Maine First Media dropped a bombshell recording recently from a Values and Vision Summit held by the Maine Democratic Party. In the recording, Richard Fochtmann can be heard celebrating the rise in white men committing suicide and the attendees laughing at the joke.
In the time since, the national media has picked up the story from the Washington Times to Fox News’s Tucker Carlson. Conservative activists and suicide prevention advocates have both taken issue with the comments, which paint a disturbing picture of the Maine Democratic Party.
The only thing missing to this point was any official word form the Party or Chairman Phil Bartlett. After a few days of silence, a response was finally given int he form of a statement
“The Maine Democratic Party today released the following statement on a secretly recorded video published by an anonymous far-Right social media account:
“For the past month, the Maine Democratic Party held public forums all over the state of Maine inviting anyone interested to come and share their thoughts on the direction of the state party. We’ve heard from hundreds of Maine progressives and we are incredibly proud of the time and effort put in by Mainers to get involved in our party.
Because the far-Right does not hold their own public forums, they attended one of ours, secretly recorded it and published a selectively edited video. The recorded public forum attendee’s words were offensive and do not represent the views of the Maine Democratic Party. He was promptly called out by another attendee and took the mic again to apologize, which was purposely cut from the video.
When you hand a microphone to a private citizen, you risk hearing words you don’t agree with. That’s what happened here. Painting a private citizen at a public forum as a featured speaker at a summit is not the first time this anonymously run far-Right account has tried to spread misinformation, and it won’t be the last.
We will not be intimidated by far-Right Twitter accounts who hide in anonymity and spread misinformation. The Maine Democratic Party will continue making ourselves publicly available to voters and working with the powerful grassroots energy uniting Democrats in Maine.”
While the Maine Democratic Party states the joke do not represent the Party, they painted the speaker as someone who is not affiliated with Democrats formally. The problem is this isn’t entirely true.
Richard Fochtmann ran for State Senate last year against Republican Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason. Maine Democrats chose him to be their candidate to try and unseat a prominent Republican State Senator. That’s a heavy endorsement of Fochtmann’s character.
What if the voters had selected Fochtmann? Maine Democrats would have had a sitting State Senator making jokes about white men committing suicide and celebrating the rise in incidents.
There was no misinformation spread about the Maine Democratic Party. A former candidate for State Senate celebrated more people taking their own lives and the audience is very clearly heard laughing at the fact white men are committing suicide at a higher rate.
The video speaks for itself.
Numerous questions still remain that the Maine Democratic Party did not address in their statement.
The recording has been out for a few days now. Why did it take so long for the Maine Democratic Party to address their crowd taking pleasure in suicide?
The crowd clearly was laughing at Fochtmann’s suicide joke. Maine Democratic Party chairman Phil Bartlett was in the crowd, as well. Did he laugh, too?
The questions here are important. The Maine Democratic Party’s late disavowal looks disingenuous, as it came after the national news picked up the story. If the likes of the Washington Times and other national outlets didn’t make a big deal of it, would they have even acknowledged that joking about suicide is wrong?
Also, if Chairman Bartlett laughed and found humor in more people committing suicide, Maine Democrats need to evaluate their party leadership and question their handling of this issue.
This isn’t a conspiracy to frame Democrats. The Maine Democratic Party trying to play victim after they used suicide as a punchline is morally wrong and absolutely heartless.
Suicide is a real issue and it is above partisan politics, contrary to what the Maine Democratic Party believes.