Search This Blog


Shreveport Times bias all that different from decade ago?

We’re unalike in many ways – she has some assets that I don’t, she’s blond and I’m not, and she writes bombastically while mine is a more measured approach – but one thing we have in common is that, in essence, as opinion columnists the Shreveport Times has fired both Ann Coulter and myself. And that tells us something about the local Gannett affiliate’s editorial side, then and today.

Coulter’s canning was the subject of much Times debate (which it made public). The event that triggered it had nothing to do with her writing but a remark she made in a speech that a few groups of out the American mainstream found annoying. But being that these groups’ views comported to those of a large portion of America’s media elites, the remark was publicized by them far beyond any realistic value it had to public policy debate.

The Times let itself get caught up in this frenzy. Of course, it has the right to run whatever columnist’s work it wants, just as the public has the right to decline to read it (and it has increasingly exercised this option). But it bent over backwards to give explanations as to why her column was cancelled and, after readers’ complaints, even taking on some friendly fire when it also dumped the equally strident but liberal pundit Bill Press. (Shreveport’s weekly news/entertainment tabloid, Forum News, now carries both.)

The reason why The Times went to such explanatory lengths was to obscure that Coulter was banished because she is just too good at what she does – exposing the hypocrisy, fallacies, and anti-intellectualism of today’s liberalism. Apparently, I was granted the same honor eight years ago.

Just about a decade ago, the editorial staff at The Times (who I think just one member of which remains with it today) decided they should create a regular rotation of paid columnists who were local and mandated to write about state and local issues. I was one, another was a fellow political scientist at a university away from here, another selected still writes for Fax-Net Update, and a few others were chosen. My academician colleague was dispatched from the gig quickly, and, about 18 months later, I was the next to go.

By the time it happened, I pretty much figured out why. Right from the start it was clear I was the only, “token” conservative of the bunch. Do not ever forget that The Times, like most of the mass media because of their liberal ideology, does not welcome but only tolerates well-argued conservative opinion, putting up with it only because the majority of its opinion consumers prefer it and so they cannot get away without throwing a sop to such customers.

Worse, I was not going to play the “house” conservative role. The “house” conservative is someone with some understanding, often not that complex, of conservatism who either does not have great command of facts, or is not as logical in thinking as needs be, or who frequently bases arguments on Scripture (which liberal elites often incorrectly see as not intellectual). In short, this kind of writer’s opinions do not seem as threatening to the views of media elites and their allies and gives the media outlet a chance simultaneously to claim it is promoting diversity in views and to provide an inferior foil to its preferred liberalism.

Syndicated columnists like Coulter wouldn’t be slotted as a house conservative because their subjects never touch on local matters, and thus local liberal elites and their issues would escape criticism. But local and state matters were my bailiwick and it did not go unnoticed. The editorial page coordinator of those days (now long gone from the area and newspaper business) on several occasions told me how a lot of powerful local figures were becoming upset by my columns. That’s natural, because I relentlessly criticized the absurdities of their statements and decisions, the lack of logic and fact in their choices and the inanity of their justifications, relying upon conservative principles which through passage of history and exercise of intellect have been shown to be the most valid way in which to understand how the world works.

Understand that the people and organizations I criticized were not used to treatment on such an effective scale, that the clout they and their allies exercised in the community was considerable, and that they and The Times if not ideologically with the editorial staff then commercially with its management shared the same bed. One scheduled day of my column, it didn’t run. After I made an inquiry, later in the week I got a curt one-sentence letter from The Times informing me it no longer would run my column. It never gave any other explanation for this, a courtesy at least it granted Coulter.

Since then, any conservative views by regular Times columnists have almost never addressed local politics (while several area ultra-liberal writers have chirped on for years often addressing local affairs). It’s almost an entirely different crew at The Times now, while fortunately I have found at Fax-Net an editor who really does believe in presenting diverse views. But perhaps now, with so much competition coming from so many sources such as this venue, when a columnist becomes too inconvenient for it at least The Times will conduct a show trial before casting her off, instead of committing a silent assassination.

No comments: