Reading the last (actual) Sunday Wheeling News-Register
The News-Register announced on its front page that, following in the footsteps of other Ogden newspapers, today will be last time readers will receive their Sunday paper on Sunday. Henceforth, local readers will receive it on Saturday even though it will be called the Sunday News-Register. (Yeah, I know.) Additionally, the Monday Intelligencer will continue to be distributed on Monday even though most of its news will have occurred a week or so earlier.
Some highlights and lowlights from today’s opinion section.
It was not easy to do but our local papers kept alive their perfect record of never having editorialized against Trump or his administration
The lead editorial, “National Guard Deserve Better" discusses how members of the West Virginia National Guard, as well as other states’ guard units, will come up one day short of 90 and thus be ineligible for numerous benefits including GI educational benefits. The editorial suggests that this is “a low-down, dirty thing to do” but it doesn’t tell us who is to blame beyond “federal officials.” The editorial ends by calling on the president to “override the June 24 cut-off.”
Okay, except that, as sources point out, it was not some nebulous federal official, it was the Trump administration that put the 89-day order in place. From Politico, who broke the story last week:
More than 40,000 National Guard members currently helping states test residents for the coronavirus and trace the spread of infections will face a “hard stop” on their deployments on June 24 — just one day shy of many members becoming eligible for key federal benefits, according to a senior FEMA official.
The official outlined the Trump administration’s plans on an interagency call on May 12, an audio version of which was obtained by POLITICO. The official also acknowledged during the call that the June 24 deadline means that thousands of members who first deployed in late March will find themselves with only 89 days of duty credit, one short of the 90-day threshold for qualifying for early retirement and education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI bill.
Other news sources followed-up on the story. For example, from Slate:
Trump Administration to End National Guard COVID Deployments One Day Before GI Bill Benefits Kick In
And here’s Forbes:
Trump’s Plan Would End National Guard Deployments One Day Before Benefits Kick In
My conclusion: the editorial refuses to acknowledge that it was not some faceless bureaucrat who put the cutoff at 89 days, but rather, the Trump administration. Long-time readers of the local papers can imagine the outrage had the Obama administration done something like this. If this was “a low-down, dirty thing to do,” why can't the editorial recognize who was responsible? Simple -- it was Trump's administration and our papers don't criticize it regardless of what it does.
Senator Capito keeps alive the lie that the U.S. Senate is still trying to provide coronavirus help
Page B3 contains an op-ed by West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito:
Giving Those Affected by COVID-19 Real Help
The op-ed is mostly a rehash of her Senate speech given earlier this week in which she trashed House Speaker Pelosi’s plan and argued that the Senate is actually “listening to people in our states.” Capito remains confident that:
. . . we will take responsible action to build our economy, put people back to work, and help keep our families safe and healthy.
As I pointed-out in my previous post, the Republican Senate, under Mitch McConnell’s leadership, is in no hurry. Yesterday, the New York Times agreed:
After three weeks in session, the United States Senate emptied out again on Friday, as lawmakers fled Washington for the Memorial Day recess. They left without even pretending to tackle the next round of coronavirus relief.
This is how the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, wants it. Many Republicans, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, are reluctant to embrace more government spending, so Mr. McConnell is taking a wait-and-see approach.
The Democratic-led House passed a $3 trillion relief package on May 15. That bill was imperfect but it was something. Mr. McConnell, on the other hand, has repeatedly said he’s in no hurry for the Senate to offer its own proposal. He has put talks on an indefinite pause, saying he wants to see how the economy responds to previous relief measures. The Senate may get around to putting together a plan when it reconvenes next month. Or perhaps it will in July.
So our senator is stalling but wants to look like she and the Republicans are working on something; she’s probably hoping, like our president, that things will simply get better on their own.
On another note, why don’t we locally ever get to read a Democrat’s view on what needs to be done?
Three more arguments for opening the economy
As part of the local Ogden campaign to open the economy, today’s opinion section published two political cartoons and one op-ed in favor of that position. The op-ed, “It’s Time to Return to Work in West Virginia,” is by the president of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association, Rebecca McPhail. I was struck by one of her paragraphs:
In the midst of all this adaptation and innovation, the larger political conversation about COVID-19 responses has made it clear that fear sells. Traditional and social media outlets are being used in some cases to create and/or perpetuate anxiety about returning to work.
I beg to differ. I don’t think I’m the only person who sees that, as the United States approaches 100,000 deaths, it has done little testing or tracing, has no nationwide plan to combat the virus’ spread, and is being led by a man who has been completely clueless as to how the disease is spread or can be dealt with since January 1. Given all of that, I am surprised there is not much more anxiety among the general population.
Again, why have we not seen an article defending a more cautious approach to opening-up the economy including increased testing and contact tracing?
My answer to both questions: because Ogden is first and foremost about propagandizing for the Republican Party and increasing its bottom line (advertising) and only secondarily about informing the public.