BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | WestView News is making waves again — but it could be getting itself into hot water with liberal Democratic readers — which, as everyone knows, makes up most of the Village.
The newspaper — one of at least five papers currently covering the West Village — has been giving glowing coverage to the insurgent presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. And, in a front-page article in WestView’s September/October issue, its publisher, George Capsis, 96, came out with an early RFK Jr. endorsement.
The Page 1 article, written by Kelly Gallagher, ends with a quote by Capsis, saying, “The mainstream media keep ignoring [RFK Jr.], which only further exposes the censorship that is currently running rampant in the land of the free and the home of the brave. That’s not Democratic. There comes a point in life where you have to take a stand. For me, that time is now. It’s time to take a stand. I stand with Bobby Kennedy.”
As for Gallagher, she describes herself in her bio on X (formerly Twitter) as “an intergalactic communicator sent to this planet to shake up the status quo.”
For some Village readers, the article definitely did seem to come out of left field — if not out of “Star Trek”’s Gamma Quadrant.
One outraged reader at Westbeth Artists Housing scrawled his or her reaction in red magic marker in all capital letters on a copy of WestView, and indignantly left it in the complex’s mailroom, where stacks of local newspapers are distributed.
“IGNORANT, VILE RIGHT-WING PROPAGANDA!” the critic wrote. “DO NOT BE FOOLED!! THIS IS NOT THE VOICE OF THE WEST VILLAGE!”
WestView’s motto is “The Voice of the West Village.”
At the recent ribbon-cutting on Oct. 2 for the new park on Gansevoort Peninsula, one local Democratic politician — requesting anonymity — told The Village Sun he was puzzled by the newspaper’s RFK Jr. endorsement, among other things.
“Hey, what is going on with WestView?” he asked, with concern.
On Oct. 9, RFK Jr. announced that he is now running for president as an independent.
And he’s polling surprisingly high for a third-party candidate — at 14 percent, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, which found former President Trump polling at 40 percent and President Biden at 38 percent. Kennedy has carved a niche for himself as the anti-establishment, anti-corporate candidate.
Asked about the backlash, WestView’s Dusty Berke told The Village Sun regarding RFK Jr., “They just think he’s an anti-vaxxer. They’re not listening to what he’s actually saying.”
Berke was briefly listed as the paper’s editor for its November 2022 issue, after former managing editor Kim Plosia split to help start up Village View. Berke’s name no longer appears on the masthead.
Berke said her having the editor title had become a distraction. Yet, she clearly continues to exert major influence on the newspaper’s content and direction. Capsis, who founded WestView News in his 70s, remains atop the masthead as publisher and executive editor.
In its May print issue, WestView reprinted, word for word, RFK Jr.’s entire, lengthy April 25 speech announcing his candidacy, filling an entire 12-page special insert.
“George, as a rule, doesn’t support anybody, ever,” Berke explained back then. “George listened to the speech. He said, ‘I don’t think he can win but he did a great job cleaning up the Hudson.’ George said he wanted to run the whole thing.”
Berke, not surprisingly, is also backing Kennedy.
“He has unassailable facts,” she said. “I think Bobby Kennedy doesn’t put anything out with his name on it that he doesn’t have bulletproof facts to back it up.”
Meanwhile, Arthur Schwartz, the senior editor of the WestViewNews offshoot The Village View — motto: “The Voice of the Village and The Lower West Side” — declared the rival publication is now “irrelevant.”
“I think WestView has become irrelevant — as predicted,” he scoffed. “RFK Jr. is running a fringe, anti-vax, anti-science campaign which does a disservice to the wonderful environmental work he did on the Hudson River. Dusty played up RFK because he is an anti-vaxxer who looks liberal. I think he has moved from being a hero to being cuckoo.
“I think Village View and The Village Sun are the joint Voices of the Village,” he continued. “The View has longer opinion and in-depth pieces and the Sun gives us news updates frequently about stuff not read about elsewhere. What we have clearly tried to do is be intensely local, like The Village Sun.
“Next month — November — by the way, we hope to start a monthly column from [City Comptroller] Brad Lander and one from [radical attorney] Ron Kuby,” he added.
Because Village View is a 501c3 nonprofit, it is barred from endorsing political candidates — unlike WestView News and The Village Sun.
“Note: We had four pieces written by candidates in the upcoming election,” Schwartz added. “No favoritism — we are a 501c3.”
Schwartz has previously declared that the “war is over” between the now nearly one-year-old breakaway Village View and WestView News.
“We are not at war,” he recently reiterated.
However, Berke isn’t exactly feeling so kumbaya about the upstart challenger. Over the summer, she charged that the competitor was continuing to imitate design elements from WestView News — which is not so surprising since the same designer, Plosia, who used to create WestView is now doing Village View.
“When he’s saying, ‘The war is over,’ I just have to smile,” Berke said. “He rekindled it by stealing our [Gay] Pride template and putting it on Page 1. They stole our Pride template.”
One Westbeth resident, who spotted the angrily marked-up copy of WestView in the complex’s mailroom, told The Village Sun, “Between the support for RFK Jr. and weird cures for COVID, this paper is really off the wall. I think people keep picking it up out of habit and it’s got a nice look but… .”
The newspaper’s September/October issue also includes a lengthy discussion of columnist Gary Null’s June article claiming that ivermectin — a drug approved to treat parasitic worms and head lice — “could have saved millions of lives” during the COVID pandemic but was “suppressed.”
In another eyebrow-raiser, one WestView article a few months ago said kids with braces were at greater risk from harmful radiation when walking past 5G Wi-Fi towers.
In related news, Jim Drougas, the owner of the former Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books, on Carmine Street, has expressed a desire to buy Berke’s “Tiles for America” bus that was formerly parked at Seventh Avenue South and Greenwich Avenue at Mulry Square. Police towed the vehicle back in January — and arrested Berke in the process — saying they had gotten “multiple complaints about an unregistered bus” at the spot. The vehicle, in fact, had sat there for six years. Berke — who frantically rushed over and protested that the bus’s unsecured 9/11 tiles would be damaged if it was towed — was charged with obstruction of governmental administration and disorderly conduct for refusing police orders to exit the vehicle.
However, she says she does not plan to sell the bus — which was originally used as a mobile library in the Midwest — and plans to spiff it up with fancy hubcaps and bring it back possibly as a solar-powered emergency command center.
Berke told the Sun at the time that she furious at her nemesis Schwartz for calling out the long-entrenched bus on the letters page of the January issue of Village View, which at the time was called New Westview.
“I have never had anything to do with her bus,” Schwartz retorted at the time. “Never spoke to anyone official about it. … I was not involved.”