Back in the good old days when snagging a journalism job wasn’t so much of a problem, one of the questions that always gave me pause at family reunions and cocktail parties was, “Is your newspaper a liberal paper or a conservative paper?”
See, I never paid much attention to those distinctions because I was a news editor, far removed from the opinion side of the business. Frankly, liberal or conservative didn’t matter much to me then. Why? Newspapers — real newspapers — know where to draw the line. Liberal newspaper (New York Times, Washington Post) or conservative newspaper (Wall Street Journal), I trust the news coverage.
Non-journalists (“civilians” as one ex-colleague called them the other day) don’t really understand newspaper people. I knew thousands of journalists over a career that spanned three decades, and I never talked to anyone who admitted to taking a job solely because of a newspaper’s liberal or conservative leaning. Real journalists are typically more concerned with mundane matters like, “How much are these assholes going to pay me?” or “Is Poughkeepsie really someplace I want to live?”
Most civilians have heard rumors about the hard line between news and opinion that exists at most traditional newspapers, but I don’t think many believe it. Well, folks, it exists. I know because I lived it.
In my career, my job was to be unbiased. If I ran a story about a Republican candidate, I’d run one of similar length about his Democratic foe. In three decades of news meetings, I never once heard the boss intone, “We need to skewer that conservative because the last poll showed him ahead!” It just never happened.
Liberal or conservative? Democrat or Republican? Back then I really couldn’t give a crap.
That doesn’t mean journalists can’t have opinions when they walk out the door. Did I vote during those 30+ years I was a journalist? You bet I did, but I never talked about who I was voting for; never contributed one dollar to a campaign; never put a bumper sticker on my car; and sure as hell never let my personal preferences influence news decisions.
Like a doctor who tells his patients to quit smoking, then goes home and burns through three packs of unfiltered Camels, a journalist is also capable of separating his professional life from his private life. Once journalists sit behind a desk and put on that green eyeshade, they know what “unbiased” means. It is a point of pride.
(Disclaimer: that part about green eyeshades is bunk — I never saw anybody actually wearing one.)
Truth is, no journalist worth his salt would ever be unhappy to take down a crooked Democrat or a crooked Republican. Journalists are equal opportunity destroyers, and when it comes to taking down a crook, political affiliation makes no difference.
Generally speaking, journalists on the news side don’t like politicians, not any of ‘em. Back in the day, my only preference was that politicians have short names, the easier to fit into a one-column headline once they’d been caught taking bribes.
If it seems that Republicans are getting more bad mentions these days, well, maybe it’s because they really are more crooked, more deranged, more skeevy than the other side. But rest assured, good journalists are on the lookout for when that situation changes.
By now you’re probably asking, “But if The Shinbone Star is really staffed by trained ex-journalists, why is your copy so liberally salted with expressions like Psycho Don, Delusional Donnie, Orange Menace and Bloviating Blowhard? Isn’t the use of such expletives a sure sign of your bias against Donald Trump?”
YES! YES! OF COURSE IT IS!
But here’s the key: We are retired and The Shinbone Star isn’t real journalism! We never claimed that it was! Our staff members have walked out the door at our respective publications and no longer have to mince words. If hating Trump is biased, then hell yes, we’re biased, but the best thing about hating Trump is that our so-called bias is rooted in fact. Hell, we don’t have to tell lies about Trump, all we have to do is expose the ones that he tells!
Want some truth? The future president really said this about Mexicans:
“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
That’s just one example — one of the first ones — and it’s why we here at The Shinbone Star don’t shy away from calling Trump a racist. He’s not an alleged racist, he is in fact a racist, and that same foundation of truth applies to other descriptors like “psycho,” “delusional,” “menace” and “blowhard.” Each insult is legitimized repeatedly by the president’s own words and deeds.
All this should have been clear to every reader who bothered to check out our mission statement, but realistically, that was written almost 900 posts ago, and even though it’s linked to the left of every article we print, I guess we shouldn’t have expected every reader to find it.
So once again and for the record, The Shinbone Star is opinion driven. It is staffed by retired journalists (with just a couple of exceptions). One thing, however, hasn’t changed from our professional lives: We do not publish lies here — our opposition to Trump is rooted in facts!
We’ve built a nice little audience here at The Shinbone Star and we’re happy that you’re with us. Our staff enjoys the liberating experience of writing what we want, when we want. We like it so much that we do it for free, which is only marginally less that when we wrote for pay.
Finally, with a tip of the cap to new Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), there’s one more thing about The Shinbone Star that’s no different from any other newsroom in the country: We’re gonna celebrate when this “mother****er” goes down!