What Makes A Bully?

5

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:

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Alfred Zucaro has resided in Palm Beach County since 1982 and has been a resident of Boca Raton since 2008. A graduate of Fordham University, he holds a Magna Cum Laude degree in Economics. Mr. Zucaro attended Nova University receiving a Juris Doctorate Law Degree in 1986. He is a member in good standing with the Florida Bar, practicing in the area of Immigration Law for the majority of his career. Currently he is manager/member of Palm Beach Investment and Finance LLC, a USCIS approved regional center identifying foreign investment leading to permanent resident status. Mr. Zucaro served as a City Commissioner in West Palm Beach from 1995 to 2002 and as the President of the City Commission in 2000/2001. He has also been a member of and/or served on the Economic Council, the Business Development Board, the Film and Television Commission, the Tourist Development Council, the Workforce Alliance and the Palm Beach International Film Festival. Of particular interest is his founding of the World Trade Center Palm Beach, an organization that focuses on international economic development. Married to Yvonne Boice, they are avid world travelers having visited 6 continents and dozens of countries since their 2008 nuptials.

5 COMMENTS

  1. 15 years ago, Schultz could be counted on to provide fair reporting but I don’t that holds true any longer. To me, perhaps he didn’t report on Haynie’s relationship with the developer – because Commissioner Abrams wants Haynie as his replacement. She is pro development; she is the last thing Palm Beach county needs. We already have commissioners reneging on the promise made in 1999 when voters overwhelming approved the purchase of land in the Ag Reserve for preservation. The problem with Florida and, perhaps all the states, is that any developer can propose any ridiculous development and the state, county, city, has to look at the proposal and if they can’t find any reason to stop it, it goes forward and the quality of life goes down. Our elected officials overlook quality of life or perhaps they can’t look at it, I really don’t know. Back to Schultz. I barely get the newspaper so his opinion means nothing to me and I’m sure many people feel the same way. Plus, there’s so many new people moving down here every second of every day that I doubt they know who he is either.

    Let me end with this thought. You called Schultz a bully, well, we have a bully in the White House so I think many people see his fine example and feel free to adopt the same nasty behavior. I’m not standing up for Schultz and I do not agree with bullying, by anyone. I’m simply making an observation.

  2. Is Randy Schultz just an angry, bitter, disappointed old man?
    He dog whistles vile innuendo regarding the motives of litigants suing city hall over a development proposed for east Palmetto Park Rd. When citizens united to oppose a large corporation’s plans to develop part of our waterfront, Schultz cast them as villains.
    And by calling for an investigation into possible conflicts of interest behind one council member’s votes, this somehow makes Boca Watch and its supporters’ evil.

    No matter how thinly Schultz tries to slice it there are two sides to every story – except of course in his narrow, resentful world. I don’t see a Pulitzer in your future Mr. Shultz – a Putz prize possibly, but not a Pulitzer.

    We deserve better reporting, even from someone at the bottom of their profession.

  3. Al, I do not always agree with Randy Schultz. But I have to say he always reports the facts accurately then draws his opinion. He is as far from a bully as the east is from the west. Robert A. Eisen

  4. I had a confrontation with him when he was with the Palm Beach Post when he distorted one of my letters to the editor and cut it short that changed the whole theme. It appears he’s now a lackey for the Sun Sentinel.

  5. I am at a loss to explain Randy’s positions–he sometimes seems to be an equal opportunity “disinformation” opportunist. You do not get that impression from speaking to him. But his stories range from accurate and insightful–to absurd. Read the stories on Al’s reading list above especially the story that involves me from June 15, 2017. There has to be a backstory and motive behind some of the positions he takes. It’s a pseudo news/editorial commentary. One of the more interesting things is ignoring interesting good stories. He would have nothing to do with the Airport Authority contractor defaulting in June on the Customs Facility which was supposed to be open in July–it still has not opened. he must have some sway over Sentinel because they did not cover the still developing story. Mysterious to say the least.

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