BCT “news” article – 1/28/16


This page was last updated on February 8, 2016.

Beaver County activists enlighten commissioners about the dangers of shale drilling; Tom Davidson; Beaver County Times; January 28, 2016.

Below is a critique of the subject article.

A Beaver County Times (BCT) cover-up?

On February 2, 2016, @ 12:21pm EST, I posted the following comment on the BCT website:

“I could be mistaken, but a quick search indicated Tom Davidson – this article’s author – is himself a Facebook member of the Beaver County Marcellus Shale Awareness Committee and has been for more than a year.”

The Beaver County Marcellus Shale Awareness Committee (BCMSAC) used to be known as the Beaver County Marcellus Shale Organizing Committee.  The group changed its name in October 2011.  The group’s Facebook site still uses the original name.  You’ll find the Facebook site isn’t limited to Marcellus shale issues; it also contains postings about other lefty causes.

Here’s how I found Tom Davidson’s (TD) connection to the BCMSAC.  I first checked the BCMSAC’s membership and found a member named Tom Davidson.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know what “BCT TD” looked like and nothing I could see about “Facebook TD” identified his employer.  I then checked “BCT TD’s” Twitter account and, as you would expect, it identifies him as “a staff writer at The Beaver County Times.” “BCT TD’s” Twitter image wasn’t good enough for me to claim a match with “Facebook TD,” however.  Fortunately, “BCT TD’s” Twitter page included a link to http://kingofgonzo.blogspot.com/ and “BCT TD’s” KingOfGonzo page includes a photo (his Facebook Badge) matching that of “Facebook TD.”

I’m not a journalist, but shouldn’t Mr. Davidson (TD) have disclosed his membership, or better yet, shouldn’t the BCT have assigned a writer without TD’s apparent conflict-of-interest problem?

After posting the comment, I kept checking back to make sure the comment moved from “under review” to “published” status.  It did.  On February 4th at about 1:30pm, however, I found my comment had been removed.  Had my comment been wrong, I would have expected someone from the BCT to post a comment to that effect.  The deletion without comment makes the BCT appear guilty.  Unfortunately, I have no way to prove my story.  While I document what, when, and where I make comments, I don’t print them or take screenshots.  So far, it appears no other effort has been made to cover up TD’s connection to the BCMSAC.  As of this critique’s publication date (see above), TD is still listed as a member.

In addition to the author’s apparent membership in the BCMSAC, below is additional relevant info the subject article didn’t mention.

First, the subject story said, “The Rev. Jim Hamilton of Ambridge and Bob Schmetzer of South Heights are both part of the Beaver County Marcellus Shale Awareness Committee, a group that’s been in place since 2010 and opposes further drilling in the county” and identified Mr. Schmetzer as the group’s president.  What the story didn’t mention is Mr. Schmetzer is also VP of the Progressive Democrats of America – PA 12th CD Chapter, aka Beaver County Blue (BCB).

Second, BCMSAC is one of BCB’s front groups.  As I noted above, the Facebook site isn’t limited to Marcellus shale issues; it also contains postings about other lefty causes.  All of BCB’s management are members of BCMSAC and Randy Shannon, BCB’s treasurer, is one of the three admins of the BCMSAC Facebook page.  As noted above, BCB’s VP is BCMSAC’s president.

Third, one BCB member/manager is co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS), originally a splinter group of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), two others are members of the CCDS national coordinating committee, and a fourth is a rank-and-file member or a non-member who just participates in their activities.

Carl Davidson (KD) is the BCB webmaster and perhaps BCB’s unofficial leader.  I didn’t spend much time on it, but I didn’t find anything to indicate KD and TD are or are not related.

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