Steve Mistler’s recent Telegram article (“As rhetoric heats up, politics takes combative tone in Maine,” May 3) was a timely lament on the state of public discourse in our state. Neither political party can claim the moral high ground particularly when their leadership, elected officials and rank- and-file members are firing live verbal ammo at one another.

What struck me in the article, however, was the absence of any reference to the vitriolic columns and editorials by MaineToday Media staff.

Over the last four years, it feels that no effort was made by the newspapers to champion civil debate. In fact, it appeared that every effort was made to incite exaggerated responses toward politicians not favored by the papers.

As an example, the weekly beatings on Gov. LePage sanctioned by the papers and most often administered by Bill Nemitz were sarcastic, demeaning and sophomoric.

The accompanying photos of the governor were equally grotesque and persistently unflattering. No matter how easy or tempting it may have been to pillory the governor, the public was not well served.

I believe a daily newspaper should be a 360-degree window onto the world and that reporters should present facts from which informed readers can draw conclusions.

In contrast, those who write opinion pieces should be relegated to the editorial pages.

In that way, readers will not have to wonder if the information they are receiving is news or opinion.

The field is wide open for Maine-Today Media to not only campaign for civil debate but also lead by example.

Tony Payne