"Alleged" Bar Fight
Dateline - Downieville August 25, 2008
The following response is for those of you who read and are deeply offended as we are, with the Union Newspaper article written by Publisher Jeff Ackerman "Bar fight adds to Downieville lore". 
          The Downieville / St Charles issue was a non-event that was fabricated by a disgruntled Clamper and an over zealous newspaper reporter!  The following reply from the St Charles Saloon and the Mountain Messenger newspaper pretty well sum things up in a nutshell:
St. Charles Saloon
My Dear Mr. Ackerman,  (Publisher and reporter for the Union)
           We are deeply touched and appreciative of the free promotion you have offered Sierra County, and Downieville in particular.  As a measure of our appreciation, we feel obligated to return the favor, and try to assist you in your endeavors of journalistic excellence, true facts and better stories.
            Just an instance: you refer to the Downieville office of the Drug and Alcohol department. This is just a state-government sponsored scam: despite repeated efforts, the department refuses to supply Sierra County citizens with either drugs or alcohol.  And, historically, we’re prouder of our last hanging, of an 1885 murderer than the Juanita you speak of. In 1885, our citizens went to the trouble and expense of building a special scaffolding for the event, which still graces the Courthouse. We think that construction effort added ceremony and is more fitting to the occasion than just pushing murderers off bridges.
          Incidentally, the Craycroft building, home of the St. Charles ‘libation emporium and Hall of Comparative Ovations’ has not been kind to D.A.s. In 1853, D.A. Thaddeus Purdy was shot and killed there. Top law officers might have reason to be apprehensive in that venue.
          Unfortunately our current D.A., unlike several of his predecessors, is not at all fond of fisticuffs nor even good scuffles, and we are ashamed to say the story circulating about your front page is akin to the legendary premature reports of Mark Twain’s death.
          In truth, there hasn’t been a good knife or gunfight in the St. Charles for over three weeks. Our local dentist is thinking of re- locating, and the sawbones hasn’t sewn any patrons up for many days.  Not even one knuckle was skinned last weekend. Alas, gentrification is even infecting Downieville.
         Be that as it may: we stand proudly with you in not letting facts get in the way of a good story.
Jim Roos, Clamper and Keeper of the St. Charles Saloon, Downieville
The Mountain Messenger
GRASS VALLEY–In response to our inquiry, a spokeswoman for the Grass Valley Union, allegedly once a daily newspaper, declined to verify that institution had been purchased by the National Enquirer, as reported to us by an anonymous source. Given the denial, which we graciously take at face value, we can only conclude a grand new venture has been born from the wreckage of that once peculiar medium.
“The heaven-born mission of journalism is to disseminate truth, to eradicate error, to educate, refine, and elevate the tone of public morals and manners, and make all men more gentle, more virtuous, more charitable, and in all ways better and holier, and happier, yet this black-hearted scoundrel degrades his great office persistently to the dissemination of falsehood, calumny, vituperation, and vulgarity,” wrote Mark Twain of a newspaper, not too long after a stop in GrassValley.
Evidently failing in any heaven-born mission, the re-formed Grass Valley enterprise has stumbled upon a sure hit. Sensible of local advertisers and, as always, safely unwilling to offend its own county’s miscreants, it has taken to publishing absolutely unfounded stories of public officials in neighboring venues, garnered from anonymous sources.
The brilliance of the enterprise is obvious after a moment’s reflection: elected officials, as a matter of case law, have no recourse to being slandered or libeled. Anonymous sources, having their own axes to grind, almost never seek recompense for their creativity. One city editor re-write man completes the staff, and one copy of Roget’s synonyms for “alleged” and “reportedly” makes up the library. No local advertisers are alienated by accusations of misdeeds in other places. The corporate savings delight the management, and uninhibited by requisite journalistic ethics, the company serves to an eager public as many salacious stories as its press can crank out before daylight. There is simply no downside.  When the Grass Valley print shop began its new business model, we know not. Our own labors encouraging local corruption have derailed our attention from the novel broadsheet. It was brought to our attention only this week, when that business ran a story of great benefit to Sierra County’s economy.
“We come across as Knotts Berry Farm on steroids,” grins Sheriff John Evans in appreciation of the Grass Valley firm.  The Union’s Sierra County promotion piece contained the suggestion of a donnybrook during last weekend’s Clampers’ Doin’s involving District Attorney Larry Allen.  Allen, the author of the memorial plaque now gracing the Downieville Museum was certainly in town that evening. Unfortunately for him, a long-time antagonist was also attending the event.
The antagonist’s unexamined version of the evening is the fundament of the Union’s new style.  “There was no fight,” Allen explains with eyes rolling. His version of the non-event is corroborated by many who attended the doin’s or happened to be present. Perhaps unknown to the perpetrators of this tale the St. Charles, the alleged venue of the anonymously reported fight, has video equipment which oversees the premises.  This august journal, restrained as we sometimes are by pesky facts and the nuisance of our own odd sense of fairness, is deeply indebted to the Union’s new style, as otherwise our reporter would have been forced to find an actual story to fill this space.
The Mountain Messenger