Former N.J. Senator In Blog War With ‘Record’ Editorial Page Editor

By: Joe Strupp

When E&P broke the news that The Record of Hackensack, N.J., was planning to vacate its home building and move into smaller quarters who knew it would spark a war of words between the paper’s editorial page editor and a prominent Garden State politician?

But that seems to have happened.

Shortly after E&P reported June 30 that The Record was seeking to vacate its home building and take up space in the same location as its sister daily, The Herald News of West Paterson, former Sen. Robert Torricelli took aim at the North Jersey Media Group flagship with venom.

On his blog at www.politickernj.com, a top New Jersey political site, Torricelli fumed about the Record in a July 1 posting that all but wished for the paper’s demise.

“The Record announced yesterday that it was closing its Hackensack offices and ‘reinventing’ itself. It was actually announcing its own death without the benefit of the Obit page,” Torricelli wrote. “It reminded me of the death of an aging uncle. You felt badly because of the loss but you remembered all of the times that he kicked the dog and yelled at the kids.

“It’s a death march that started long ago. A generation ago, the Record was the Bible for suburban living in Bergen County. Every local football game, road closing and store opening filled its pages,” he added. “It was ‘A Friend of the People it Serves’. Somewhere it all fell apart.”

Later, Torricelli got even more critical, stating: “?.Somewhere the Record stopped becoming a mirror of the happy suburban life and it became mean. Parents no longer came home to the evening paper and read about community life but were exposed to an endless barrage of columns, editorials and news articles that exposed everyone as greedy, corrupt, or inept.”

Three days later, Record Editorial Page Editor Alfred Doblin shot back in the paper’s pages. In a column he stated: “? Torricelli concluded that because it was reported that The Record will be vacating its flagship building in Hackensack, it soon will be folding. It’s an interesting conclusion. More interesting is Torricelli’s reason for our supposedly imminent demise: We’re mean. Being lectured on meanness by the likes of Bob Torricelli is akin to Amy Winehouse leading a rehab retreat for substance abusers.”

He later added, “Bob, Bob, Bob – I hope you don’t mind my calling you Bob, but it seems the friendlier way of addressing you – we’re not mean at The Record. And the role of a suburban newspaper is not just to mirror life – and life isn’t always good, Bob – it’s to report the news and, on the opinion and editorial pages, to comment on the news.”

Finally, referencing Torricelli’s comment about crying when the paper closed, Doblin stated: “.. As I recall, the only one who cried when you announced that you were leaving the Senate was you. So please save your tears, Bob. You need them for yourself. Did that sound too mean?”

That column can be found at:
http://www.northjersey.com/opinion/moreviews/22975479.html

It took a few weeks, but Torricelli finally struck back, in a posting on Wednesday that referred to the paper as the “Hacks of Hackensack” and all but accused the Record of seeking a political payoff through the former senator: “Now let’s stroll down memory lane together and consider the ethics of the Record. They’ve had something to say about everybody in Bergen County. How about them?

“There was the time that the Publisher asked to meet with me after an Editorial Board Meeting. He needed help with an environmental problem and gave me a thousand dollar check for a Pennsylvania Congressman. I wanted to go home and take a shower.

“Then there was the time that a political reporter was found to be taking ‘outside income’ from political opponents of mine while he was assigned to report on my campaign. The reporter was, appropriately, removed from the paper but The Hacks refused to explain or apologize to their readers.”

That posting is at:
http://www.politickernj.com/torricelli/21705/torricelli-
record-aka-hacks-hackensack

Late Wednesday, Doblin told E&P in a voice mail that he would not fire back: “I’m not planning any response to Bob Torricelli’s piece. I have written my column on it and that is pretty much all I am doing on it.”

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