Op Ed Page: Hiding Information Denies Needed Perspective

April 14th, 2014 · 2 Comments · energy policy, journalism

By Arthur Alpert

Last time out, I wrote about a host of economic stories and topics the Albuquerque Journal bans from the newspaper, presumably because they contradict its political agenda.

I’d planned to continue, offering lots more news the Journal finds not fit to print, but I won’t. We interrupt that program to detour to the Op Ed page to show how the editors corrupt it, too.

As you know, most of the syndicated columnists the Journal runs alongside its editorials espouse oligarchy and imperial foreign policy, so you’d think management would try to even the playing field on the Op Ed page.

And you would be wrong.

The Op Ed page also carries a preponderance of conservative and radical right opinion. But that’s not my subject today. It is that beyond using both pages to plump for the haves, the editors also take pains to hide useful information from readers.

If the Journal carried a range of views, like the liberal Establishment N.Y. Times or the conservative Establishment Washington Post, we wouldn’t need much identification of authors or sponsors of opinions.

But that’s not the case.

So that when editors published the newspaper’s five millionth argument for laissez-faire economics Sunday, April 6, from Kenneth Brown, minus a crucial identification, it matters.

Up top the editors told us Mr. Brown is a “Consultant in Economics”. At the bottom of the his column, they wrote, ”Kenneth Brown is an economist who was senior executive with the Department of Commerce and the National Science Foundation.”

Nice credentials, both. But what the reader doesn’t know is he’s been research director and board member at the Rio Grande Foundation, a “free market think tank.”

That information would give the reader perspective.

Mind you, the editors could provide more by writing, for example, “Mr. Brown was research director for the Rio Grande Foundation, financed in part by the Koch brothers’ political network.”

But I shouldn’t ask the impossible.

Moving past the obfuscation of Mr. Brown’s secular religious beliefs, let’s consider what the editors neglected to mention when they published an Op Ed the next day headlined, “Pipeline can defeat Russian blackmail”.

Here they identified the author, David McElwee, Capt. USAF (Ret), as “N.M. Chair, Vets4Energy,” up top. There was nothing more on him or the organization.

Antennae tingling!

Sad to say, the Journal has trained me to routinely doubt its probity. Like Pavlov’s dogs (who learned a bell signaled food), I know that when the Journal publishes an organization I don’t recognize, it will turn out to be a front for big money.

Vets4Energy is a front for the American Petroleum Institute.

The Journal could have so informed readers in five or six words but chose not to.

I have since tried to imagine how this might happen. Laziness? Ignorance? Those are comparatively innocent explanations I’d like to accept. Sadly, though, neither accounts for the Journal’s pattern – when it publishes plutocratic organizations they’re masked while groups representing the middle and working classes and the poor get accurate, revealing tags.

I understand, of course, why the oil industry would want to hide behind a vet. Unlike humans, corporations have no shame; it’s permissible to use admirable, innocent patriots.

But for a newspaper to collaborate with, aid and abet the oil industry’s puppetry is beyond my ken.

If there is an explanation, it’s not journalistic.

Tags: ·····

2 Comments so far ↓

Leave a Comment