The mainstream media readily bashed Andrew Breitbart for allegedly taking a video out of context yet consistently and unabashedly take things out of context when reporting conservative issues. The examples of mainstream media hypocrisy are long. Here’s the latest contribution from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to that list.
This past week, I sent to the Post-Dispatch, and other media in Missouri, an op-ed about Proposition C, the Health Care Freedom Act. Our organization strongly supports this legislation, which essentially asks voters to repudiate key provisions of the federal health care reform package.
After submitting the op-ed, members of our team made follow-up phone calls and emails to selected media, asking if they were interested in running my op-ed. Here is what Gilbert Bailon, editorial page editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, wrote back on Wednesday, July 21:
“We got it. Question is he shopping that op-ed to other newspapers? We usually avoid duplicating op-eds that run elsewhere in the state as much as possible.”
And on Friday, guess what? The Post-Dispatch ran the piece. OK, it actually ran only snippets of the piece in an editorial opposing Prop C and taking me to task (http://www.stltoday.com/article_481f6ca2-ebaf-5871-9181-0dc892da4276.html). It still hasn’t run the entire op-ed.
I don’t mind the criticism. I don’t agree with it, but I don’t even mind the editorial. What I mind is that the Post-Dispatch would, on the one hand, refuse to run the op-ed in its entirety because it might just appear in other state media, while on the other take parts of it arguably out of context, and use them in a negative editorial.
As one member of our team wrote to Bailon in a follow-up email on July 23: “In this instance, the Post has stifled debate, ridiculed its opponents without giving them a chance to be heard and abused the wonderful power of the press.”
In true, long-standing Post-Dispatch fashion (listen to this audio clip from 2004 when the Post complained about closing their corporate loophole) audio clip in his response, Bailon denied the obvious hypocrisy and claimed the Post-Dispatch had no obligation to print the op-ed they were disparaging and taking out of context since it had been posted in another newspaper.
He went on to say, “We run about four to five guest op-ed columns a week aside from the nationally syndicated folks and the three regular local columnists. That’s why we seek to avoid running columns that appear elsewhere in our readership area as much as possible (emphasis added). That’s what Metro newspapers do. We literally get dozens and dozens of submissions every week”. I’m pretty sure the folks in Springfield, where the op-ed ran last week, don’t consider themselves part of the “readership area” of the St. Louis Post Dispatch even if they are able to buy it for birdcage liner.
Our team found it curious, by the way, that Bailon said the Post usually avoids op-eds that could appear in other newspapers around the state. It seems highly unlikely that any group representing a statewide issue would send an op-ed to only one media outlet in the state. That defies common sense. It also had us wondering: How unusual is it for the Post-Dispatch to publish op-eds that appear in other state newspaper?
As it turns out, it’s not that unusual – for those representing liberal causes.
Since March of 2008, the Post-Dispatch has run three op-eds by Amy Blouin, executive director and founder of the liberal, big government Missouri Budget Project. All three of those op-eds appeared in other newspapers around the state. On Feb. 4, for example, the Post-Dispatch published an article by Blouin that was critical of efforts to get rid of the state’s income tax and replace it with a broader, slightly higher sales tax. On that same day, the op-ed appeared in the St. Louis American and the St. Louis Beacon. Three days later it was in the Kansas City Star and on Feb. 9, in the Springfield News-Leader.
In May of this year, the Post-Dispatch ran an op-ed by Lisa Gladson and Jack Strauss, economists at Saint Louis University, who criticized research that was critical of the effort to let voters decide on St. Louis’ and Kansas City’s 1 percent earnings tax. And yet, the same op-ed was published nearly five weeks earlier in the Kansas City Star.
The other important point is that Prop C hasn’t been getting a lot of debate in the state. There really aren’t organized groups pro or con on the issue. We have heard from some media that they’re trying to put together a pro and a con, and are holding our op-ed until they find a con. That’s great. I like the debate. I think an educated, informed public will create a better society. That’s what makes the sort of hypocritical one-sided position staked out by the Post-Dispatch so hard to take for me and other conservatives. Unfortunately, it seems all too typical in the mainstream media.
My question is this: When Bailon says the Post-Dispatch “usually avoids duplicating” op-eds run in other papers, is he only talking about op-eds representing a conservative view?