By Arthur Alpert
Maybe it’s because I’m still doing my bit in that holiday fable, “White Christmas” at ALT, or maybe it’s the season. But I continue to feel kindly toward my fellow humans – including the top editors at the Albuquerque Journal.
What a hard road they travel daily!
Most newspaper editors look at what’s transpired since the last editorial meeting and ask, “What’s most important? What affects most of our readers? What’s really new?”
The answers determine what they publish.
But, on the evidence I’ve garnered from reading the Journal closely for more than a year, Journal editors also ask, ”How do I promote the Republican Party today?”
Not how do I push an ideological position, but how do I promote the GOP.
I sympathize because that’s not always easy and can sometimes require extraordinary efforts. Like right now, when the GOP leadership has decided to make a deal with President Obama to balloon the deficit.
Note, please, that not all Republicans agree; there’s been opposition from the Tea Party wing.
Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina and a Tea Party hero, was first to condemn the tax compromise. He even threatened to filibuster it.
Sarah Palin then tweeted something that was hard to decipher but seemed critical of the GOP establishment’s policy.
And guess what? The Albuquerque Journal hasn’t published a word about DeMint or Palin or any other reluctant Republican.
The paper ran AP stories last Thursday (A3), Friday (A5), Saturday (A3) and today, Monday, Dec. 13 (cover). All four explored the Democrats’ internal fight. None included a word on Republican disagreements.
(The second AP piece also scanted the Democratic opposition in the House and carried a misleading headline. But why nitpick?)
This must be stunning for Tea Party fans of our morning newspaper, for (as my colleagues have documented here) the Journal been very kind to their cause. And, as we have also documented, the Journal is a pulpit for preachers of the laissez-faire religion that’s so popular in Tea Party circles.
Now, suddenly, the Journal cannot hear DeMint and Palin!
Again, I can only sympathize with the editors.
In promoting the GOP via news decisions, they’ve managed to buoy both the Establishment and the Tea Party rebels. Now that the rubber is meeting the road, what were they to do?
Judging from the non-coverage, they chose to look away.
This shutting of the eyes to Republican discord nationally meshes seamlessly of course, with the paper’s longstanding aversion to reporting on what happens inside the state GOP.
(You know Pete Domenici stomped on his party’s religious rightists to promote Heather Wilson’s candidacy for Congress? You’re aware that he and Ms. Wilson represent the party’s left wing? Then you’re a Republican insider or perhaps you follow Joe Monahan’s informative blog; the Journal whitewashes that kind of dirt.)
But the GOP-Obama deal presents those poor Journal editors with a second, even tougher challenge.
Think of it as the Journal’s Stalinist dilemma. Years ago, you see, the Soviet leader did unto Western communists what the GOP commissars have just pulled – a new party line diametrically opposed to the old.
With this switcheroo, watch the Journal toe the line.
After all, the daily has dedicated itself for months now to persuading us of three propositions. The deficit is scary beyond belief. It’s the nation’s top economic problem. We must cut spending. (Dubious propositions all, if you read less partisan sources.)
Now Republican leaders have agreed to swell the very deficit they previously described as the Apocalypse! (In return, they get lower income and estate taxes on the rich.)
OMG! What’s a poor, partisan editor to do?
Emulate Gilda Radner? (“Never mind.”)
Argue that GOP deficits (unlike the other kind) are good for you?
It’s my guess that Journal management will tread what passes for the honorable path at their establishment – pretending that nobody switched signals.
Ignoring the Tea Party dissent is a good start down that road.