Monday, December 31, 2007

E-N disses Aggies, eviscerates Op-Ed section

I came back from my Christmas vacation to find that the Express-News was hyping a nonstory on its front page meant to embarrass and humiliate the Aggies. How else can you explain this kind of piss-poor news judgment by the editors other than that it was intended to be a shot at Texas A&M?
The fact that an Aggie Yell Leader said something inappropriate at a midnight pep rally should hardly merit an inside story in the sports section, but the E-N chose to put the story on the front page - the above-the-fold, lead story for the day. There is no excuse for this kind of nonsense.
My co-workers tell me there is no question that the E-N is biased in favor of the University of Texas and point to the numerous times when UT ballplayers have been arrested and caught with drugs only to have the story buried inside the sports section if it is published at all. I don’t pay attention to that sort of stuff well enough to know if the charge has any merit, but based on this latest example I now have to wonder.

But the Express-News folks apparently have bigger problems to deal with lately than the wrath of a few die-hard Aggies. Lately they have chosen to eviscerate the Sunday Opinion section. Beginning next week, the Views section of the paper on Sunday will be pared back to just three pages and tacked on to the end of the Metro Section. That means no more Random Notes which I had recently griped about, and no more canned editorial features which I had also griped about recently. And I should also mention belatedly that we no longer have Rebeca Chapa to kick around anymore. As much as I was disappointed with Chapa’s recent editorial contributions, she was one of the only outspoken liberals on the E-N editorial page, not counting the shrill, one-note ranting of Mansour El-Kikhia. While I don’t mind having El-Kikhia express his views once a week in the paper, I do have to object when he becomes the sole voice representing my side of the debate on every issue.
Canning Chapa is just the latest poor decision by the editorial overlords at the E-N, right up there with the decision earlier this year to fire the talented Leo Garza in favor of the insomnia-curing blandness that is John Branch.

But Bruce Davidson assures us in an editorial note that “the commentary department will continue to provide varied opinions from local and national columnists...”
Is that so? One of the only “liberal” syndicated columnists in the E-N is New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, and while it is true that she tends to be politically liberal, she also has it out for Hillary Clinton and spends most of her column inches these days in a concerted effort to bash Hillary at every turn. Meanwhile, the wingnut side of the E-N which was already loaded up with George Will, Cal Thomas, Rich Lowry and Kathleen Parker, has now been beefed up with a new addition - Jonah Goldberg whose latest book is called “Liberal Facism.” It’s as if they decided that having one right-wing neo-con with the initials JG wasn’t enough. Of course, I’m talking about Jonathan Gurwitz, who along with Ken Allard and T.R. Fehrenbach, sets the right-wing tone of the whole editorial section.
Anyway, it looks like I will have plenty more things to grouse about in regards to my local paper during the new year.

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