The Day American Journalism Died? Or, …We’re Not In Kansas Anymore! By: Brett Redmayne-Titley

Julian Assange sits in jail. Joan Meyer is dead!

Both, victims of America’s rapidly changing definition of Free Speech, Freedom of the Press and the once-vaunted 1st Amendment.

Was this past Friday the epitaph of American journalism?

In the most egregious example yet of America’s new love for Stasi-style populist democratic protections, this past Friday in Marion County, Kansas a similar authoritarian herd descended on that county’s newspaper of record and the homes of its publishers Eric Meyer and his mother Joan Meyer, 98, wife of the past publisher.

Joan Meyer is dead.

This outrage against American media must be made the bugle call for all to read and understand this ultimate violation of the judiciary, media and conscience. The American media has already become a hollowed-out shell of the no longer important proper tenets of journalism.

To tolerate such an overt- and public- attack is to thus state clearly, that forever, August 12 2023 is the day that Freedom of the Press in America was also declared… dead.

Decide for yourself.

In the rapid lead-up to this past Friday, the Meyer Family and the Marion County Record had been doing their job since 1948: Reporting and investigating for a town of 1700 and the surrounding county.

Eric Meyer, the current publisher is a former Milwaukee Journal reporter for twenty- years and professor at the University of Illinois for twenty-six more and is the son of the Record’s late editor-in-chief, Bill Meyer. His family bought the paper in 1998.

Beyond the Meyers and the Marion County Record, the other key players in this journalistic tragedy are: an aggrieved restaurant owner, Kari Newell; the new local sheriff, Gideon Cody,  and Marion County District Court Magistrate Judge Laura Viar.

And, in the role of the rat: Councilwoman Ruth Herbel.

Earlier that week Newell had invited local candidate Rep. Jake LaTurner (R) to speak at her restaurant. Eric Meyer went to cover the speech. In a town of 1700, that’s a good story.

But, with the new definition of free speech in mind, Newell had Marion police remove Meyer from her property.  With a police force summing five in total, Sherriff Cody was part of that decision.

Of course, that day’s censorship was an even better news story for the Record, which Newell failed to comprehend until the Thursday edition hit the streets.

In a related matter Newell, whose restaurant liquor license was up for renewal, had alleged to the same police that the Record had illegally obtained information about her having been arrested for DUI. The records could undermine Newell’s license application. State law prohibits issuing liquor licenses to applicants with felony DUI convictions.

Eric Meyer, writing to Councilwoman Herbel, stated clearly that the Record did not intend to publish information which was public record and that the information was provided by a third party.

This does appear to be true since the DUI allegations did appear on Facebook previously. The speculation is that the DUI defamation was posted by Newell’s soon-to-be ex-husband.

However, none of this was sufficient for Magistrate Viar to question the police department’s request for a full-blown search warrant of the Newspaper’s offices and the homes of the two publishers, supposedly to protect Newell.

Conspicuously, the affidavit required for the search warrant has yet to be revealed as to who submitted it to Viar. The affidavit would have been filed by Marion County officials. The warrant, signed by Magistrate Viar specifically targeted ownership of computers capable of being used to “participate in the identity theft of Kari Newell.”

But, as any judge should know, a DUI record is found easily in the state’s database which insurance companies regularly peruse to determine possible application fraud.

It is important to note that the normal procedure for a moving party, the court or the police to obtain records from a news agency is called a subpoena. It is also issued by a judge and then served.  Professionally. A search warrant is used only in criminal matters when the destruction of evidence is alleged. Viar did not speak with Myer or the Record, and instead relied exclusively on the currently anonymous affidavit for the search warrant.

This the police used in SWAT team fashion on Aug 12, 2023. The cops, fully locked and loaded, simultaneously seized all records, computers and files from the homes of Eric and Jean Myers and took a cell phone right out of the hands of one employee leaving her injured while providing the same public service at the Record.

All this, because of some inconsequential restaurant owner?

The aforementioned actions would seemingly leave any good journalist to investigate two obvious possible connections: One: Judge Viar is connected to Newell. Or, two: there’s something up in the Sheriff’s department.

The answer at this moment strongly leans on number two.

Marion is a small town and small towns like big town cops for replacing outgoing positions. It has been reported and well documented by other good journalists that far too often the bad apples from the big cities, those who have departed to escape atonement for the results of internal investigations, they instead, just move along quietly.

Then they and their surreptitious predilections for various forms of backhanded illegality land somewhere else.

That somewhere else may have been, for incoming Sheriff Cody, Marion, Kansas.

The New York Times’s Timothy Williams highlighted this national problem in a feature article on Sept 11, 2016, titled, Cast-Out Police Officers Are Often Hired in Other Cities.”

In a report by President Obama’s task force on 21st-century policing, law enforcement officials and others recommended that the Justice Department establish a database in partnership with the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training, which manages a database of officers who have been stripped of their police powers.

There are some 21,000 names on the list.

According to Eric Meyer, The Marion Record was preparing some good investigative reporting, with this national story in mind.

And… Sheriff Cody.

Meyer said that, before the raid, his newspaper had investigated Cody’s background and his time at the Kansas City Police Department before he came to Marion. He declined to provide details of the newspaper’s investigation of Cody which included the identities of those who made the allegations against Cody. All were in a computer seized by police.

. “I really don’t think it would be advisable for me to say what it was we were investigating, other than to characterize the charges as serious….,” Meyer said.

Meyer told The Star that his newspaper didn’t publish a story about the allegations.“We didn’t publish it because we couldn’t nail it down to the point that we thought it was ready for publication,” he said. “He (Cody) didn’t know who our sources were. He does now.” Meyer also said the newspaper told city leaders they had received information about Cody but could not confirm it.

The person he told was Councilwoman Herbel.

Newell’s statements of the past two days are strangely duplicitous and further damning of Magistrate Viar’s decision. Not the Record.

First, Newell accused Herbel of “recklessly and negligently” sharing the information with “others” in violation of state privacy and identity-theft laws. Herbel has denied doing so.

Despite shifting blame to Herbel, she next blamed her estranged husband. Newell, writing Friday under a changed name on her personal Facebook account, said she “foolishly” received a DUI in 2008 and “knowingly operated a vehicle without a license out of necessity.” But added, “[the]…entire debacle was brought forth in an attempt to smear my name, jeopardize my licensing through ABC (state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division), harm my business, seek retaliation, and for personal leverage in an ongoing domestic court battle.” [emph.added]

Newell’s only current allegations against the Record seem limited only to her personal venom towards press freedoms which she highlighted by saying,

“Journalists have become the dirty politicians of today, twisting narrative for bias agendas, full of muddied half-truths…We rarely get facts that aren’t baited with misleading insinuations.”

Certainly, Newell’s statements are not sufficient to legally justify a search warrant.

So, who issued an affidavit strong enough to justify Viar’s search warrant?

The pipeline to Magistrate Viar’s chambers is the shortest from Sherriff  Gideon Cody’s office. A little further, the City Council offices of Ruth Herbel.

Kari Newell is just small potatoes with a rap sheet.

So… what the fuck is going on!

The full weight of journalism must bring this story and its players to account.

What has taken place in Marion, KS must today be translated properly: This raid by Sheriff Cody is in fact the distilled,  purely totalitarian modern definition of freedom of the press. In Marion on Friday, this definition has been fully exposed for public consumption after generations of slow grinding pressure under the boot.

Should America not react terminally to this incredible fundamental violation, it will instead certify it.

A full investigation must be undertaken with Federal authority. If guilty, the judge must be removed. The Sheriff arrested for criminal abuse of process. Congresswoman Herbel’s confidence forever questioned.

And, every media publication must demand this retribution. Full stop!

As to Kari Newell, she can be merely left to attempt business in the face of a small town, Bud Light-esque purge of her sins against a local newspaper and its readers.

Most importantly, the Marion Record must be hailed nationally as the place of that moment when we all – every remaining  good journalist- finally pushed back. Hard.

98-year-old Joan Meyer died last Sunday. The newspaper said Joan Meyer had been “stressed beyond her limits and overwhelmed by hours of shock and grief” following the raid.

Let this horror story become a bold, stark asterisk forever on the masthead of the Marion County Record.

If not, then merely a sad tear… as we passively watch…nay, approve of…

 “The Day American Journalism Died.”

                                                          -THE END-

About the Author: Brett Redmayne-Titley has spent the last twelve years documenting the “Sorrows of Empire.” He has authored over 200 articles all of which have been published and often republished and translated by news agencies worldwide. An archive of his published work can be found at  He can be contacted at live-on-scene ((@))

The author’s new book, “THERE!” is just out. 18 chapters of the best in old-style on-scene reporting. Please support my work by purchasing a copy from Amazon Books.  All donations are gratefully appreciated.

 Stand-up! It…Is…Time!

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