Last month I resubscribed to the Raleigh News and Observer after nearly three years of protest. Though I still consider the editorial pages the weakest link in their value chain, Zabouti helped me understand that having a subscription was part of my civic duty. Today, as a full-price paying customer, I recognize I have another duty as well - to call out the good, the bad and the ugly when I see it. This weekend's editorial pages offer an excellent case in point.
It goes almost without saying that there are many smart people here in North Carolina, what with the Triangle being home to four major universities and all. And on Sunday, the N&O wisely tapped into the talents and knowledge of David Schanzer, the director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill. Schanzer offered a sharp critique of Shotgun Cheney's misguided criticism of Obama policies.
Putting aside the unseemliness of a former vice president lashing out against his successors so soon after leaving office, Cheney's critique is deeply flawed on the merits.
First, the factors increasing risk to the American people have little to do with the Obama administration's alterations to detainee and interrogation policy and much to do with the security dangers resulting from past policy failures. With North Korea testing a long-range missile, Iran pursuing its nuclear ambitions and Afghanistan/Pakistan experiencing unprecedented instability, how we deal with the 240 remaining Guantanamo detainees is the least of our worries.
But for every step forward, the N&O manages to slide back a few as well. That's exactly what it did earlier in the weekend, when the paper featured one of the experts at the Art Pope Show. In this case, it was Jay Schalin. Read all about him.
Unfortunately, Schalin's column isn't yet online, so you'll have to take my word that the software-engineer-turned-pundit has nothing of interest to say. In keeping with the practices of the Pope Center for Higher Education [sic], he takes aim at UNC classes that teach students about the effects of sex discrimination and pornography, laughing those topics off in favor of ... you guessed it, training more physical therapists. Pure genius.
Like the booking agency they aspire to, the Show has been famously described by the N&O's ex-ombudsman as a multi-million dollar opinion manufacturing machine. Fueled in its radical agenda by Pope family money, the Show cranks out reports like clockwork. And for some reason, the N&O continues to pick up their propaganda.
No commentary about the N&O would be complete without acknowledging the continuing presence Rick Martinez. As you may know, Martinez is a big cheese at WPTF-AM, the Triangle's very own source of anti-Americanism. He is also the bedfellow of one Donna Martinez. Why the newspaper can't find a more independent voice to represent the lunatic fringe is beyond me.
All in all, I suspect the Daniels family, once proud owners of the Raleigh News and Observer, would be embarrassed to see their paper catering to the likes of the Show. But Steve and Orage are lucky this year. I said I'd subscribe and I am. But I ain't happy about it.