A Sad Farewell to My Friend, Deborah Yesner

December 24, 2009 at 7:27 PM 14 comments

In January of 2004 I sent an email to Robert Greenwald, then an independent film producer, now the head of Brave New Films.  That email changed my life; it resulted in me becoming one of eight researchers on Robert’s film, Outfoxed:  Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism.

From there, we eight — outraged at what we learned during the making of Outfoxed — established the blog, News Hounds in June of that year.

Among us we watched thousands of hours of Fox “News.”  During the summer and fall of 2004 we watched in horror as Fox lead the charge in the Swift Boating of John Kerry and Kerry’s refusal (or inability, or whatever it was) to fight back.  After the election, we were exhausted.

It was hard to get back on the horse but we all essentially committed to keep going; to keep exposing Fox for what is was — anything but “fair and balanced.”  We hoped Democrats — particularly Democrats who had a say in things — were noticing what an amazing and well-oiled propaganda machine Fox was.  Still don’t know if they were or are.

Deborah Yesner was one of us; one of the original eight.  She taught special needs kids in her real life.  She worked all day — five days a week — at that thankless job.  Exhausted, frustrated, underpaid, she’d come home and — how she found the energy I don’t know other than to say that it was a testament to how much she believed in what she was doing — she’d monitor Bill O’Reilly; The Factor.  (Can you imagine doing that after a hard day’s work?)  She’d spend an hour watching the show and then an hour or three posting about it — for four years — for no pay mind you, other than the pittance in donations we’d split among us every quarter.  (ChrisBG, another member of our group, figured it out at one point: we were bringing in roughly 6¢ and hour for the hours we worked.)

Then, in October of 2008, after suffering from very bad headaches for several days, Deborah — Deb as we called her — suffered a ruptured aneurysm in her brain.  For the past year+ her husband and daughter have cared for her as she suffered infection after infection; was moved in and out of the hospital, back home and then to a nursing home and back to the hospital.  On and on.  The hospital took care of her physical needs, but the nursing home that her husband’s insurance would pay for was unequipped to care for her medical needs as well as provide the physical therapy required to give her a fighting chance to recover to the fullest extent.  A facility like that was a step or ten above what his insurance would pay for and he couldn’t afford the out-of-pocket expense.  (One can only imagine — $10,000 per week?)

On Tuesday I learned that Deb had contracted a very serious infection.  The doctors said there was nothing more they could do.  Her husband and daughter decided to put her on a morphine drip and make her as comfortable as possible.  Today her devastated and heartbroken family had the strength to inform us that Deb died later that day.

Deborah Yesner was a fierce believer in freedom of the press and in the freedom of speech.  But she did not think it was right that a “news” network that claimed it was “fair and balanced,” but in reality was the primary propaganda outlet for the Republican party, should be allowed to use that slogan.

Deb was a jewel.  She loved her husband and daughter with all her heart and soul.  She was a wonderful person and a cherished friend.  Her death is an indescribable loss to me and to the world.

Good-bye Deb.  Love you (but I can’t believe I’m writing these words).



Entry filed under: Musings.

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14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. LindaH  |  December 25, 2009 at 11:09 PM

    I am so sorry you have lost someone you have loved and admired.

  • 2. Nancy  |  December 27, 2009 at 5:32 PM

    Melanie –
    Thanks for a beautiful & heartfelt piece. We will all miss her, in ways both big & small. She made such an impact on everyone. I’m still trying to process it.

  • 3. Chris Bradley (Marie Therese)  |  December 27, 2009 at 11:24 PM

    Thanks for writing this, Melanie. Like you, I still can’t believe that Deb has left us.

  • 4. Dahgrostab'ph-r-i  |  December 28, 2009 at 8:50 AM

    RIP Debbie.

    I baught the outfoxed documentary. It is an excellent look at the fraud that is Fox “news” – people like Debbie are an invaluable asset to the free world. She can be proud of her lifes work and my thoughts go out to her family.

  • 5. Russell King  |  December 28, 2009 at 10:54 AM

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful person. Thank you. And God bless.

  • 6. david in elyria  |  December 28, 2009 at 10:54 AM

    Thank you for the memorial to Deb, Melanie. I wish I had hung around the blog earlier to get to know her better.

  • 7. Aunty Em Ericann  |  December 28, 2009 at 1:56 PM

    A lovely tribute. I wish I had known this dynamo better, but through her friends I am learning how special Deb was.

    With all my love,
    Aunty Em

  • 8. MS347  |  December 28, 2009 at 5:13 PM

    So Deborah was one of the people behind “Outfoxed”? I didn’t know that but am thankful that she took the time to participate in that fine piece of work. FOX News is not fair and balanced and they deserve to be called out on their propagandist techniques. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Deborah irritated BillO to no end with her Newshounds posts as he doesn’t like his lies and errors pointed out to him. RIP in peace, Deborah, knowing that you played a part in exposing the FOX News fallacies.

  • 9. Say It Ain't So Already  |  December 28, 2009 at 5:36 PM

    Yes, we definitely got under BillO’s skin but we fought back and he slunk away: http://www.newshounds.us/2005/03/04/dear_bill_oreilly_you_dont_scare_us.php

  • 10. Commemorating Deborah Yesner - Fox News Watchdog  |  December 28, 2009 at 10:15 PM

    […] Melanie wrote this lovely post about […]

  • 11. Someguy  |  January 1, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    Condolences to the family. What a tragedy that she wasted so much of her last few years watching a television show that she hated. That might have contributed to her condition.

    Bill O’Reilly is still here, and so is her family, probably wishing that she had spent a little less time watching Fox News and a little more time with them while she was still healthy.

  • 12. Norm Sternfeld M.A.  |  February 28, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    It is through tears that I write to thank you for your sharing about my Cousin Debbie. I always admired and loved her. I did not know of her brilliant work on behalf of the truth. She will be always remembered and always loved.

  • 13. Say It Ain't So Already  |  February 28, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    Thank YOU. She was a warrior and yes, she will always be loved.

  • 14. Alan Goldman  |  June 29, 2011 at 4:36 PM

    my name is Alan Goldman very old friend of Debbie and Denny hadn’t seen them in years. Was just thinking about them and googled their names was very sad to read the news. My phone is 215 293 0021 if anybody reads this i would love to speak to Denny.

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