Monday, June 04, 2012

Why Do Some Reporters and Editors Deliberately Misreport the News?

I was very disappointed to read the slanted news article in Sunday’s paper resulting from Palm Beach Post reporter, Bill DiPaolo’s, interview of me last Friday. Mr. DiPaolo called me because he had heard about my efforts to erect the tallest American flag in the World to honor the fallen heroes of 911, the firefighters and policeman who sacrificed their lives to save others.  Below is the letter that I wrote last week to the Lake Park town commissioners:

Dear Commissioners,

I am writing you in hopes of getting your support on what I feel is the most important and meaningful endeavor I have ever undertaken. As America winds down a decade of war, I cannot help but feel there is something we should do as a community to honor the sacrifices made by our soldiers and by the first responders of 9/11. I am proposing to erect a monument in our town that will serve this purpose. I intend to install the tallest flag pole in the United States of America and fly what will be the tallest American flag in the entire world on top of it, here, in Lake Park, Florida. I will assume 100% of the cost of its construction, installation, and continued maintenance. The pole will be constructed by a licensed and bonded company that specializes in flag poles of this scale and it will be installed by a local contractor. Once complete, the height will reach three hundred and forty-one feet and will fly an American flag that is sixty feet by thirty feet.

This flag will benefit our town in numerous ways, among which is the draw it will have on visitors to south Florida: it will have very positive impact on local tourism. It will serve as a source of pride in our community, particularly among each of us who were so profoundly affected by the attacks of 9/11 and who call Lake Park their home.

Once installed, I will arrange a dedication ceremony and the monument will be dedicated to the living and fallen first responders of 9/11. This will be tastefully done, as will the continued display of the flag – without the taint of commercialism or hype.

I am asking for your support because I believe this requires people with a vision of the possible to not think that this is “crazy.” I’m used to being called crazy, but I know that credit for my successes in life and business goes to my craziest ideas. I am asking you to believe in this crazy idea. I am asking for a leap of faith.


Earl Stewart

You can read the PB Post article by clicking on this link, I will also post the article in its entirety at the bottom of this blog post. The headline has changed because I strongly protested it to the PB Post, but it’s already run in last Sunday’s paper and the text of the article remains slanted and inaccurate.

I was disappointed because what DiPaulo reported was not what I told him. After reading my letter above to the Lake Park town commission, you can see there’s no resemblance between that and DiPaolo’s article. My main motivation for erecting this flag is to honor the fallen heroes of 911 and to bring attention to this flag which will be the tallest American flag on the Earth. By bringing attention to the world’s tallest American flag, awareness will also be brought to the USA, Florida, Palm Beach County, the town of Lake Park but most importantly the 422 first responders who died. Yes, of course, it will also bring recognition to me because the flag was my idea, it’s on my property and I paid for it. But to write and headline the article that a “Car dealer seeks towering legacy in flagpole” is maliciously false and libelous. Florida, Palm Beach County, and Lake Park all will benefit by those who travel to our community to see and take pictures of the World’s tallest American flag which is dedicated to honor our fallen 911 heroes.  

I did say to DiPaolo that “I would be less than honest if I did not admit that having the world’s tallest American flag flying above my property would bring awareness to me and my business too’. I did not think that he would take that honest admission and make it the focal point of the “news” story.

Isn’t it interesting that nowhere in the article does DiPaolo mention the American flag, only the flagpole? In fact, this is not the tallest flagpole in the world, there are taller flagpoles flying the flags of other countries. I specifically told him that and suggested that he Google tallest flags and flagpoles. He said that he would. He also makes only a slight, passing mention of the fact that I’m dedicating the American flag to the fallen heroes of 911. DiPaulo also brought up the long forgotten feud that I once had with one of the Lake Park town councils many years ago. This had to do with the ire of a very few Lake Park residents and councilman who resented my using the name of North Palm Beach in my marketing. I believe DiPaulo supported that view at that time and decided to resurrect the argument for this article…presumably in an attempt to defeat my request for permission to erect this American flag.  

I believe that DiPaolo’s comparing this flag to Donald Trump’s flagpole was a deliberate attempt to make what I’m attempting to do appear to be an ego enhancing marketing stunt which “the Donald” is famous for.

I’ve been interviewed by the press and other media hundreds of times over the years including national and local and most often by the Palm Beach Post. Ninety-nine percent of the time I’m quoted accurately and the story is written honestly. Interestingly, recently there was another false article written about one of my employees by a Palm Beach Post reporter when the reporter falsely attributed my service manager’s favorite quotation to “Malcolm X”, the infamous racist. The editor of both stories was Nick Moschella…sheer coincidence?   I demanded an apology from Moschella then and I never received one. I won’t waste my time asking for one again. You can read the article I wrote about this, “Never Having to Say You’re Sorry if you’re the PB Post”. 

Here is the Palm Beach Post article in its entirety:

Car Dealer Seeks Towering Legacy with 341 Foot Flag Pole

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

 — Earl Stewart wants to put up a 341-foot flagpole - almost five times as tall as Donald Trump's 70-footer at Mar-a-Lago - at his Toyota dealership on U.S. 1.
"Yes, it's self-serving. I'm 71 years old. I want to build something that will be around for a long time," Stewart said.
The steel pole would be about 5 feet in diameter at the base and would cost about $800,000. The flag, 50 feet by 30 feet, would be about twice as large as Trump's. It would be dedicated to 9/ 11 victims, Stewart said.
The pole must be built to withstand hurricane-force winds. Approval from the Federal Aviation Administration is required. The proposal is scheduled to go before the town commission for approval at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday .
Stewart could face resentment from town officials and residents about his dealership advertisements. In television commercials and print ads, Stewart states his red-and-white dealership is in North Palm Beach. In fact, the dealership is in Lake Park.
"That's upsetting to me. He should be proud to be in Lake Park," said Lake Park Commissioner Steve Hockman.
The ads anger many residents, said Chuck Balius, who served 12 years on the commission before retiring in 2008.
"People would stand up and boo (Stewart) when he stood up to speak at commission meetings. A lot of people complain about it," Balius said.
Stewart said he uses the North Palm Beach address so potential customers will know where his dealership is.
"When people hear Palm Beach, they know where it is. Many do not know where Lake Park is. It's good marketing sense," Stewart said.
He said he does about one-third of his sales on the Internet. The dealership sells about 400 used and new vehicles a month and employs 146 full-time workers, he said.
The flagpole would be about the same height as the 32-story Trump Plaza in downtown West Palm Beach, just north of the middle bridge on Flagler Drive. It would be almost twice as high as the 180-foot Seacoast Utility Authority water tower at Hood Road and Alternate A1A.
Negative feelings about the ads should not play a role in deciding the flagpole issue, Hockman and Balius agreed.
Issues that should be considered include the reaction of nearby residents. Commissioners also must determine whether raising and lowering the giant flag, especially on windy days, could affect traffic on U.S. 1. And the base's location must ensure that if the pole falls, it won't land on U.S. 1, nearby buildings or utility lines, Hockman said.
"I think it would put Lake Park on the map. But we have to look at all the pros and cons," Hockman said.


  1. Funny how you want to call out the PBPOST about thier selective reporting when in fact, Mr. Stewart, you are guilty of selective, dishonest advertising. For many years your business had the name "lake Park" in it, ok so you took out Lake Park, no harm there, but then to start running print, Radio and TV ads stating your business was in "NORTH PALM BEACH" when in fact, it is, and always has been (at the current location any how) THE TOWN OF LAKE PARK. I feel you have no right to ask the Town of Lake Park for any special Privileges, regardless of the reason. You have blatantly DENIED The TOWN of Lake Park for many years. even though your more recent ads you have removed the words NORTH PALM BEACH, you had no right to deny the correct place your business has been for so many years. My entire family (and several friends) had been a loyal customer of over 35 years, with numerous new car purchases and maintenance or repairs, but no more. We all have taken our business else where as we choose to deal with people if integrity. When I hear your voice on the radio, I change it. Most stories I don't even read about your business. But you have gone too far. Respectfully, C. H. Castle, A PROUD Long time Lake Park Resident!

    1. I've been a long time reader of Earl Stewart's blog, because he provides very some interesting (and seemingly honest) commentary on car dealers and car dealerships. He definitely seems like the sort of man who I'd want to buy a car from.

      The fact that he may have misrepresented where his dealership is located, is neither something important to me, nor something that would be important if it happened in my own town. I don't understand. I also don't understand things like fighting with somebody from another state about how your sports team is better than their sports team, or loudly declaring that your country is better than somebody else's country.

      Also, if Lake Park is a nice place, which I assume it is, it should get by just fine on its own merits, and not the merits of which car dealerships use its name in their advertisements.

      It seems that perhaps he made a mistake, and probably should have advertised as being in "Lake Park, on the border of North Palm Beach", or something like that. From all the things I've read of his, I've always thought of him as a very nice guy, though. A lack of integrity is something I would not, and do not, view him as having. Perhaps he should publically apologize to Lake Park, and make an honest effort to embrace it? Who knows.

      My bigger issue to me is this whole "enormous flag" thing. Even without the negative spin from the newspaper, it screams "publicity stunt" to me. It bears repeating that I am a big fan of the man, just from reading his blog. As I read this article though, I was thinking "please say that he wants to build it OFF of his property", but I was disappointed to see that he wants to build it in his dealership.

      Spending $800,000 of your own money to honor your country and its fine citizens is nothing to scoff at. In wanting to build it on his own dealership though, he knew that he was very interested in how good it would make him look. I can't even think of a way you could build it on your own dealership without it seeming like a gimmick. My thought is that he should have offered to build it at an important town or county government or historic site, and then reaped the positive karma from that selfless act. I don't think he's a bad guy or that he's being dishonest about his intentions with the flag. It's just very difficult to look at someone installing the world's largest American flag at his car dealership, and think "that man is truly patriotic" over "that man definitely wants us all to know that he is patriotic".

  2. I beg to differ, he has a bigger ego than the flag he was hoping to build. He is all about the "spin" to make his $. I have a hard time understanding why he would once embrace the town of lake park ( after all this same dealership was once named "Stewart Lake Park Toyota" and then when he began expanding his business and branding himself (a smart move in my opinion) he then also starting advertising that he was located in another municipality. I find it both disrespectful to the town of lake park and dishonest. (you can call an cat a dog all day long and it's still an cat) The fact that Mr. Stewart is a very, vocal presence in our county, (TV, Radio, internet) and often rants with his own opinions about others, including but not limited to media, and he is everywhere you look (like it or not) the memorial flag pole is just one more of his marketing techniques to make him more money. I have no issue with him making money, I take issue with him throwing stones at others for doing the exact same thing he is guilty of, putting a spin if you will on things for their own benefit, yet asking others to give him special privileges to make more money. I find him to be a very narcissistic man. our small town deserves one of the biggest businesses (is started out a small dealership) to show pride in the place he built, he could have sold it years ago and moved. Other dealer ships in the area have done just that, instead he opted to stay and build, which we are happy he did, but don't bite that hands that feed you, disown us for what some may perceive to be a tad more posh community that our lil' ole town. He can honor our country, show his patriotism and the 911 victims and rescuers in any way he sees fit and disown the very town he built his livelihood in? some how that feels a bit hypercritical to me, but then again, we are talking about Earl Stewart, one of the biggest hypocrites around. Mr. Stewart has a self serving motive for everything, including his new 5o Foot flag pole.

  3. They don't advertise North Palm Beach anymore. Your point is outdated by about three years and irrelevant.

  4. Palm Beach Auto Direct, Palm Beach Power Squadron, Palm Beach Academy Health and Beauty, Power Sports of Palm Beach, Palm Beach Business Systems, Bikram Yoga Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Beach Cleaning, Locksmith in Palm Beach Gardens, Palm Beach Gutter Service, Palm Beach Floor and Floor and Window Covering, Freedom House of Palm Beach, Palm Beach Restoration Services, Sherwin Williams North Palm Beach, North Palm Beach Heights Water, Palm Beach Ballet Center, Palm Beach Foot and Ankle, West Palm Beach Emergency Service, Palm Beach Auto Trim, and, of course, Miami Subs.

    What do all of these business have in common? They are all located in Lake Park, Florida. Are all these business owners deceitful hypocrites who disown their community and bite the hands that feed them? Or maybe they are painfully aware of the fact that no one knows where the hell Lake Park is. It's not up to these business owners to create awareness for Lake Park, it's their job to create awareness for their own investment. It's the job of the Town of Lake Park to create a draw for business and part of this is marketing the town.

    Have a conversation with any business owner in that town and not one will tell you that Lake Park is business-friendly.

  5. Will NEVER live in Lake ParkJune 07, 2012 8:05 AM

    Let me give you an example of how unfriendly Lake Park is to business. I was at the town meeting last night and I witnessed something shocking. The owners of the Grumpy Grouper in Lantana went before the commission to discuss a grant offered to them by the Lake Park CRA for $40,000 to open a restaurant on Park Avenue. These successful and very nice people were grilled mercilessly by the commissioners before having the offer for the grant revoked - nickeled and dimed down to $10,000 now and $10,000 if they could meet a deadline imposed by the town to open. I was shocked - it was embarrassing and I don't even live in this town.


Earl Stewart On Cars welcomes comments from everyone - supporters and critics alike. We'd like to keep the language and content "PG Rated" so please refrain from vulgarity and inappropriate language. We will delete any comment that violates these guidelines. Oh yeah - one more thing: no commercials! Other than that, comment-away!