Sunday, June 26, 2005

Still more editorial overview

I owe a lot to the Chattanooga Times. From the time I was a pre-teen, but already getting interested in ideas and philosophies and politics, I learned about dishonesty and bias in "news"papers.
The Times distorted, for example, a 1964 student mock election. It was a primary, with Democrats running against Democrats and Barry Goldwater standing tall against some piddly nobodies who should have been Democrats. (Hmmmm. Does anyone get the feeling I might have been partisan?)
Fulfilling expectations, the Democrat students voted pretty overwhelmingly for Lyndon Johnson and the Republicans, still a minority in those days, choosing Goldwater.
The Times, though, headlined, "Johnson Beats Goldwater."
I will remember till the day I die a front-page story headlined, "Goldwater Man Turns To Scranton."
Scranton was the then-governor of Pennsylvania, and about the 19th candidate the leftish Republicans threw across the path of Goldwater.
Probably very few people even remember his name today, and with good reason.
Anyway, the headline was a big chortle from the propagandists of the Times, but the story itself was a big yawn to anybody reading it. Essentially, a seventh vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers said Bill Scranton would be a good second choice, after Barry Goldwater!
Today we use the term "disconnect" to describe the relationship between the head and the story.
Those are the two I remember, but of course there were dozens, scores more examples of bias and/or dishonesty -- just as with the rest of the "news" media that year.
The Times, perhaps mostly or solely for its leftward slant, did something almost no other morning papers in the country did: Fell behind the Free Press, its afternoon competitor, in circulation.
When about seven years ago the two papers were merged into one by the new corporate owner, one exceptionally good thing -- or at least potentially exceptionally good thing -- was done: The editorial pages were continued as separate entities. The Times is, appropriately, on the left-hand page and the Free Press, appropriately, on the right.
The left columns tend to be hysterical anti-Bush diatribes, from the likes of the vulgar Molly Ivins and Ellen Goodman and the opaque E.J. Dionne, Jr., although there is occasionally Thomas Friedman or David Broder or, far too infrequently, the superlative William Raspberry.
The right columnists include the brilliant Walter Williams, but often the run-of-the-mill rightists with no new insights but just the usual cant such as Phyllis Schlafly and William Rusher.
Dr. Williams actually explains things, detailing ideas and underlying philosophies.
On Friday, 24 June 2005, the Times published a cartoon by Wright of the Palm Beach Post. In front of what seems to be a painting or poster of the Muppets is an obvious curmudgeon, identified by a lapel button saying "GOP" and muttering "Another liberal cabal."
Nowhere have I seen, in print or on the Internet or on television, nor have I heard, on radio or anywhere, ANYone saying the Muppets were "liberals."
It is a fact, though, the Muppets' creator, Jim Henson, who, about 1990, died rich because of the Muppets' popularity and clever capitalist merchandising, was indeed a leftist activist.
It was his leftist activism that first brought him to the attention of the WGBH TV station in Boston, and from there he branched out into Public Broadcasting System programming, and thence into the much better-paying commercial networks and, even better paying, motion pictures.
In Henson's generally charming and enjoyable first film, "The Muppet Movie" (1979), starting Kermit and Miss Piggy and all the rest, plus Orson Welles, Henson's leftism was splashed right in front of everybody, not even very subtly: The bad guy, played by Charles Durning, who wanted Kermit's legs for a line of food, very ostentatiously wore an American flag lapel pin.
So the Times cartoon is a silly straw-man effort at caricaturing Republicans and rightists (who these days do well enough, thank you, at caricaturing themselves), and is further demonstration the Times editorial page editors know not whereof they publish.

1 comment:

  1. Michael, I truly understand your pain; we have the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (or Past-Disgrace, as it is known in these parts) which is as biased and unprofessional a newspaper as exists in America. The writing is on a fourth-grade level, the main body of the paper is tabloid or thinly veiled editorials, and the editorial reasoning is left of Dennis Kucinich.

    The galling aspect of all this is that the Post did everything it could to drive the old Globe-Democrat out of business, then bemoaned the failure of their competitor. The Globe was a rather mild conservative paper, and offered an alternative to the radical leftism of the Post. The Pulitzer organization hated the Globe, and pushed them economically when they fell on hard times. They switched from evening to morning deliveries (which was the Globe`s normal time slot) and pressured the Printers Union to drive a hard bargain during negotiations with the Globe. Finally, the Globe went out of business, and THEN the Post began running holier-than-thou articles about how much the Globe would be missed and how sad it was to see such a fine paper go under etc.

    So now we are stuck with one of the worst papers in the country as our only local paper here in St. Louis. The Post has been milking the good reputation it earned in the early days under Pulitzer for decades, and the paper has continued to slide in quality. It`s pathetic!

    I wish we, like you, had been lucky enough to have the Globe saved on one side of our newsprint.