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GOP house organ?

James Dorsey

In the past two weeks the Daily has been responsible for my blood pressure spiking on four separate occasions. Two commentators, the editor and now the publisher all offering oddly reasoned but very loyal articles supporting President Bush, current conservative icon. And, on a psychological note, I’ve been aggrieved by being called a “Democrat”! I think I’m gonna sue!

Mr. Pope’s commentry on “free trade” (March 31), was cogent, admirably researched, and hard to argue with. As long as he stayed on free trade, that is.



As soon as he strayed into political analysis, Mr. Pope, like his commentators and editor, immediately falls victim to his own bias and totally loses (abandons?) perspective.

Mr. Pope is correct. Mr. Kerry has rather baldly moved toward the Democratic center on free trade. Why is that either a surprise or a sin? When Kerry represented a state constituency of largely liberal and professional voters, he could indulge himself. As the leader now of the Democratic Party, with a large labor constituency, perhaps he feels a political requirement to move toward the center. Why that makes him some kind of morally reprehensible human being, as Mr. Pope implies, is beyond me. (But then, these people at the Daily usually never feel a compunction to actually support their claims. They just say “it’s commentary.”)



Both Democrats and Republicans know that this whole “outsourcing” debate is a red herring. As long as labor costs are, say, $15 an hour in South Carolina as opposed to $2 an hour in India, no amount of tax incentives or regulation is going to do one darn thing. Kerry knows it. Bush knows it! (Perhaps the latter isn’t quite as certain.) So why, for Mr. Pope, does this become a moral issue? (For the rednecks sitting there steaming about those “wogs” stealing our jobs, you might remember that India possesses the largest and most difficult technical university system in the world. They’re competitive as hell!)

Is Pope actually trying to propose that campaign rhetoric is an indication of moral fiber? Be careful there! George Bush’s campaign promises are on film and video. Do you really want to make campaign promises the measure of a president? Or are you merely comfortable that no one will really look, and certainly no one will call you on your intellectual hypocrisy?

Mostly though, I’m struck by Mr. Pope’s opportunism. It’s either that or he simply doesn’t get it. As Mr. Pope was writing his excoriation based on this life and death issue, free trade, how many Americans died in Iraq? How many tons of heroin were shipped from Afghanistan to the U.S.? Never mind! Serious journalism requires some measure of even-handedness.



As I read it, Mr. Pope points to three “missed” trade votes and criticism of NAFTA’s imperfections as clear evidence of Kerry’s lack of moral fiber. Three votes in 19 years. Such a shilly-shally!

Here’s some news for you, sir. Every election in our history that involved a president seeking a second term was a referendum of that president’s first term. This election is and will be purely about George Bush. That’s despite the best efforts of loyal conservative pundits like yourself to divert attention from that performance. If you want to at least pretend to be a serious journalist and do your readers a service, how about a decent, objective, non-partisan analysis of the last four years? That would be more enjoyable and more credible, and more valuable, than obviously partisan, self-indulgent, political rants.

As I said, Mr. Pope was prescient on the free trade issue. His two full columns of excoriation of John Kerry bespeaks a religious fervor disturbing in a newspaper publisher. There used to be a guy who ran the Manchester Union Leader who did the same thing, just as shamelessly, for 40 years. That was in New Hampshire and actually did affect national politics. I read that rag for four years and am ashamed to say it was the first thing I thought of when I read Pope’s article. Same kind of journalism. If it were 1952, the Daily would be trumpeting the “black list” and defending McCarthy. Same kind of blind, unquestioning and ultimately misled loyalty.

So! The one thing we learn for sure from this wholly disingenuous column is what we can expect for the next eight months from the Daily. We’ll have Mazzuca, Carnes, Rogers and now Pope, the boss, all loyally touting the Republican line.

Not one question from them will be asked that might be construed as critical of Bush! Kerry will become the anti-Christ liberal with one thing for sure: No one on the Daily staff will ever look at his side of the story.

If he voted against a military appropriation because there was an anti-abortion amendment attached, the Daily will report that Kerry doesn’t support the military. If Kerry agreed, based on assurances of danger to the U.S. from the president, to support military action but then later didn’t agree to the $87 billion, then Kerry is a flip-flop. Every time Kerry voted to continue a tax levy on gasoline (4 cents a gal) that was passed 10 years ago by a routine bi-partisan vote, he has voted for a tax increase on gasoline. Nineteen years of Senate service provides a lot of fodder and conservative loyalists feel no compunction to be accurate (neither will liberal activists, in fairness).

The Daily will dutifully report this vote or that vote. They’ll never tell you whether they were “straight-up” votes or “Christmas trees.” They will serve their bias before their readership as they have done to date.

Mr. Pope’s disingenuous dramatization of Mr. Kerry’s free trade record and his moral demonization of Kerry would be no more than politics as usual, except for one thing. The Daily dominates the media in this small market.

The Daily doesn’t make the slightest effort at balance. Most people, in whatever industry (but most traditionally the news business), feel some compunction, however minor, to provide a balanced point of view. To most people, that is a basic element of honesty.

Other than the occasional letter writer who might disagree with the right wing propaganda, the Daily consistently refuses to provide any counterpoint or to hire anyone who might provide a different point of view from, coincidentally, the boss.

Mr. Pope, rest assured, Mr. Kerry understands free trade even better than you do. Selecting little voting tidbits and sound bites and turning those into dramatic evidence of moral turpitude is so transparent as to be insulting to the reader.

The very scary thing is, judging from the letters section, with the exception of a very few regulars, this kind of journalism is perfectly acceptable to the large majority of readers. Just call it commentary!

James Dorsey

Avon


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