May 14, 2005

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has been sold! Is there hope that its new owners might be a little more balanced and fair-minded in their approach to the news and advocacy? Uh, not yet:

When Lee Enterprises Inc. agreed to purchase Pulitzer Inc. for $1.46 billion, it also agreed that the flagship St. Louis Post-Dispatch will keep its longstanding liberal editorial slant for at least the next five years, according to the purchase agreement mailed to Pulitzer shareholders Friday.

Now, that's Editor and Publisher calling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a liberal paper, for all you "What Liberal Media?" folks. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has earned it's moniker, "the most reliably liberal paper in the United States."

"For a period of at least five years following the Effective Time, Parent (Lee Enterprises) will cause the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to maintain its current name and editorial page platform statement and to maintain its news and editorial headquarters in the City of St. Louis, Missouri," the agreement states.

This is more than a little strange. I wonder if someone is actually worried that a St. Louis paper is going to be produced in Iowa? Or are they afraid that the paper might actually leave the city proper and move to the suburbs with the rest of its readers, especially since the city's police no longer have to live within the city. But what about that platform statement?

The Post-Dispatch platform statement, adopted in 1911, includes the pledge that the newspaper "will always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty."

But how is Ellen Soeteber and her reactionary gang supposed to abjure the toleration of injustice, fight demagogues of all parties, and never belong to any party for another five years when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gave up all pretense of objectivity years ago? And lest you think I am exaggerating:

Over the years, the paper's editorials have taken a reliably Democratic or liberal view of issues, positions some worried would change under Lee's ownership.

Journalists writing about journalists and they still resort to the weaselly "some" instead of naming names. And of course, we all know that change is bad, especially when change means something other than toeing the ever progressing progressive line. But, for now, Ellen can keep writing interminably about the WAR ON THE WORKING POOR -- MISSOURI'S SHAME, always finding another pitiful anecdote every time Missouri's state government doesn't agree to raise taxes to support an insatiable progressive appetite. Why the state of Missouri found itself with a huge deficit, which had to be addessed under state law, inherited from the last two Democratic governors is never touched upon. No doubt, because their hearts were pure, because the editors won't speak ill of the dead, or negatively about anyone named Carnahan -- or all three.

Last week, an installment of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial page's WAR ON THE WORKING POOR -- MISSOURI'S SHAME series published pictures of the homes of Republican leaders in the state, noting, amongst others, that the Governor's home was worth $250,000 -- a veritable mansion I tells ya! Ellen's minions claimed that these morally bankrupt politicians should not get health insurance from the state while depriving some by reducing the state Medicare rolls since, I kid you not, these politicians already had plenty of money. Gosh, doesn't publishing addesses and pictures of people's homes read like incitement to violence when someone does something similar with, say, abortion providers?

But speaking of the immmorally wealthy, gosh, I wonder how Ellen feels about her soon to be ex-boss:

Pulitzer President and CEO Robert C. Woodworth will be "terminated," the proxy materials say, though he may also be retained as a consultant. Pulitzer said Woodworth will be paid $8,804,132 in severance payment.

Say, I wonder how big Ellen's home is. Would it be wrong for me to post a picture of it here? Maybe I'll move into it in, um, five years, unless she can read the writing on the wall:

The agreement, included in proxy materials mailed to shareholders for a special June 3 meeting to approve the purchase by Lee, also provides that Pulitzer will have a say in the appointment of an new editor if Post-Dispatch Editor Ellen Soeteber "is replaced within five years following the Effective Time, whether by reason of her resignation or removal or for any other reason."

In which case, my moving plans may have to be accelerated. Oh well, there's always Err America for Ellen to MoveOn to.

For what its worth, four years ago, Missouri had a Democratic governor, a Democratic majority in the state's House and one US Senator who was a Democrat. Missouri now has a Republican governor, Republican majorities in the state's House and Senate, and two Republican US Senators -- keep up the good work Ellen! Maybe this is why the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial page has gone into full tilt batshit loony screeching mode since the last election.

P.S. I've checked the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website and there isn't any mention of this yet. That's weird, I thought progressives loved five year plans.

Posted by Charles Austin at May 14, 2005 09:43 AM

Christine Burtelson is the editorial page editor, not Ellen. Not that I'm suggesting there's any link, but Christine's father Arther was a columnist for the paper before she was, and Christine was dating Cole Campbell, the editor in chief, when she was appointed the editorial page editor.

Posted by: Kevin Murphy at 12:37 PM