Monday, May 22, 2006

Anders doesn't care

Katie had a column in the paper yesterday and today. What stamina. Spot has observations on both of them, boys and girls, but first he wants to talk about this article in Minnesota Monthly. Titled Rewrite Man, it is about Anders Gyllenhaal, the latest top editor at the Star Tribune, brought aboard four years ago. It’s generally a puff piece about mild-mannered Anders who can be tough when he needs to be! Hard-scrabble youth, worked his way up, the whole works.

A lot of the story is how Horatio, Spot means Anders, undertook to turn the Strib into the painted lady it is today. One of the things Anders wanted to do was get a “reliably conservative” voice as a columnist. And immediately, or maybe eventually, he thought of Katie – Katherine Kersten. Anders wanted to hire someone for his or her “story-telling ability.” Hysterical laughter. Sorry. Anyway, quoting from the article:
Gyllenhaal eventually found [conservative] reliability in spades: Katherine Kersten. The lawyer/activist/polemicist was a senior fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, a Twin Cities conservative think tank, and she had been a Strib op-ed columnist for eight years—until she and two other (nonconservative) writers were dumped in an op-ed housecleaning in 2003.

Kersten’s column-writing tenure, provocative stances, longtime activism on behalf of conservative causes, and myriad contacts on the right gave Gyllenhaal confidence that she could do the job. She recalls that Gyllenhaal emphasized “storytelling rather than just public-policy analysis” in discussions about the position.

Was this a wise choice, boys and girls?
Many in the newsroom felt journalistic integrity didn’t fare so well—not because of Kersten’s viewpoints, they insist, but because she lacks independence. Most reporters I talked to said they wished that the Strib had diversified earlier, but they fault Gyllenhaal for hiring an activist with no reporting experience, without enough skepticism for the facts on both sides of an argument.

Grow and Coleman, despite their lefty proclivities, love tweaking DFL pols, but Kersten has yet to acknowledge any deficits in the Republican Party or the positions of the political right. Problem? Let the rookie journalist be, Gyllenhaal responds: “She’s still starting out. Let’s see what else she has to say.”

Gyllenhaal sweeps aside reader objections to Kersten’s logic, sourcing, and factual completeness as its own selective reality. “She’s probably getting more reaction than the dozen columnists across the whole paper,” Gyllenhaal says. “She definitely has an edge to her. She’s introducing ideas and opinions and perspectives that the paper hasn’t had. Those all add up to an important new element in the paper.” [italics are Spot’s]

Well first of all Anders, Katie says the same things over and over. There’s the Catholic schools are superior column, the country is going to hell in a hand basket because column, the Sixties was the worst thing that ever happened to the US column, the 9/11 be very afraid column, the we must stay in Iraq until everyone’s fingers are all purple column, and that’s about it. Oh, Spot forgot the gays are evil column. How could he forget that! We don’t really read Katie with bated breath to see what she might say new. And training wheels for columnists, what a concept!

And Anders, it seems that both other Strib staffers and readers think Katie is one of those reality creators that we hear so much about in Republican circles these days. A news section is just the place for that! Gyllenhaal sweeps the concerns aside, creating his own New Newspaper Reality.

Meanwhile, our Lois Lane of the Cornfields couldn’t read a coherent story to grade schoolers, much less write one. The people that Katie interviews – and Spot uses the word interviews with some trepidation – are props or straw men for the point Katie wants to make. Spot will illustrate that later when he discusses Katie’s most recent columns.

The problem is not, Anders, that Katie is conservative. Katie is a great specimen, exemplar, avatar, representative, model, and archetype of a conservative. The problem is that you gave her the honored position of news columnist when she should be on the op-ed page with your other two Stygian witches, Mona Charen and Debra J. Saunders. They all use the same conservative eye and pass the same thoughts among them anyway.

Well, that's enough for now. Spot will take up the recent columns in his next post.

Tag: is reliably conservative

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