Saturday, February 26, 2005

New kid on the block

I'm not quite sure what to make of this, but it's pretty impressive and a little scary. Just take a gander at the "about us" section.


Loxjet said...
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Loxjet said...

I didn't see what I was supposed to be frightened by in the "about us" tab. Tell the truth, I'm more frightened by a certain local weekly that prints a column from an extreme right-winger from Missoula, a column that fools a great number of readers into thinking that, because the columnist is a professor at a state university, he has any honesty, any merit as a rational, truth-telling journalist. Is it an editor's responsibility to recognize that some people believe anything they read, and that there is a limit to the degree of slanted invective that should be printed in a reportedly fair-minded paper?

David said...

Loxjet, I hear a lot of complaints about Natelson, but I've have never heard from anyone who has demonstrated that he is dishonest, irrational or lying. On the contrary, he cites respectable sources for nearly everything he writes. If he's making that stuff up, then prove he's wrong.

When I said "scary," by the way, I didn't mean scary for you. I meant scary for me. Those credentials are impressive and a bit initimidating for a non-tech savvy competitor.

Loxjet said...

David, I sympathize with your fear re: your competitor. I have to face that from time to time myself.
Natelson's whole column is almost always devoted to spinning the truth. While he may not lie outwardly, he presents things in a manner that is one-sided, discounting what is very often a very valid flip side to his argument. To wit, he mentioned a couple weeks ago that the free-spending Gov. Schweitzer was pissing away the money that the thrifty and wise Gov. Martz had so cleverly socked away. This is nowhere in the ballpark of truth-- the surplus, as most everyone who pays attention to these sorts of things knows-- came from an unexpected windfall of oil and gas lease proceeds. Most people who read Natelson's column, however, probably bought was was essentially a bald-faced lie. Ditto his gnashing regarding what he perceives as a conspiracy among the state colleges to keep Rubublicans from gaining tenure. As I pointed out in the comments section of the column, using the same logic, one could accuse chamber of commerce members of purposely excluding Democrats. It so happens that professors of most college disciplines harbor a world view that doesn't meld with the binary thinking of the typical Republican.

Natelson spins facts to create a version of events that, unless one really pays attention, demonstrates the supremacy of the GOP and the fuzzy, floundering immorality of the hippie liberals. And, David, we both know that few readers realize what utter horseshit Natelson prints; if it's there in black and white, it must be true. We don't have to look very far back in history to find examples of the ugly repercussions of propaganda.

The most difficult thing for me to reconcile is the statement on your masthead proclaiming your paper free of influence from the left or the right. Certainly you dodge the issue technically by printing Nateleson's column as an "opinion" piece. But if you were truly concerned about balance, you'd find some Communist wacko who spins everything to the far left. That way we could read two columns rife with extremist dogma.

Like most clever spin doctors, Natelson is often difficult to pin down. And I'm afraid, David, that you adopt the right-wing matra employed by O'Reilly, Hannity, Scarborough, et. al.: "Prove he's wrong." The Martz thing is easy to prove, but the college discrimination would be almost impossible. Even though it stands to reason that college professors would naturally lean left, how could I or anybody else prove that they aren't discriminating? That's the whole problem with the "prove it" mantra employed so often by Republicans: a clever spin doctor can spew right-wing invective without allowing anybody to grab ahold of his tail. In this way, Natelson is our Ann Coulter.

It would be nice, though, David, to see an attempt at editorial balance. Though Billings is a conservative town, and therefore overjoyed to pick up an Outpost featuring that grinning jackaninny with 1980's eyeglasses, a reasoned counterpoint from a compassionate Democrat, one who realizes that government exists to protect the weak from the strong, might even change a few minds in this town. And, David, you could make it possible. I hope you consider it.

Anonymous said...

Well, Loxjet, ya want'a know something? Ol' perfusser Nasalsound enjoys using his OWN slanted studies in his articles!! Now THIS is beyond the pale! Robby writes his own study, THEN QUOTES IT! So, not only is it in print once, but twice! Now THAT'S a pretty goofy thing to do in my book! It's kinda like the gannon/guckert/ "reporter" escort thing! It's all fake! But no one can say that Presidunce bush doesn't support the military. Heck, he even hired a guy from! Wonder just HOW familar the chimp is with mr. gannon/guckert/hotmilitarystud?!! Course, the perfesser himself never quite made it into the military during Vietnam! But he did save the flag once according to his wife's editorial in the paper from a group of war protesting students who were going to burn it! Hey, I wonder if Robby has his own site, maybe something like

Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers. We hold the hard line of hope.

David said...

Thanks for your thoughtful response. But I stand by my defense of Natelson. He certainly is by no stretch comparable to the calculatedly irresponsible Ann Coulter. Although I don't always (or even often) agree with him, he is a smart guy whose opinions I respect. And his assertions normally are open to challenge on the basis of data, which makes them testable.

I think, for example, that Gov. Martz does deserve some credit for the budget surplus. If she had to take the heat for her tightfisted budgets -- which she did -- then she deserves some credit for leaving money in the bank account. Natelson's account may not be fair and balanced, but that's what opinion writing is all about.

I think he also has a point about college hiring practices. I'm no expert, but I've hung around academia enough to sense that what faculties look for when they hire and award tenure is "collegiality." They may not consciously exclude conservatives; they just don't find conservatives pleasant to be around.

I am always open to reasonable viewpoints from the other side. Indeed, I get criticized far more often for printing too much that leans left than right. I don't keep score, but I do like strong opinions from all ends of the spectrum.

wssyprr said...

I wonder if this "Larry Kralj" or Anonymous realizes what an ass he comes across as with his idiotic made-up slander and stupid names. If you have a reasonable point or a valid argument, you don't need this vulgar stupidity.

Anonymous said...

Well, if YOU see something incorrect in those posts, PLEASE POINT OUT WHAT IT IS! Natelson's wife DID write such a letter to the Missoulian! He HAS quoted his own studies! He RAN from service in Nam! He CLAIMS to have saved a flag from protesting students during his college days, at great risk to his person! Bush DID hire a homo with his own web site entitle, a guy who lobbed such hardballs at the Chimp as, "how can you work with the dems when they're so far removed from reality"! So, mr. big talker, PROVE HIM WRONG!....or do you just show up to pass gass occassionally? Seems that it's YOU who's slandered someone here!

wssyprr said...

I never said that your points were wrong - read what I posted. If you have valid points then you don't need the vulgar stupidity: "Perfussor; presidunce; the chimp; Nasalsound; etc.

Make your points in an intelligent manner and people might actually pay attention to you.

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