, the Mail Tribune is well aware of the list of measures it undertook to protect the community.

We forgot to review the substance of a nearly two-hour meeting attended by members of our editorial staff, Administrator Danny Jordan and Commissioner Rick Dyer.

In addition, the Mail Tribune has reported steps the Board of Commissioners has taken on multiple occasions. The publishing of Terrie Martin’s statements directly conflicts with previous facts as reported in the Mail Tribune.

The Mail Tribune apologizes for its mistake in allowing false statements and misrepresentations to be published. These alleged actions, or nonactions, were used to connect the commissioners to some of the tragic COVID-related deaths in our county.

Publishing sometimes legitimizes false or misleading statements of opinions. There is no place for that in the Mail Tribune.