Yesterday was a good day, ’cause I got to write about Joe


What with my department being down from four editorial writers (we call ’em "associate editors") to two, I’m having to write more editorials myself these days.

That means more editorials on national and international subjects. It’s best for metro subjects to be handled by Warren Bolton, and state topics by Cindi Scoppe. Those are their areas of expertise. That just leaves the rest of the world to me.

It also means you’ll read more editorials with UnParty themes, because that’s what I’m interested in. Hey, you want editorials from me, I’m going to write them whenever possible on stuff that interests me, Al Franken. Or whoever I am.

Hence today’s piece about Joe Lieberman. John McCain robbed me of the chance to write lots about my man Joe during the election when he picked You Know Who from the frozen tundra. Think what a fine time I would have had.

But this week’s events gave me the chance to write about Joe anyway. And that’s a good thing.

13 thoughts on “Yesterday was a good day, ’cause I got to write about Joe

  1. Herb Brasher

    Here’s a question for you, though you may not find it particularly exciting. Deborah Howell at the Washington Post has been devoting her column to the subject of media bias. Here a quote (though I do hate to make you bristle again with the use of the labels, “conservative,” “liberal,” etc.):

    But some of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt are valid. Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. I’ll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don’t even want to be quoted by name in a memo.
    Journalists bristle at the thought of their coverage being viewed as unfair or unbalanced; they believe that their decisions are journalistically reasonable and that their politics do not affect how they cover and display stories.
    Tom Rosenstiel, a former political reporter who directs the Project for Excellence in Journalism, said, “The perception of liberal bias is a problem by itself for the news media. It’s not okay to dismiss it. Conservatives who think the press is deliberately trying to help Democrats are wrong. But conservatives are right that journalism has too many liberals and not enough conservatives. It’s inconceivable that that is irrelevant.”

    Mollie Hemingway at suggests that part of the problem is the requirement that journalists have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in journalism–they end up all coming from the same direction, tackling the issues the same way:

    One of the newsrooms I worked in was trying to hire more non-white employees. And yet they required a master’s degree in journalism or equivalent. Perhaps I’m biased since I got neither an undergraduate nor graduate degree in journalism, but I thought this silly requirement might have something to do with the fact that everyone in the newsroom looked the same, acted the same, lived and came from the same general socio-economic background and, not coincidentally, believed the same things. Every beat — and not just religion — would benefit from breaking open this system a bit more. Alternatively, maybe the media industry as we know it is imploding and without a bailout will die a certain death. Maybe greater bias is their plan for the future. Will that work?

    Surely a broad, knowledgeable background is needed (something you obviously have). But I was just thinking of the diversity in your editorial room, and maybe some of the strength that it shows is the fact that Warren, Cindy, and yourself come from totally different directions. At least it seems to me that you do.

  2. Brad Warthen

    … and I come from the Joe Lieberman direction. Y’all will note that in the original UnParty column, back in 2005, I mentioned him and McCain and Lindsey Graham. I had forgotten that until I looked back at it today…

    Others on the board are OK with Joe, but not the way I am. As I think I’ve said here before, the reason we endorsed him in 2004 was that I filibustered for three hours and wore everyone down (then promptly lost my voice and couldn’t speak for days).

    The day Mike Fitts left the paper, he gave me a gift he knew I’d appreciate: His copy of The New Republic from Jan. 19, 2004, with Joe on the cover — they endorsed him, too.

    As for the quotes you share about journalist… I think I’ve said this before, too. But my theory is this: Journalists go to college together, and they form the same kind of vaguely, ill-defined liberal attitudes that most people pick up at college. But after college, most people go out into the world and engage other people in discussion, and their views evolve.

    That doesn’t happen with journalists, for a couple of reasons. First, the bizarre hours we work tends to limit our social circles to other journalists (I was lucky in this respect; I got to work for the first 10 years at an afternoon paper, which allows a normal life with PTA meetings, church committees, etc. — most afternoon papers are now long gone). Lots of journalists marry other journalist. How they can stand it I don’t know, but they do.

    Secondly, since journalists are not supposed to HAVE opinions, they don’t really closely examine the attitudes they DO have. This means they don’t develop past those vaguely liberal notions they sort of picked up by osmosis in school. Since they don’t EXPRESS opinions, their opinions don’t get challenged, so they remain in their original fuzzy shape.

    I didn’t fully develop that theory until I had been in editorial for awhile, and happened to realize the extent to which I had to think a lot harder about things when I was going to arrive at conclusions and PUBLISH those conclusions for the whole world to challenge. I had thought I was a thoughtful guy as a news man, but on issue after issue I realized I had been sort of shallow or reflexive. It’s not so much that I changed my mind on issues, as I went deeper, and on many issues figured out what I actually THOUGHT for the first time.

    The thing about being vaguely liberal, like most news people, is that you don’t actually HAVE sharply defined opinions about a lot of things. You just have a sort of overall attitude, and it’s the same one as people around you, so you don’t even think of it as an attitude.

    Did any of that make sense?

  3. Herb Brasher

    It makes a lot of sense. I guess I have two follow-up questions, then, but obviously you have more things to do than answer my questions. Still, I’ll ask them:
    1) Has the time involved in keeping this blog helped at all in further forming your opinions, or is it mostly a opportunity for others to express their opinions/rants? What worth do you see in blogs in general?
    2) If journalists in their natural state aren’t “supposed to have opinions” then is the electronic media totally different? I’m assuming that TV “journalism”–or what do you call those guys?–I mean in polite terms– is the opposite, or at least has become that. I mean that everyone in this country seems to choose the news that fits their ideological bent. Obviously everyone has their bias, but I find myself wanting to always go to the Europeans (BBC, Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper) for any kind of real objective analysis of the world or world happenings.
    Now I’m not sure if my questions make sense or not.

  4. Herb Brasher

    OK, I’m beginning to get it. I got this quote from a commenter on the same piece:

    Doesn’t anyone else see the problem with journalists wanting to change the world? That’s not what I want the news for. The news should be about what is happening or has happened. Those five Ws: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.
    Although as far as I’m concerned, they could improve their product immensely by simply dropping the ‘Why” out of news articles for a few years. Just tell us the facts, leave the opinion to the editorial pages. Then they might actually have room for more stories that aren’t getting covered right now, and weren’t during the election period when they might really have changed the world.

    I guess I’m still fuzzy on where the boundary should be between news and editorial. Journalism 101, most likely?

  5. bud

    It seems as though the MSM is more about form that it is about substance. It’s more important to be bipartisan or non-partisan than it is to be right. Take for example the Three Stooges: McCain, Lieberman and Graham. Much is made of the fact that these 3 have banded together to work across party lines to build consensus to get things done. Well what is it they have done? First, they worked tirelessly to enable the president to lie us into a disasterous war/occupation that has destroyed the lives of thousands of Americans and Iraqis. Second, they worked together on a “compromise” that led ultimately to the confirmation of two of the worst Supreme Court justices in modern history, Alito and Roberts.
    Yet they’ve failed to bring about effective legislation to prevent the collapse of the housing market and the economy. They’ve failed to build international cooperation. Frankly, they’ve failed utterly in accomplishing much of anything useful to the American people.
    So why laud these 3 for their bi-partisan cooperation? It’s just a matter of form over substance. In the bigger scheme of things the 3 stooges have effectively enabled the worst president in American history to do great harm to the American economy, international goodwill and the integrity of the Constitution. It’s time to stamp out the Axis of Stooges and relegate them to the dustbin of history.
    Bipartisanship should not be viewed as an end but rather as a means to accomplish things. When those accomplishments are wrong they should be condemned not lauded.

  6. Lee Muller

    I think Brad is being honest in his admission that journalists live and work among themselves. They don’t get out in the world enough, and usually don’t have any deep knowledge of other subjects, especially technical ones, science, medicine and law. That is one reason they are so easily led around by pretentious experts and professional image creators.
    Even large news organizations which can afford a science or medical reporter generally just let them do their own columns, without serving as a resource to the other reporters and editors. That is why we get so many hysteria stories based on junk science, if there is any basis even pulled into the stories.

  7. bud

    I’m speechless. Brad has articulated one of the 3 major costs of war far better than I ever could. The other 2 are (2) the various trauma issues associated with the civilian population and (3)the exhorbitant fincancial burden it places on a nation. Finally a pro-occupation ideologue addresses the cost issue, something I’ve stressed for years now as the overriding issue in the Iraq war. The benefit side of the equation is a riddle, shrouded in a mystery encased in an enigma (Churchill said something like that in reference to the USSR). In other words there really isn’t any benefit to our invasion and continued occupation in Iraq.
    So we have a new generation of veterans begging for a couple of bucks to buy a sandwich, or more likely, a bottle of MD 20/20. The only price the war monger class has to endure is encapsulated by an awkward moment when one of our “war heros” thrusts his beleagured face into the life of one editorial page editor to beg for a few bucks. Yet the culprits in this tragedy can drive home to the safety and comfort of their suburban home to bitch a bit about the upcoming deadline or the mound of fire ants that has suddenly appeared on their lawn. Perhaps if the war hero and the editorial page editor could trade places for just one day the FULL impact of their crass war mongering attitude could be appreciated. Instead we are left to stand in puzzlement over how an intelligent person with a great gift for persuasion can reach such a horribly wrong conclusion about the threats of a far away hapless despot. Even when the cost of war is thrust, ever so briefly, into the life of our editorial board writer it seems to make little difference. A shrug a grumble, a brief moment of reflection and the “cost” is over. Perhaps if Brad were to spend more time at the homeless shelter and less in the Summit Club he would meet even more “war heros” whose lives were shattered by an arrogant president and complacent congress.
    There will be other opportunities to do the right thing. We will certainly be in a postion to end a war rather than start one at some future time. Hopefully we will choose better next time.
    The cost of this war stares us in the face as we search for a way out. Why did we let this tragedy come to pass? What were we thinking when we allowed President Moran to thrust us into this disaster? Whatever it was we now have to deal with it. Even if for only a few moments in Five-Points parking lot.

  8. Lee Muller

    How phony for liberals Democrats to complain about a war their party voted for in 1998 and again in 2002.
    And how phony for them, most of whom pay no taxes, to complain about the cost of the war on terrorism.
    What they are complaining about is not having that money spent directly on themselves.

  9. p.m.

    Amazing, bud. You were “speechless,” and yet you wrote about 400 words, some 395 of them spelled correctly.
    That’s progress.

  10. Ralph Hightower

    Oh good, an article about “Joe the Senator” and not “Joe the Plumber”.
    Hopefully, JTP fades into the sunset/.


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