Articles by JCS
OPEN LETTER TO THE PROFESSION
As the publisher of TCJ, the recent March 2004 edition of your Publisher’s Perspective column titled, “Watch out, we’re dangerous,” clearly aimed to discredit, misrepresent, mischaracterize, and libel me for my online commentary that called you the “most dangerous man in chiropracTIC,” a moniker that you apparently admire from your response.
For 2 1/2 pages of editorial fraud, your column totally ignored the real issues, charges, and allegations behind this moniker, instead you chose to mislead your readers with another ridiculous issue altogether to incite them to respond to your solicitation for support that reportedly comprised over 1,000 signatures on two pages. I now demand equal space to defend myself from your lies and distortion of the truth. Indeed, your journalistic fraud and yellow journalism flies in the face of the Code of Ethics used by reputable publishers, an issue that obviously is of little concerned to you inasmuch as you have obfuscated the truth on many issues and have freely attacked other political or financial rivals in past editions.
As well as equal space in a timely matter in your TCJ, I also have previously challenged you to a panel debate in front of the ACA HOD meeting or the next COCSA meeting, to which you’ve not responded as quickly as your spurious column that defamed me. The time has come to put you on the hot seat to hold your feet to the fire. Are you afraid to discuss these allegations in front of a jury of our peers or what?
When you were not allowed on Logan’s campus recently, you wrote in your own defense, “If the truth wasn't so powerful they would have nothing to fear.” Now is the time for you to allow my truth to be heard in your tabloid or do you have something to fear? And if you’re the Martyr of ChiropracTIC as you suggest in your article, please take up my offer to enlighten me and the 50 state reps in a panel discussion at the next COCSA meeting.
Mr. Rick Flaherty has offered to put up $5,000 to sponsor such a debate after he viewed your destruction of the Leadership Forum. I’m sure many may be delighted to hear you speak, and some may have pointed questions to ask of you. Feel free to bring your cohorts in this WCA racketeering squad of yours—Chris Kent, Pat Gentempo, Matt McCoy, and whichever sycophants you care to invite.
Are you man enuf, TR? Ready to play hardball? It’s time for you to stop hiding in Arizona and come forth to defend your many unethical and obstructionist machinations. It’s time for you and your WCA “gnat in the ointment” cronies to respond to the demands of the mainstream DCs who are the real backbone of this profession. The fact that you may refuse to debate these issues will be just another example of why you’re dangerous—you are unaccountable to anyone for your misdeeds as you hide from your critics. Put aside your poisoned pen and come forth to defend yourself in the court of chiropractic opinion at the COCSA.
I expect answers to both requests as soon as possible.
Enuf sed, ya folla!
JC Smith, MA, DC
The following article is my reply to your article.
Crime & Punishment
JC Smith, MA, DC
Most Americans believe in fair play on a level playing field and ethical leadership in government, sports, business, church, and in the media. Sports have the rules of the games, business has regulations, government has laws, the church has its commandments, and journalism has a code of ethics. Whenever these lines of decency are violated, fair-minded people who play by the rules understand the punishment should fit the crime whether it’s a five-yard penalty, jail time, a ruined reputation, or a trip to Hell. Whether winners or sinners, they all have a price to pay for their actions.
In the world of professional journalism, those who go astray may lose their jobs and are smeared for life. The recent Jayson Blair flap at the NY Times is a good example of unethical journalism that led to a turnover at the top of its editorial staff, a disgraced writer, an embarrassed publisher and, most of all, a tarnished image as a reputable newspaper. Famed columnist, Mike Barnacle, also lost his job at the Boston Globe for cheating, and every newspaperman is held to the same standards of ethical reporting or else suffers similar consequences of shame.
In the world of chiropractic journalism, however, we’ve seen repeated examples of publications that have gone beyond the pale but, regrettably, these transgressions continue without any punishment. Apparently there is no code of ethics among some chiro publishers, and we field docs cannot vote by canceling our subscriptions since most are free tabloids. Like ‘em or not, the constant flow of National Enquirer chiropracTIC tabloids fill our mailboxes like unwanted junk mail.
More than once TR has misrepresented the ACA, WFC, CCE, FCER, and FCLB as the voice for the fringe of this profession. In fact, Rongberg has a litany of unethical acts that I’ve shown in my previous commentaries, but his propaganda and self-serving demagoguery continues unabated since he ignores any call for ethical journalism. Indeed, the power of the press is enormous, especially when it flows from a poisoned pen that ignores common decency in journalism.
Another egregious example of unethical journalism recently occurred in Rongberg’s TCJ (March 2004) when he responded to an email commentary of mine by writing a misleading article in his Publisher’s Perspective column titled, “Watch out, we’re dangerous,” in which he mocked and mischaracterized my allegation that TR is the “most dangerous man in chiropracTIC.” He then followed his half-page article of self-infatuation with two pages of nearly 1,000 supposed supporters who signed on to his shameless email appeal.
Here is an excerpt of his appeal with my [bracketed responses]:
“If I do my job right [as a propagandist], I am dangerous to those who want chiropractic to become a form of medical therapy. [No, that wasn’t the issue at all. You’re dangerous because of your conflict of interest with your companies, your self-serving yellow journalism and phony Journal, your autocratic prez-for-life WCA position, your unaccountability to any meaningful board, your legislative fraud misrepresenting yourself to legislators with your phony little buyers’ club, and your sham NGO status with the UN. Is that clear now?] H.L. Mencken said, "The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself... Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable."
“That pretty much applies to chiropractic [the ChiropracTIC Coalition, to be exact!] as well, especially when one organization tries to set itself up as the profession's "government." [Is TR suggesting the ACA and WFC are ‘dishonest, insane and intolerable’? His rebelliousness is too obvious. Defying the important leadership role of the ACA in America and the WFC worldwide just shows his naiveté and willingness to mislead his readership. TR is not a “revolutionary” as he portrays, but he is a self-serving anarchist/vendor/yellow journalist who is accountable to no one!]
“But before all this flattery (unintentional as it was) goes to my head [he still doesn’t get it], I need to remember that none of the truly "dangerous" individuals stood alone. What made them effective and powerful enough to be dangerous were all the people who stood shoulder to shoulder with them. Each was a symbol of the principles they all stood for.” [If you’re so popular, TR, why does your little buyers’ club, the WCA, have only 240 members despite your constant recruitment pitches to 60,000 TCJ readers? I daresay after nearly 18 years of constant propaganda, you’d have more non-voting members than a mere 240 if your message is true.]
Surprisingly, these supporters were solicited without any understanding of the real issues and my allegations against TR. Most, undoubtedly, had not read my commentary when they pledged their support for Rongberg. Instead, this response came from a misleading and shameless solicitation by TR himself and should be viewed as simply a publicity stunt—demonize your opponent, obfuscate the issues, and arouse emotions for support.
According to Webster’s dictionary, a demagogue is a “political leader who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions and prejudices of people.” This best describes the leadership of Rondberg who has been accused of demagoguery on many issues within the chiropractic profession when he attacked rivals on numerous occasions and misrepresent issues such as the recent VA committee recommendations. Such unethical journalism is not unexpected from Rongberg after he published a phony letter-to-the-editor by what proved to be a fictional DC, a Robert Marsh in LA. Of course, this letter attacked Lou Sportelli, a long time financial and political rival of Rongberg, and an educated guess easily pointed to Rongberg himself as its author although he never took any responsibility. He certainly was culpable as the publisher for printing a letter that was bogus and clearly another foolish attempt to assassinate the character of one of the premier chiropractic champions.
Now in his recent article defaming me, he incredulously likened himself to social reformers in history instead of mentioning my allegations whatsoever! He totally ignores the issues and editorial etiquette by not allowing me the customary reply alongside his article in the same publication that is standard in real journals. In fact, no one can ever accuse Rongberg of being “fair and balanced” in his tabloid, as we would expect in any reputable journal like the JAMA, BMJ, NEJM, or JMPT. In fact, once my response is sent to Rongberg requesting publication in my defense, if he fails to do so, it will serve as another example of his journalistic fraud.
Frankly, Rongberg ought to change the name of his free tabloid since it is devoid of credible scientific or professional articles and only serves to confuse chiropractors in the field. Instead, he might rename his tabloid The ChiropracTIC Enquirer since it’s more like a supermarket tabloid than a professional journal.
The code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists' (an organization whose membership is comprised of publishers, editors, and journalists) establishes the fundamental responsibilities of every journalist. This list of objectives begins with a statement that reads, "The duty of journalists is to serve the truth." Ironically, TR believes his chiropracTIC quest is the “truth” that we mixers are all afraid of, but in reality, his spin more closely resembles journalistic fraud. Let me prove my point by defining these terms and illustrating with Rongberg’s article how far from the truth he actually is.
Other important elements of this code of ethics to which all journalists should adhere include:
“So-called news communications from private sources should not be published or broadcast without substantiation of their claims to news values. The news media should not communicate unofficial charges affecting reputation or moral character without giving the accused a chance to reply. Journalists who use their professional status as representatives of the public for selfish or other motives violate a high trust.”
Not only did Rongberg violate this code of ethics, his usual demagoguery also revealed itself with his emotional, baseless appeal to supporters, few of whom even understood the issues involved. Let’s be frank: Rongberg is not a credible publisher, educator, politician or elected official. He is a vendor selling insurance, a tabloid publisher with a yellow journalism attitude, and a political misfit who rebels against mainstream democratic associations to mold this profession to his misconstrued ideology and personal profit.
Chris Quigley of the ICA leadership accurately described Rondberg and his phony WCA:
“I do see you as divisive and self-serving. I see you as a self-promoter disguising his for-profit businesses as having altruistic purposes.” www.worldchiropracticalliance.org/tcj/2000/sep/sep2000rondberg.htm
Sadly, his supporters who obviously are willing to drink the Coalition’s purple Kool-Aid simply rely upon his editorial opinion as fact, clearly another sign of unethical yellow journalism to say the least, and outright journalistic fraud to be blunt. The fact that TR denied me the opportunity to respond to his defamation of my commentary before it was published smacks of libel since his goal was to ridicule and not to have an open, intelligent debate on the merits of my allegations against his many nefarious schemes.
Journalistic ethics obviously have no bearing in Rongberg’s publication—his sole goal is to advance his own agenda as a vendor and political hack by using whatever means he can to stir the pot of controversy with publicity stunts. This short review of Bob Kohn’s book, “Journalistic Fraud: How the New York Times Distorts the News and Why It Can No Longer Be Trusted,” summarizes those same tactic often used by our chiropracTIC journalists:
"Today, instead of straight news, readers are given mere editorial under the pretense of objective journalism. Kohn shows point by point the methods by which the Times’ mission has been subverted by the present management—routinely slanting the presentation of the facts in leads, headlines, and placement; utilizing polls, labels, and loaded language to convey particular views, not genuine news; and staffing the newsroom with hacks who manipulate information to further a leftist agenda."
This description accurately describes every edition of TCJ. There is a broad line between ethical reporting of events and yellow journalism that persuades in order to profit, as we now see with some chiropracTIC tabloids like the TCJ and AJCC, both owned by proprietors of chiropractic services. Indeed, the editorial comments of Rondberg and Harrison often sound as ridiculous and misguided as those of Baghdad Bob, the infamous Iraqi Minister of Misinformation, but to the uninformed field docs, they often have no way of knowing what’s reality and what’s the fantasy of a publisher with a disingenuous attitude, a profit motive, and a political ax to grind.
“In 1898, newspapers provided the major source of news in America. At this time, it was common practice for a newspaper to report the editor's interpretation of the news rather than objective journalism. If the information reported was inaccurate or biased, the American public had little means for verification. With this sort of influence, the newspapers wielded much political power. In order to increase circulation, the publishers of these papers often exploited their position by sponsoring a flamboyant and irresponsible approach to news reporting that became known as ‘yellow journalism.’”
Certainly Rongberg has stooped to this low level of news reporting because he makes no attempt to be a reputable journal within this profession. Indeed, the “news” is just the bait to sell products, and his demagoguery is the tactic he uses with his “flamboyant and irresponsible approach to news reporting.” The more he can stir the pot of controversy to push his agenda, the better Rongberg likes it.
The fact that 1,000 supporters aligned with him after he maligned my allegations also calls into question their objectivity. Certainly they must admit there are always two sides to any story, but their willingness to jump on Rongberg’s Crusader for ChiropracTIC bandwagon without understanding my allegations whatsoever speaks volumes about these ideologues. At least we now know who the “dangerous” chirovangelists actually are! And they may wonder why many think of them as chiropracTIC’s version of the Moonies or Gov. Dean’s band of Deaniacs?
Bill O’Reilly mentioned similar sentiments in his new book, “Who’s looking out for you?”
“Finally, the war in Iraq proves once again that ideologues can never look out for you. They are too blinded by the light on the right or the left and they will never see things for what they really are. If you become an ideological prisoner, the truth will always elude you because you will never seek it. Instead, you’ll evaluate each issue and problem with an agenda: trying to prove your ideology is correct.”
Regrettably, the chiropracTIC sect is beset with demagogues and ideologues stirring the pot as obtuse opportunists to keep themselves in the limelight in order to sell their products, whether it’s Rongberg’s spiel on the evils of “medical therapy” or CJ Mertz selling his WLP seminar while prez of the ICA.
Merchandizing seems to be the rule of thumb for most of these Chiro Coalition folks—whether it’s selling chiropracTIC degrees at diploma mills, dubious “educational” videos, Tony Robbins-styled TV infomercials, shaky malpractice insurance, “so what?” Subluxation Stations, or chirovangelism practice management seminars. Their conflicts of interest abound, but sadly, this impropriety falls on deaf ears among the BJ wannabees who watched him and $id make millions off the backs of unsuspecting students and those mesmerized practitioners who blindly follow them chanting the Money Hum.
Instead of discussing important issues like market share, raising education standards, funding research, fighting for more access and parity like the ACA, CCE, FCER and WFC have done so successfully, these chiropracTIC ideologues remain fixated on superfluous issues like chirovangelism, demagoguery, medical-bashing and their shameless self-promotions as evident by the numerous conflicts of interests among the leadership in both the ICA and WCA. What Chris Quigley said about TR can also be said about many within the ICA and WCA leaderships.
The recent VA committee controversy was a good example of the duplicity mouthed by TR and his lackeys. The WCA rep promoted a model of chiropractic that would limit the mainstream, but profit those WCA entrepreneurs who sell the Subluxation Station. The WCA rep, Leona Fischer, a sock puppet of TR, repeatedly requested that the committee adhere to the “detect with a Sub. Station and only correct VSC” scope for DCs, and again parroted TR’s stupid position that any other services rendered by DCs would be duplication of services, unnecessary, and costly. The VA committee ignored this request to handcuff practitioners and recommended a DC can do whatever his/her state license allowed.
This narrow scope for DCs in the VA endorsed by TR stands in total contradiction to his recent declaration on an online student chatroom:
“Thanks, Alan. We do our best to fight for all doctors of chiropractic! [That’s a lie and a laugh. I think 99% of sober DCs might disagree who TR really fights for and against!]
“By "subluxation-based" we mean chiropractic that is focused primarily on correcting subluxations. [That includes 98% of all DCs.] Subluxation-based doctors may provide a variety of services, including nutritional counseling, acupuncture, extremity adjusting, etc. [Wrong! Since when have sub-based chiropracTORs become mixers? TR is describing “patient-based” DCs who look at the whole person, not just the spine, and teach comprehensive healthcare, not just chirovangelism.] They can also use a wide variety of modalities and instrumentation. In fact, it's an extremely broad category! [His bait has been thrown in the water to lure in the suckers! Now TR is sucking up to mixers to win their confidence to sell them CBS insurance, no doubt.]
“But did you know that many doctors seldom if ever correct subluxations and never mention them to patients? [God forbid. Now here comes the demagoguery. Just where’s the proof of this allegation anyway?] They present themselves to patients as being capable of making differential diagnoses of various diseases [Just as CCE colleges teach and the law demands], and then treating those diseases. [Oh the horror when DCs actually treat diseases or help patients with intractable back pain!]
“It's hard enough for a medical doctor to correctly diagnose heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. [and it’s nearly impossible for a “straight” chiropracTOR to diagnose anything since most don’t even look!] It frankly isn't within the scope of a chiropractor's practice to do so [Untrue! Here comes his CBS pitch again.] and expecting D.C.s to make such diagnoses leaves them vulnerable to malpractice lawsuits [Untrue! They’re vulnerable when they miss a diagnosis, not for making one!] and puts their patients at risk. [What puts patients at greatest risk are stupid chiropracTORs who refuse to diagnose anything ‘cause it ain’t chiropracTIC foolosophy! I jus looks for da subluxATIONS, ya folla?’ This simplistic paradigm of “principled, sub-based chiropracTIC” as a cure-all is perhaps why Dr. Joanie Gallagher of Hazelton, PA, is now serving 18 months in federal prison for the death of an epileptic patient. I daresay she probably is also a WCA member!]
“There are many health care professional out there - medical doctors, physical therapists, osteopaths, naturopaths, etc. What sets chiropractors apart? [Don’t go there, TR! ChiropracTORs are “unique” because they can’t diagnose, won’t ever refer to MDs, they vilify anything medical, are non-therapeutic spinal technicians who don’t care about pain management or spinal rehab, yet they want full access and parity!]
“What can we offer that NONE of the others can? [I know—it’s chirovangelism!] It's not "manual therapy" for musculoskeletal conditions like back pain - M.D.s, P.T.s, D.O.s and others can offer that. [Untrue: DCs do 94% of that, not our medical colleagues, and we do it BEST. The public polls clearly show we are the best “back doctors” for nearly 70% of these conditions. Is that a problem, TR? Why not be the best non-drug, non-surgical spinal specialist rather than a second-rate chirotherapist who is ignorant of diagnostics or comprehensive spinal care like you?] It's not full body diagnosis or disease treatment - that's a duplication of medical services. [Is there a law against duplicating services or is TR scared for qualified DCs to compete on a level playing field in an open marketplace? Why does he persist in denying us access to rendering these services when most qualified DCs can do them just as well and usually cheaper!]
“It's the detection and correction of vertebral subluxations. [The Holy Grail of ChiropracTIC.]
Now we’ve gone full circle from his original definition of sub-based chiropractic including everything from acupuncture to modalities until, at the end of his sales pitch, he’s back to just “detecting and correcting VSC.” Geez, TR, you can’t have it both ways, but this clearly shows how it talks out of both sides of his mouth to win the reader’s confidence as he clearly obfuscates the issues. On one hand he argues DCs should be PCPs in the VA, then admits diagnosis isn’t within DCs’ scope. Obviously he has no idea what a PCP does since he’s not a practitioner himself. His duplicity is obvious to those on the VA committee who knew of his underhanded efforts to restrict our scope to “poppin’ and prayin’ to Innate only” as we learned during the VA hearings.
This online discussion exemplified how TR can twist the truth to suit his needs. He lies, distorts, and speaks with a forked tongue to mold students and impressionable, naïve field docs to his archaic scheme of chiropracTIC. Fortunately, the VA committee rejected his limited concept of chiropractic care, yet he persists on infusing his “Deaniac” version upon us all at every opportunity with his yellow journalism. Indeed, like a serial criminal, nothing stops the most dangerous (or should we say “annoying” as Dr. Wyatt Earp in Texas suggests?) man in chiropracTIC as he merchandizes his services continually to anyone willing to listen to his political drivel.
If it’s not enough to endure his yellow journalism, his “fork tongue” duplicity, political machinations, financial conflicts of interest, and his overall demagoguery, Rongberg has created a litany of other problems within this profession, to name just a few of the many:
Like the Energizer bunny, TR keeps on ticking despite his many setbacks because he’s unaccountable to anyone!
Obviously a case can easily be made of TR’s many conflicts, obstructionism, journalistic fraud and libel. His 18 years as a yellow journalist made it easy to find the online evidence supporting these allegations, and his recent defamation of my commentary clearly illustrated his continued shameless behavior. Even his own followers must admit he has swayed repeatedly from ethical journalism since the proof is abundant. The man is a loose cannon willing to shoot off his mouth and willing to shoot this profession in its foot if he can profit.
So, what’s the punishment for his crimes? An apology is both unwanted and unlikely from Rongberg since his megalomania and religious jihad against mixers would never allow him to admit any errors, and an apology is too little without a mea culpa and tabula rasa, which neither will be forthcoming from this demagogue. Just like the fall of Big $id Williams and his gang of academic imposters, TR will only leave feet first, screaming his pathetic appeal for vengeance!
He has proven his contempt for professional ethics when he proudly wrote,
“H.L. Mencken said, ‘The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself... Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable.’ That pretty much applies to chiropractic as well, especially when one organization tries to set itself up as the profession's ‘government.’”
Of course, this chiropracTIC jihad uses the same tactics of al Jazeera to misinform in the press to disrupt the mainstream be it obstructionism or unethical journalism. He makes his own rules, as he implied, because he’s the only one “able to think things out for himself” and he alone has concluded the entire body of professional worldwide mainstream chiropractic is “dishonest, insane and intolerable.”
Whereas in the real world of professional journalism, reporters like Jayson Blair are removed, but in the chiropracTIC world of free buyers’ guide tabloids like the TCJ, unethical journalists like Rongberg who spin the news to profit and practice demagoguery to promote themselves financially are unconcerned of ethical condemnation, which is why I labeled TR the most dangerous man in chiropracTIC. As I repeatedly claim, what makes Rongberg dangerous is the fact that he is unaccountable to anyone, including an oversight board’s direction, the vote of members, rules on ethics, or the democratic wishes of this profession. The only way to hold him responsible is to attack his pride and pocketbook.
I admire those chiro college presidents who understand his danger as a propagandist/vendor and disallow his TCJ or SWCA on their campuses. While TR may fool impressionable chirovangelists, he hasn’t fooled anyone in the major chiro associations, reputable chiro colleges, or the international leaders in this profession.
As well, legislators on Capitol Hill know full well who speaks for this profession, and it certainly isn’t the “loonies” who bellow Rongberg’s drivel. While they may clamor at their Capitol Summit preachin’ their chirovangelism, the Congressman know the ruse of the WCA and the insipid Chiro Coalition, which may explain why every WCA legislative effort has failed.
I believe every responsible state, national, and international association should pass a resolution calling for a sanction on the WCA, not unlike the UN passing Resolution 1441 to sanction Saddam’s Iraq as a rogue state when it refused to follow international law and UN agreements. TR has proven of his contempt for the mainstream democratic process—his recent jihad statement, his refusal to attend the WFC Identity & Image conference are the most recent examples. Failure to pass resolutions condemning him would be viewed as a tacit endorsement of this unethical journalist and political hack.
This sanction might include:
Indeed, the litany of evidence against him is mounting daily. The only recourse is to expose profession-wide his unethical acts just as the UN did with Saddam. Indeed, hitting his pride and pocketbook would do wonders to contain this loose cannon who has shown repeatedly his lack of ethics in this profession.
As King George McAndrews has said repeatedly, “it’s time to isolate the rascals.” Now that Big $id has bit the dust, I can’t think of anyone better to isolate than the infamous Terry Rongberg.