Yes, I was a bit surprised. This morning, when I opened the Wheeling Intelligencer's editorial page, I saw what looked like George Will’s syndicated column that I had written about on Tuesday. (See two posts down.) In that blog post, I noted how Will had harsh words for President Trump but reserved his sharpest criticism for Republican senators who passively go along with the president on just about everything. I read Will regularly and while I frequently disagree with his thesis, his columns do suggest thoughtfulness and a sense of history. Will also knows how to turn a phrase. On Tuesday, I agreed with Will; I especially liked a metaphor he used about Republican senators and decided to use it as an insert at the top of my post:
After I finished rereading Will’s column in the Intelligencer, I asked “what happened to the canine?” That the lapping dog was missing from the article did not surprise me – with over six years’ experience of closely reading our local Ogden papers, I’ve seen numerous examples of local editing to further Ogden’s biases. Obviously, I needed to compare the Intelligencer version to Will’s original column. (Will is syndicated by the Washington Post.) I found three noteworthy Intelligencer edits that I think significantly lessen the overall impact of Will’s column. (Note – the bold type is what Intelligencer dropped in its version of the column.)
First, the “canine hunger”:
Voters must dispatch his congressional enablers, especially the senators who still gambol around his ankles with a canine hunger for petting.
(The Intelligencer paragraph ends at “enablers.”)
In life’s unforgiving arithmetic, we are the sum of our choices. Congressional Republicans have made theirs for more than 1,200 days. We cannot know all the measures necessary to restore the nation’s domestic health and international standing, but we know the first step: Senate Republicans must be routed, as condign punishment for their Vichyite collaboration, leaving the Republican remnant to wonder: Was it sensible to sacrifice dignity, such as it ever was, and to shed principles, if convictions so easily jettisoned could be dignified as principles, for . . . what? Praying people should pray, and all others should hope: May I never crave anything as much as these people crave membership in the world’s most risible deliberative body.
And note how Will’s original column does not end with “rock bottom” as the Intelligencer’s does:
Those who think our unhinged president’s recent mania about a murder two decades ago that never happened represents his moral nadir have missed the lesson of his life: There is no such thing as rock bottom. So, assume that the worst is yet to come. Which implicates national security: Abroad, anti-Americanism sleeps lightly when it sleeps at all, and it is wide-awake as decent people judge our nation’s health by the character of those to whom power is entrusted. Watching, too, are indecent people in Beijing and Moscow.
I try to call attention in my posts to when the Intelligencer drops the last quarter, half, or three quarters of an AP article. While they often remove important or balancing information, my hunch is that they would offer “we only have so much room” as a defense. That defense does not work here; these edits are throughout the column and are clearly designed to lessen the impact of Will’s argument.
For me (and this column is testimony), the Intelligencer does not care about providing different points of view; in this case, they care only about giving the appearance that they do. (Hey, aren’t we due for another one of those “look how fair and balanced we are” editorials?) If they cared about their journalistic integrity, they would have printed Will’s original column not a watered-down, semi-toothless version of it. For me, it's just another reason why I call them a "newspaper."