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Newspapers and The Party Of Big Government

Saturday, February 28, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Powerline’s John Hinderaker has one of the more important blog posts of recent memory. It uses the editorials of the New York Times from 2003 forward to make the crucial points that the spending already sought and gained by President Obama as well as that he is reaching for in the outyears dwarfs all that President Bush presided over throughout his presidency. John hammers the hapless and failing Times for its lack of integrity or even memory, but the key is not the intellectual dishonesty of the paper, but the vast deficits and tax hikes being sought by the new president and a hard left Congress. Hinderaker’s piece is top quality opinion journalism built on careful attention to the facts of the tax and spending plans of the new president and his Congressional allies. It is the sort of reporting and analysis which ought to be in every newspaper in the country but which appears only in the Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper industry is indeed failing before our eyes, and a great deal of that failure has to be because of the widespread and justified alienation of news consumers who do not trust the legions of “journalists” working in MSM to be critical of the party of government. Yes, the move to the internet has crushed advertising, but this shift was preceded by decades of steady attrition of subscribers who simply grew disgusted with the bias of the papers’ staffs from top to bottom. I wonder what would be the fate of the struggling Los Angeles Times if it consciously adopted a conservative opinion voice and a posture of searching criticism towards Los Angeles (facing a billion dollar budget shortfall because of pension obligations) Sacramento and the Obama Administration. This would require significant restaffing because there are simply not many reporters and editors out there who are even aware of their deep biases much less great numbers of serious center-right professionals to replace the lefties, but I think center-right independents and conservatives across the California and perhaps the country would rally to such a project if it was begun. The D.C. Examiner and the Washington Times are both valuable contributors to the project of serious scrutiny of the Obama agenda, but an old media brand on the West Coast that took on the newly empowered D.C. elite while also bringing accountability to the massively dysfunctional state and local governments of the Golden State would find that the audience its agenda journalism drove away over decades is still there, waiting for an honest newspaper to serve the public interest.

The story on the L.A. deficit is from the Los Angeles Times, btw, and is appeared exactly four days before what is essentially an uncontested reelection for Mayor Villaraigosa. The Times has made no serious, sustained attempt to alert the public to this tidal wave of red ink headed towards the city. Neither did the paper present serious reporting on alternatives to the massive state tax hikes that will cripple the state’s economic recovery, nor is it reporting on the growing tax revolt that could well defeat even the massively funded ballot measures in May that will enable the party of government to sail through tough times without serious pain. Like most MSM, the Times is just a tame, kept newsletter for government-centric interest groups and the government itself. If new ownership turned it into a real newspaper with genuine hostility to the deeply entrenched power of California’s party of government, it could prosper again.

Newspapers don’t have to die. But suicide is the right term for continuing to try and package liberalism as news.

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