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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Newspaper's Brand Of Politics - Partisan

Last Sunday’s Janesville Gazette contained an editorial whose title, “Politics often don’t matter to Gazette Editorial Board” seemed like an inadequate answer to a common question.

Written by the the newspaper’s editor, his perspective begins with the question.
JG Excerpt:
How does the Gazette decide what to support on it’s Opinion page or what candidates to endorse at election time?
More likely, this question is a question of “why” than “how,” but the key to remember was in the title, “politics often don’t matter.”

Politics of course is not a matter of Righties and Lefties, Republicans or Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals. And the existence of politics is not the problem facing America. There are classroom politics between students, office politics between workers and partisan politics played between partisans. Politics is played by nearly everyone including children in some way, shape and form everyday and nearly every hour to get what we want. When mixed with the media, politics can morph into an insidious character we call propaganda, to attain specific goals and steer a targeted base.

Politics is the art or science practiced when politicians engage and dis-engage – it can default simply to a behavior. Politics is a stone's throw away from diplomacy. When politics is lacking in a democratic government – we have grid-lock.

Which brings me back to our favorite newspaper - the Gazette. Nearly every editorial, including those the Gazette borrows from other newspapers, have some form of politics at the core driving the intentions, decisions, direction and solutions. Even the issue mentioned in this editorial, in favor of approving fee’s at Rotary Gardens is driven by a political ideology spun-off of the pro-privatization sideshow largely promoted by so-called Conservatives and corporate Republicans.

Take Friday’s edition for another example. The Gazette posts a photo of a back lit Barack Obama creating an aura or halo around him. No big deal, the photo is actually pretty cool. But turn to the Opinion page inside, and the paper drives their point home with a cartoon showing Obama standing on a auditorium stage, arms spread wide with the background message “The second coming.” Mind you, I’m not complaining and the paper certainly reserves this right – but is there a message we’re supposed to get here? I think so. In yesterday’s Gazette, syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, a lifelong Clinton stalker, carries on with the same deceptively false theme when referring to Obama as “the one.”

These are in actuality minor abuses from a newspaper that claims, “politics often don’t matter.” But it’s enough to prove that the brand they’re playing is partisan. Probably the best barometer to tell what kind of partisan (party) politics a newspaper is channeling is best described by their endorsements.

This is a newspaper that ran articles against union workers running for local non-partisan office, but thinks citizens prepped by the politically active local chamber of commerce running for the same is perfectly fine. This is a newspaper who endorsed Bush twice, Mark Green for Governor and House Representative Paul Ryan - forever. They refused to endorse Judy Robson because she’s too liberal and Tammy Baldwin? Forget it, they endorsed Dave Magnum. They stayed out of the Ziegler/Clifford State Supreme Court Justice race, but editorialized about the dire consequences if Clifford were to be elected. They issued a phony endorsement for Louis Butler in an editorial that actually offered reasons why you might want to vote for Gableman. They chose WMC sponsored J.B. Van Hollen over Kathleen Falk. They also promote and endorse state GOP regulars like Debi Towns, Brett Davis, Steve Nass and Neal Kedzie without even blinking. In the last two election cycles, the Janesville Gazette chose Republicans for every state legislative office except one. Democrat Mike Sheridan.

That lone exception, and I do mean exception was clearly an endorsement for his ability to serve in a double-duty capacity with GM than his democratic principles and legislative workmanship. Things have changed now, Sheridan has cut his ties from the UAW leadership role and is a fully dedicated state legislator - and a good one. Will the Gazette endorse him next time around? My first thought is - I hope not.

Mind you, this is a bird's eye view and barely a snapshot of the brand of politics that matter most to the Janesville Gazette. I'm not saying they're right or wrong, I'm just doing my part contributing to the dialogue.

Note: Editorial not available on Web

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Anonymous said...

Being new to Janesville, I'd never would have known. Thanks for the history.

Anonymous said...

Check your facts. You wrote, 'In the last two election cycles, the Janesville Gazette chose Republicans for every state legislative office except one.' Check the 32nd Assembly District. I believe you will find they did not endorse the Republican in that race, thus disproving your statement. In addition, they at one time endorsed the now disgraced Democrat, Ryan Schroeder, for that seat against the Republican.

Lou Kaye said...

It would be nice if you provided links to your endorsement "facts."

But I'm inclined to accept that correction. Thanks.

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