Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Personal Aside: The Trivia QuizPat Hickey Wins The Paper that Doesnt Know What it Is Doesnt Know What to Think
Congratulations to Pat Hickey who again wins the quiz with the answer Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (of El Paso, Illinois). Again, no search engine:
Someone asked me, as I came in, down on the street, how I felt and I was reminded of a story that a fellow townsman of ours used to tellAbraham Lincoln. They asked him how he felt once after an unsuccessful election. He said he felt like a little boy who stubbed his toe in the dark. He said he was too old to cry but it hurt too much to laugh.
Who said it and on what occasion?
The Chicago Tribune has been going through a self-examination since April 1, 1955 when the Colonel diedand to some, its time it has decided what it will be: a conservative paper with a generally conservative news format, based on the view that there is objective truth and wrong views deserve some expression but error has no rights. Or a liberal paper with a left-wing editorial policy and the general news reporting it already has, leaning just slightly to the left. Or continuation of the split personality it has nowa generally, just slightly, moderate-to-conservative editorial policy and continuation of news reporting shaded to the left. But what the Tribune doesnt understand is that an editorial should take a position. Few dobecause the Trib is so indecisive in just about everything which is why the paper cannot hire an editorial cartoonist. It rents out its cartoon presentations first to the left, then to the right.
That saves it from hiring a cartoonist of its own. A cartoonist is required to draw situations bluntly. That is not the Tribunes style. It is truly a newspaper that does not know what it isand having a cartoonist who will make decisions embarrasses the entire editorial board which is so often torn about decisions. The Sun-Times has Jack Higgins who doesnt wait to be told what the editorial policy is: he draws what he wants to draw. But that isnt the queasy, indecisive Tribunes style.
Take a look at recent editorials and even here you will rarely get a fully enunciated point of view. A lead editorial the other day pointed out that for more than a year a state law has mandated police to electronically record interviews with murder and sex-crime suspects. No one can say precisely, says the editorial, how well the new law works of how police departments will apply it. So what does the Tribune editorial conclude? Nothing. Maybe Illinois legislators should decide whether or not to broaden the taping requirements beyond homicide and sex-crimes to all felony investigations. Maybe they should. And what would that prove? The Tribune editorial doesnt say.
Another editorial asks whether or not it is detrimental for physicians to tell fat kids that they are obese? By telling them, does it ruin a kids inner view of himself or does it cause him to want to correct it? A doctors intervention may or may not help a child lose weight, says the editorial. Oh, I see. After re-reading it, one gets the slight impression the paper may favor the doctors telling the kid. But then there could be seriously consequences. On the other hand. Oh stop.
After the UN-ordered cease-fire, the paper goes into a lengthy pro and con as to what was accomplished, concluding: From here, it looks like everybody lose. Not a word about what should happen in the future or what went wrong in the past.
On one issue its firm: it is against pitt bulls. That was a tough one. Agonizing indecision and balancing of views to reach no conclusion at all is the worst thing an editorial can doand yet the Tribune, once proud, once confident enough to have opinions, has been so shaky for a generation that it cannot stomach taking positions. For that reason alone, notwithstanding all its other faults, it is a vapid, cowardly newspaper, saved only by the fact that John Kass who has opinions on issues the editorial page should cover and is unafraid to express them writes a column for it.