For over 20 years I have had extensive interaction with Mr. Randy Schultz, former writer of the editorial page at the Palm Beach Post and once a ‘make or break’ opinion maker in the Palm Beach County market.  Schultz is now relegated to the status of a cyber-space blogger with his weekly south Palm Beach County blog, ‘CityWatch’.

Some readers in this market place still consider Schultz relevant.  The Economic Forum is featuring him in their December 19th program and expects he will provide an “overview of 2017 with comments on political events at the state and local level.”

Of particular note related to his current day nose for news, Schultz, completely missed the mark with the Boca Raton political scandal story about Mayor Susan Haynie’s secret financial ties to developer/landowners, James and Marta Batmasian. This story was originally put directly in Schultz’s hands in March of 2017. He concluding there was ‘no there, there’ and buried the story until his recent December writings in ‘CityWatch’ conceding that there is cause for concern.

In March of 2017 Schultz treated the story as unimportant because it did not fit with his desired outcome of the 2017 Mayor election in Boca Raton, and the establishment story line that all is well in Boca Raton politics.

Schultz was scooped by Palm Beach Post reporter Lulu Ramadan in her on-going series uncovering this hidden relationship and its ethical ramifications, it’s effect on Haynie’s bid for County Commissioner, and the on-going inquiries by third party agencies with subpoena powers capable of getting to the bottom of the facts.

Boca Magazine provides Schultz with his ‘bully-pulpit’.

His articles on South County and city politics in Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton appear in Boca Magazine regularly and the Sun Sentinel features his regular comments on their editorial page. One has to wonder how the editorial leaders in these news outlets feel about being scooped on the most important Palm Beach County political corruption story of this decade – Haynie/Batmasian story.

With regards to the opening question, ‘Journalist or Cyber-Bully’, Boca Magazine leadership holds Mr. Schultz up as a reputable and experienced journalist in the marketplace, a questionable assessment at best. There are many detractors who hold a less than flattering opinion on Schultz’s editorial skills.  Example abound suggesting Mr. Schultz has become ineffective and overtly biased with his editorial tactics.   (See the suggested reading listed below).

A pervasive theme runs throughout Schultz’s comments over the years, to discredit anyone who voices opinions not supporting his agenda.

Dating as far back as 2006 thru 2010 with his coverage of former Boynton Beach CRA Director Lisa Bright and her sexual harassment claims against jailed Mayor Jose Rodriguez, and called out by Jack Furnari’s April 2012 article, ‘The Corruption of Randy Schultz and the Palm Beach Post’ are but a few of Schultz’s detractors.  Furnari’s story involved then State Attorney, Michael McAuliffe, and former State Attorney Candidate, David Aronberg.

More recent examples of his cyber-bullying tactics are found in writings about individuals like Boca Raton Councilwoman Andrea O’Rourke, Architectural Designer Margaret Fitzsimmons and Boca Raton Resident Katie MacDougall.

The common denominator for these ‘bully’ tactics are simple, Schultz wants to sway public opinion on important local issues not report on it. His targets are frequently women and are always designed to silence the opposing voice.

It is fair to hold differing opinions.  That is not the question, but journalism is about presenting the facts not painting them.  Schultz does not offer alternatives to an argument but rather hides behind the editorial label while clouding the character of those speaking out on current events.

I know this divisive tactic only too well, as do many others. Plato would label him, self-appointed Philosopher King and I expect Schultz would gladly accept that title.

To support the contention that he is more ‘cyber-bully’ than ‘journalist’, a definition of ‘bully’ is offered:

According to the American Psychological Association, “Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions.”  Although bullying is often associated with children, as the American Psychiatric Association points out, bullying is “not just a kids’ problem.”  Although bullying has certainly existed for a long time, the increased use of technology and social media has brought with it a specific form of bullying know commonly as ‘cyber bullying.’ Especially as it relates to conversations had over Internet blogs, forums, articles, etc.

Cyber bullying shows itself in a number of different ways, two (2) of which are referenced here and can be seen in Mr. Schultz’s writings:

  1. 1. A synchronicity – Since many digital interactions do not occur in real time, cyber bullies not only have more time to craft undermining responses but also do not have to deal with the immediate reactions of others.
  2. Solipsistic Introjections – After an individual makes a comment, the cyber bully assigns all kinds of disparaging and often false information to that person in an attempt to fill in the ambiguities of their personality.

Another relevant term that summarizes the above and that has become a popular term in the contemporary Internet lexicon is “Trolling.” Trolling is the practice of behaving in a deceptive, destructive, of disruptive manner with no apparent instrumental purpose. Simply put, the troll is not interested in having an actual conversation but instead derailing them with false, misleading, and distracting rhetoric. Often, this is done for no other purpose than the sheer pleasure of seeing what happens when others are attacked or incited.

In conclusion, as suggested by the Economic Forum invitation, Randy Schultz may certainly be “a crowd pleaser to some and a lightning rod to others.”  The question however is whether he is any longer relevant in the marketplace or whether he is simply riding the proverbial wave of his past notoriety as the ‘Former Editor of the Palm Beach Post.’

 Judging the question of ‘journalist versus cyber-bully’ is for you, the reader, to make.  Below are a series of articles for your reference in making such a judgment….

Al Zucaro, Publisher

American Psychiatric Association. 2016. Bullying: Not Just a Kids’ Problem. https://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/apa-blog/2016/10/bullying-not-just-a-kids-problem

American Psychological Association. 2017. Bullying. http://www.apa.org/topics/bullying/

Grohol, John. 2014. Trolls Just Want To Have Fun? https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/02/16/trolls-just-want-to-have-fun/

Suggested reading links: