I Stand With Chuck

Last weekend, Chuck Miller, one of the Times Union’s longtime bloggers, posted his annual April Fools Day blog entry, and ultimately, his last blog for the Times Union. Chuck has blogged for the TU for over eight years and has blogged every single day during that time.
Every single day.
Every day for over eight years, Chuck has given us a peek at his life. Sometimes it was an issue he was facing in his personal life, a perfect photo opportunity or photography competition, fun with telemarketers, or an entry into his popular and imaginative Collarworld series chronicling the afterlife of pets. Whatever the subject, Chuck posted faithfully every day for over eight years, and that includes eight years of April Fools Day posts.
Well, this year’s April Fools post apparently didn’t sit well with the higher ups at the Times Union, and Chuck’s April Fools post was pulled. What’s more (and worse) Chuck was then suspended and locked out from his blog. According to the Times Union’s editor, Rex Smith, it is because there’s no room for “fake news” under the Times Union banner. Or rather, that’s the “official” excuse. It is much more likely that a number of factors came into play here, such as Chuck’s frequent and valid criticism of the Times Union or its staff, some of whom are also bloggers, or maybe the fact that Chuck had been working on moving to his own site to continue blogging and was leaving the Times Union blogs anyway.
Whatever the real reason, the claim from Mr. Smith about there being no room for “fake news” under the Times Union banner holds about as much water as a sieve. If his concern is “fake news” on his newspaper’s website, there are better examples than Chuck’s brilliantly written April Fools blog, that no rational person would have ever mistaken for a legitimate, believable piece of news. Has Mr. Smith ever seen some of the politically oriented blogs hosted by the Times Union?
It is because of this blatantly heavy-handed and seemingly dishonest treatment of Chuck Miller by the Times Union’s management that some of my fellow bloggers and I are raising our voices in support of Chuck. Will Chuck return to blogging at the Times Union? That’s not likely, but that’s not the point. For over eight years Chuck provided the Times Union with daily content and traffic, all of which help generate advertising revenue, and none of which Chuck was paid for. Chuck deserves better than being tossed out like he was. He deserves an apology from the Times Union and specifically, from Rex Smith, for the way he was treated.
The following is a letter written by friend and fellow blogger Judd Krasher to Rex Smith stating how we feel about this situation, and I am proud to add my voice along with my fellow bloggers, and stand with Chuck Miller.

Dear Mr. Smith:

We write to you as members of the Times Union’s blog community. We value the ability to express our independent viewpoints on a variety of topics on the Times Union website. We also know our collective efforts drive traffic to the Times Union website, create a more robust site, and, ostensibly, significantly aid web ad revenue. As such, we expect that our free speech is never hindered.

To our dismay, you suppressed the speech of one of our fellow bloggers, Chuck Miller. Mr. Miller, as you know, posted his annual April Fools Day post. For this year, he engaged in political satire, ‘announcing’ that Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway would be a keynote speaker at the University at Albany. The now deleted post read, in part, “Conway, who will also receive an honorarium as a Doctor of Humane Letters from the University at Albany, has announced that her speech to the graduating class of 2017 will be on the topic of “How I Made America Great Again: Convincing the Fake Media To Appreciate My Alternative Facts.””

Mr. Miller’s post was met with a heavy-handed and ill-advised measure to delete a humorous post that no rational reader would view as a news article. Furthermore, you issued a public apology and banned Mr. Miller from being part of our blogging community. In summation, Mr. Smith, you sent a terrible signal about how the Times Union management views its blogging community. This kind of behavior from the leadership of the Times Union, an institution that should fiercely defend the 1st Amendment, is repugnant.

There are all kinds of blog posts on the Times Union website. There are posts that question the logic of your editorial board, posts that share stories of personal triumph and struggle, and posts that fastidiously defend Donald Trump, despite demonstrably false claims. No matter the content, these posts remain. Yet, in Mr. Miller’s case, you inexplicably crossed a serious line.

Therefore we are demanding you issue Mr. Miller a public apology for your troubling overreaction and assurance that the speech of the members of the Times Union blogging community will never be unreasonably restricted in any way from Times Union management. Anything short of this will result in us collectively reconsidering our relationship with the Times Union.


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