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By Jerry C. Cirino
October 3, 2023
On The Record

Editor’s Note: This is the story that inspired the creation of On The Record. Much has happened since it was written in August last year. Significantly, the new state legislative maps passed unanimously with a bipartisan vote on September 26. As it happens, that was also the day we launched On The Record.

We held on to this column as a prime example of state media stonewalling. They refused to publish our side of the story after pushing a vicious and multi-pronged attack accusing us of "torching democracy." It wasn't the first time we'd been stonewalled by state media. But we decided to make it the last time.

It began when the New Yorker magazine published an enormous hit-piece on the Ohio state legislature on August 6, 2022. The Cleveland Plain Dealer then ran a lengthy “news” story promoting the New Yorker’s hit piece. (Surely, it is just coincidence that the same company owns both publications.) The paper’s editor then used his podcast to enthusiastically endorse the hit piece.

Our press office sent a rebuttal by Sen. Jerry Cirino to the New Yorker but the magazine did not return our calls or answer our emails. We then sent his rebuttal to the Plain Dealer. The paper demanded the senator trim it to 200 words and submit it as a letter, not an editorial. He did. Then, nothing. Just crickets. We never heard back from the paper.

The Plain Dealer used to be a great newspaper. Now, it refuses to publish an opinion that challenges its leftist dogma. The New Yorker used to be a distinguished literary journal. The magazine is now just a long-winded version of all the other far-left and elitist outlets in the mainstream media, from MSNBC to the Plain Dealer.

This episode was the last straw. We launched On The Record so you can read editorials such as the one below, and see for yourself just how biased, out of touch, and obsolete the legacy media has become.

It was beneath the dignity of the New Yorker Magazine to spend 6,800+ words on the half-truths and blatant falsehoods in a hit-piece on Ohio’s political leadership in the article “State Legislatures Are Torching Democracy.”

Making matters worse, the Plain Dealer (owned by the same company as the New Yorker) thought it wise to promote the magazine’s misrepresentations by doing its own story on the article, titled, “Ohio’s gerrymandered legislature draws unfavorable national media attention.” 

Even more egregious, Editor Chris Quinn offered a full-throated endorsement of the New Yorker article in the Plain Dealer’s podcast on August 10, claiming, “This is a good piece,” and, “Everything in the article is true.” That is demonstrably false.  

The imagined legislative atrocities committed by Republicans are all loosely blamed on one bogeyman – gerrymandering. The New Yorker cites a leftist professor claiming, “The legislative-district maps in Ohio have been deliberately drawn so that many Republicans effectively cannot lose.” The facts show nothing could be further from the truth.

If legislative election results did not reflect the will of voters, Democrats should be able to win at least one statewide election. However, the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor, secretary of state, and treasurer are all Republicans. That is the will of the people. Ohio is now a solidly red state, plain and simple.

What turned Ohio red was not gerrymandering but raging Democratic radicalism. Our duly elected majority is not a subversion of democracy as the article wildly claims; it is a stalwart defense of democracy against an onslaught of radical progressivism. Ohio did not change. Democrats did.

Ohioans do not agree with the left’s radical attempts to legalize abortion up until birth; strip our right to self-defense; teach gender identity and sexual orientation to kindergartners; indoctrinate children with historically inaccurate and racist critical race theory; make girls compete against boys in sports; and engage in the sheer economic incompetence currently driving America over a cliff.

Not only is the New Yorker’s premise invalid, the article gets the basic facts wrong. Simply put, the Constitutional Amendment passed by the General Assembly and validated by voters requires compact districts, eliminating the ability to draw sprawling, oddly shaped, districts. It is politically dishonest to suggest that the Constitution mandates proportionally partisan districts. 

That’s what Democrats led by Eric Holder want. Guaranteed court-ordered gerrymandered outcomes. Ohioans didn’t vote for that. We should know. We wrote the law. And a federal court put an end to Holder’s attempt to hijack the process by using his National Democratic Redistricting Committee to gerrymander by lawfare.

The New Yorker also contends, “Republicans have siphoned off public funding to support failing, politically connected charter schools,” when the fact is Ohio has increased funding for all K-12 students by more than 120% since 1997. Just a year ago, the Ohio General Assembly passed a new school funding formula with a strong bipartisan 32-1 vote in the senate.

The article claims the legislature “rushed” through a law to arm school staff after “only minimal gun training.” Gov. Mike DeWine described the reality: "We worked closely with members of the legislature and other experts to carefully craft a law to ensure anyone authorized to carry a gun on school property would have thorough, school-specific training."

The New Yorker’s contention that Republicans are foisting an unpopular agenda on a captive electorate is absurd. Ohioans simply do not share the New Yorker’s views on everything from the right to self-defense to the right to life. The real problem for Democrats in Ohio is they’ve let special interest groups call the shots for them. If they keep pushing New York values on Midwestern common sense they will find themselves even more unpopular than President Biden. That’s how democracy works.

The height of absurdity is when Quinn frets, “What do you think the folks at Intel thought when they saw the New Yorker article” because “they’ve got to attract all sorts of highly educated employees to live in Ohio.” 

They are thinking, “Thank God we get to leave California,” where far-left Gov. Gavin Newsom has turned the state into a dystopian hellhole with the nation’s highest poverty rate, rolling blackouts, and out-of-control violent crime. We cannot wait to welcome California’s refugees to Ohio with open arms and a bright future.

Jerry Cirino represents Ohio Senate District 18