I don’t think I can handle much more

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and I have been at odds for some time. While I was pleased and grateful for their help during the Hyatt Smokergate debacle, the way they have handled the issues surrounding Governor Walker’s assault on the State’s public workforce has been irresponsible. If the editorial board wanted to support Walker’s radical positions, that’s obviously their right. But more often than not, the board acted as though nothing all that significant had happened. Thousands of us lost long-standing rights for which others had fought so hard for. We were devastated and the Journal-Sentinel’s repeated assertions that Walker’s kneecapping was no big deal was insulting. And then when the paper reendorsed him in the recall, arguing a recall wasn’t appropriate because the protests just amounted to a “policy dispute,” I just about lost my mind. Goddamnit, a recall is appropriate any time at least 25% of the voters in the last gubernatorial election say it is. See Wis. Const. Art. XIII § 12.

Anyway, given all of that, I didn’t think I could get much more annoyed with the paper. Once again, though, I was wrong. This week, the paper declared it would no longer make political endorsements because to do so would be to put their independence at risk. I don’t even know where to begin my tirade against this braindead statement. Well, let me start here: I do not give a whatwhat whether this ridiculous paper endorses anyone. It makes no difference to me at all. But, to say that a paper puts its independence at risk by evaluating two candidates, assessing their record and choosing to recommend one over the other is offensive. As AO consistently complains, there is no need or desire or – I may argue – place for independence in journalism. Yes, journalists probably should not work for campaigns because there would be an appearance that their reporting was not accurate and was instead merely campaign rhetoric. But I don’t expect any journalist not to have an opinion on what stories are important, what merits coverage and which candidate is better. I don’t understand this emphasis on independence. I think, in the words of the great Vice President Joe Biden, it’s a bunch of malarky.

It reminds me of the great debate over the judiciary. Should judges be able to be a part of a political party? No, say some, citing the need for an independent judiciary. Yes, say others, it’s their first amendment right. Yes, say I, because it would be more honest and transparent. Judges are people who are, like the rest of us non-felonious over-18-ers, allowed to vote. So they pick and choose candidates during every election season, like the rest of us. Why pretend they don’t have opinions? I’d rather know of them up front than mandate they hide them. I honestly don’t really care how they vote, I just want my judges honest, brilliant and compassionate.

Similarly, I don’t really care how the journalists I follow vote. I just want them honest and sharp and persistent. I want them to find me the truth. As I remind you, Dear Reader, that Errol Morris often reminds us, there is a truth. It is not leftist or right-wing, it is not progressive or conservative. It just is. And it’s the job of the journalist to find it and tell us about it.

And it’s the job of an editorial board to take that truth and make a choice. I think the Journal-Sentinel’s choice not to do so in the name of independence is both disingenuous and cowardly.

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1 Response to “I don’t think I can handle much more”


  1. 1 kateandgracie October 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Crickets.

    This is embarrassing. I clearly do not have my finger on the pulse of my own blog. Eeks.

    In other news, I had a delicious sandwich yesterday.


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