Letter: Why aren’t local media covering possible cuts to vets’ benefits?

Asheville’s two main sources of published information, Mountain Xpress and the Asheville Citizen-Times, do a great job of covering veterans-related events like VA town halls and local efforts to help homeless veterans, as well as reporting on the local VA press releases and the local facility.

Unfortunately, however, as a debate is raging in Washington, D.C., about President Trump’s budget proposals for the VA, which include a possible veterans’ benefit cutoff for over 300,000 disabled vets, hikes in medication co-pays and what the American Legion is calling “a stealth move to privatize vets’ healthcare and eventually shut VA hospitals,” which, in my opinion, is more important to veterans and affects our lives more than anything local that media here covers, I have seen absolutely nothing, zero, zip.

I have to ask why, if local media support American veterans, these main sources of local info are not reporting on the battle going on in Washington over the VA and the future of all vets who served honorably?

During the campaign and when he was here in Asheville, President Trump mentioned veterans every day, and many veterans voted for him because they believed him. Were they wrong to trust Trump? Perhaps if local media were covering Trump’s budget proposals, veterans could make an informed decision on that. I must add as well, that local coverage of Trump’s entire budget proposals, which affect everyone, are not being covered very well either. I call both these points a failure of local media to serve and inform the community on Trump cutback proposals, which could have severe impact on our area.

FYI, I contacted local Republican “leader” Carl Mumpower and offered to debate him on all this. (He offered to debate in a report by the A C-T, which they thought was more newsworthy than reporting on Trump’s budget proposals.) He did call me back to decline and then hung up on me. I offered to debate him at Pritchard Park because of the historical nature of the park for political use, and I wanted to debate him in an area homeless vets would feel comfortable in. He said, “My time is too valuable to debate on street corners” and hung up.

— John Penley

Editor’s note: We always appreciate suggestions about how Xpress can improve its local news coverage. We’ll take this suggestion under advisement — though the reality is that, at any given moment, multiple stories call out for coverage, and our resources are limited.

Xpress also contacted Carl Mumpower, who offered this response: “I regret that Mr. Penley feels it necessary to take liberties with our discussion. The Buncombe County Republican Party’s offer was to join any organized political group in open debate [see http://avl.mx/3vw/]. We have two groups who have accepted the challenge, and I look forward to that opportunity. In contrast, Mr. Penley was seeking a personal public forum. He is correct that I am a bit too busy to indulge him — especially on the basis of threats to ‘go to the media’ if I did not. …”

The Citizen-Times declined to comment.