Jan Jarboe Russell, one of the last locally-based, politically-liberal columnists on the editorial pages of the San Antonio Express-News, ended her column Sunday.
Russell’s departure follows that of Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, who also quit to pursue other writing projects a while back, and the late Maury Maverick Jr., who died in 2003.
I assume Russell’s departure will bring an end to the weekly Crossfiresque feature every Wednesday where she would have a back-and-forth debate with right-wing columnist Jonathan Gurwitz.
That leaves an editorial page filled with hardline conservatives like the above mentioned Gurwitz, Austin Bay, T.R. Fehrenbach and J. Francis Gardner and a bunch of wishy-washy moderates who rarely touch on issues of a political nature. If you read these columnists you probably could not tell whether they voted for Bush or Kerry in the last election because they restrict their writing to mostly local and non-controversial issues.
The only local columnists who could fairly be described as liberals are probably Susan Ives, who I’ve never found to be terribly engaging, and Mansour El-Kikhia, who is continuously villified by local conservatives. El-Kikhia raises the hackles of the far-right because he is an American of Arabic descent who refuses to be cowed by the political mood following 9-11 and is highly critical of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. I’m sure if El-Kikhia’s last name was Smith or Jones he would not get near the attention that he does, but as it is the right-wing reacts to him as if he were a member of al-Qaeda.
But don’t expect Russell’s departure to generate any acknowledgement from the far-right that the Express-News is not the bastion of liberalism that they claim it to be. That will only happen if the paper turns over editorial control to the Republican National Committee.