N.J. reporters debate whether public has a right to know Sheila Oliver’s cause of death

Sheila Oliver’s death was announced on August 1st, Save Jerseyans. Two days later, yours truly was the first (in print, anyway) to question the stunning lack of disclosure concerning the late lieutenant governor’s death AND the establishment media’s lack of interest in hunting down an answer.

Two weeks went by. The funeral happened. The LG is already fading into memory, and Murphy is reiterating his refual to disclose anything.

In the interim, yours truly called out the media for once again failing to do its job:

“Just look at the bizarre coverage of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver’s passing. Can you imagine a scenario where a vice president was hospitalized on a Monday without warning, passed away on a Tuesday, and NO EXPLANATION was provided to the general public? And the president subsequently confirmed that no information would be forthcoming?”

Then randomly, earlier today (August 17th), Dustin Racioppi of Politico-New Jersey penned a NJ Playbook piece echoing yours truly:

“For all intents and purposes, Oliver was the state-level analogue to Vice President Kamala Harris,” opined Racioppi, who distinguished himself during Covid as one of the few reporters willing to question Murphy’s lockdown talking points. “If Harris had been hospitalized and then died — especially while filling in for Joe Biden — the public would expect, and the press would demand, to know all the details. Why should it be any different here?”

Unsurprisingly, Racioppi’s commentary drew a snarky rebuke from NJ 101.5’s Sergio Bichao:

Bichao’s “better things to crusade about quip” obviously admitted more than he intended. News of an alleged in-station debate is also very interesting.

NJ 101.5 boss Eric Scott previously made his opinion known that the public’s right to know here is non-existent.

“Sheila Oliver is only the second person to ever hold the office of lieutenant governor, so there is no precedent on what information is released, and her cause of death may remain a private family matter,” wrote station manager Eric Scott in an August 4th op-ed. “For now, the family and state government is focusing on the celebration of a life lived dedicated to public service and the countless lives Oliver impacted in a profoundly positive way.”

Dustin’s opinion appears to be that the “for now” is now over. But as of yet, sadly, he appears to be a man on an island (at least in terms of his willingness to go public) and the Murphy Administration is consequently getting away with yet another egregious breach of its duty to the people of this state.

Matt Rooney
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MATT ROONEY is SaveJersey.com's founder and editor-in-chief, a practicing New Jersey attorney, and the host of 'The Matt Rooney Show' on 1210 WPHT every Sunday evening from 7-10PM EST.