Calling for the Bludgeons: Union-bashing Corporate Lobbyist Finds Easy Access to Journal OpEd Page

December 6th, 2012 · 1 Comment · journalism, labor

By Arthur Alpert

How wrong can I be? I figured my post on the Hostess bankruptcy (Nov. 27) would be a one-shot, but that underestimated the story’s shelf life. Also, I failed to realize how ardently the Albuquerque Journal would use Hostess to promote its political agenda.

Therefore, here’s an update on Twinkies and journalistic malfeasance.

As you may remember, our daily’s management – not its rank-and-file – decided to blame the Hostess company’s demise on organized labor.

That wasn’t hard; the editors needed only to treat management’s version of events as gospel, omit other perspectives and Hostess’ (troubled) history and – oh, yes – hew to the Journal’s editorial line.

I pointed out, too, how the Wall Street Journal, among others, told a very different story. That, I suggested, is what happens when there’s a wall between the news and editorial functions.

Talking about the WSJ wall, consider that a regular Wall Street Journal editorial-side columnist, Holman W. Jenkins Jr., lambasted unnamed journalists Nov. 27 for failing to sympathize with Hostess management.

Yes, he was putting down his own newspaper’s reporters. Can you imagine that happening at the Albuquerque Journal?

But let’s move on. After the Journal’s misuse of the Hostess “news story,” I learned that the partisan, pseudo-news network, FOX, did the same. (Thanks, Jon Stewart)

The Journal and FOX together. Hmmm.

Subsequently, the Journal published a George Will essay (Sunday, Nov. 25) that took the same tack.

As is his wont, Will extolled the “market” while ignoring market factors that don’t fit his “libertarianism;” I’m thinking of financial shenanigans (e.g., leveraged buyouts) that sometimes kill viable businesses while rewarding financiers.

So sad. I remember when Will was a conservative.

But rather than mourn George Will’s decline, let’s return to journalistic malpractice. Specifically, let’s note how Will’s opinion piece dovetailed nicely with the Journal’s one-sided “news” account and its countless editorial assaults on unions.

Meanwhile, somebody in the Journal hierarchy must have deemed tasing the unions insufficient and called for the bludgeons.

Because, voila!, an essay headlined “Union Leaders Often have Priorities Wrong” graced the true Op Ed page Saturday, Dec. 1.

The author was one Rick Berman, identified in the Journal as executive director of an entity called the Center for Union Facts. That’s it. No other identification.

Unsurprisingly, Berman blamed the Hostess liquidation on the bakers union, and called for stripping power from organized labor.

Ignorant of him and the Center for Union Facts, I searched the Web. It’s with great pleasure that I can report the Journal has outdone itself. Yes, it’s found and published still another front for corporate power.

Back in 2007, Morley Safer of 60  Minutes said:

“Berman’s the booze and food industry’s 6’4″, 64-year-old weapon of mass destruction.”

I also learned that he’s known in some circles as “Dr. Evil,” perhaps because he’s created organizations to resist MADD’s efforts to end drunk driving (the American Beverage Institute), to oppose the American with Disabilities Act and the minimum wage and…ah, you get it.

His corporate backers are shy, and he protects their identities, but they have included Phillip Morris; did I mention he’s fought to protect the Big Tobacco nobility?

And he was involved in a House ethics probe of Newt Gingrich.

I think I understand the Journal’s reluctance to identify him.

Summing up, then, management at the National Review misreported the Hostess story to give it anti-union twist, then published George Will’s learned riff on the same theme and, finally, still another anti-union screed from a Washington lobbyist financed by anonymous corporations to weaken unions, among other public-spirited causes.

Ooops! Look at that last paragraph. I wrote, “National Review”.

Wrong again. Sorry. Please forgive me. I meant Albuquerque Journal, of course. The National Review is an organ of rightist political opinion, not a newspaper.

I cannot image how I confused the two.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Cheryl Everett

    JFK once said: “Except that the Lord keepeth the City, the watchman waketh but in vain.” I disagree. Thank you, Arthur, for being our watchman. I have to believe it’s not in vain.

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