Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

May 10, 2004

by V

Maybe people just aren't happy...

In a bizarre move, a Wisconsin paper is asking their readers to put their thumbs on the scale of their op-ed page to make it look like we're still a 50-50 Nation:

Post-Crescent Editorial: We need more letters to achieve a balance
Letters to the editor, a staple of The Post-Crescent's Views pages, are a way to take the political and social temperature of the Valley. A well-written letter allows readers to ponder different points of view, perhaps made more poignant because the author is someone you might know. At best, they should offer a full spectrum of beliefs and topics.

Recently, though, as the race for president heats up, we've been dealing with this quandary: How can we balance the perspectives and topics of our letters when many of our submissions have been coming only from one side?

We've been getting more letters critical of President Bush than those that support him. We're not sure why, nor do we want to guess. But in today's increasingly polarized political environment, we would prefer our offering to put forward a better sense of balance.

Since we depend upon you, our readers, to supply our letters, that goal can be difficult. We can't run letters that we don't have.

Finally, a myth to dispel: We don't give our letters any sort of political litmus test to determine if they make it into print. If that were so, we wouldn't run letters that take swings at who we are and what we print.

If you would like to help us "balance" things out, send us a letter, make a call or punch out an e-mail. Read the handy box at the bottom of the page for more information. We'd love to hear from you.
Let's see, if you acknowledge that the Views page is "a way to take the political and social temperature" of your readership, what on Earth would lead you to try and skew it?

And you won't venture any guesses as to why people aren't defending an increasingly unpopular President? Let's see, if we apply the Right-Wing Razor, it must be because ... Liberals are intimidating their America-Loving neighbors into not writing letters! Yes, that's surely it.

It couldn't be that he's, you know, doing a very very bad job and people are tiring of his mindless happy-talk attempting to cover over pathetic results. Yeesh.

Let's just imagine a newspaper pleading for more Democrat-friendly balance in its letters pages, then imagine the howls of derisive laughter from the Conservative Media and the fame that the newspaper would garner as, say, a "pathetic poster child for the weak-kneed Left".

Wisconsin Post-Crescent, you're lucky that 1) you're as obscure as you are, and that 2) the "Liberal" Media really isn't. You deserve notoriety for this that you won't achieve.
Posted by V at May 10, 2004 12:55 PM
Comments

A May 4 editorial in The Post-Crescent noted that in this presidential election season, with polarizing partisan politics at full speed, it was curious that our letters were mostly one-sided.

We were partially motivated by some readers in the Valley, who thought we were intentionally printing letters from only one side of the aisle.

Unfortunately, we werenít clear enough in our intent. Many readers perceived our plea in the editorial for greater reader participation as an unabashed solicitation for people to weigh in on the side of the incumbent president. We should have done a better job stating our case.

But by invoking the name of a candidate, we came off as trying to beat the drum for him.

Hindsight being 20-20, we can now see how it was taken in that vein, even though our editorial track record has been critical of the administrationís execution of the war in Iraq; the historically high federal budget deficit; the Medicare prescription drug plan and a proposed constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage, to name a few.

So, hereís another swing at the plate: If you donít agree with the letters we print, pick up a pencil or punch a keyboard and write a letter with a differing viewpoint.

Weíre not holding back pro-Bush letters and only running pro-Kerry letters or vice versa. We never have.

Keep the cards and letters coming.

Posted by: Tom Jones at May 12, 2004 12:29 PM

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