Why does the Oregonian put up with David Reinhard?

By Edward Le Claire of Portland, Oregon. Edward is a lawyer from Montana who is just getting started here in Portland. Edward moved to Portland after finishing a clerkship for Justice Leaphart of the Montana Supreme Court. Edward has been volunteering for the ACLU and is beginning a practice in the area of criminal defense. Previously, he contributed "Dean, Lakoff, and the Elephant."

Is David Reinhard so bad that he can't even come up with his own bad editorials anymore?

In Sunday's Oregonian, Reinhard basically regurgitates the allegations from Washington Post columnist Charles Hurt. Reinhard made enough changes and added enough content that maybe his article isn't actual plagiarism. But comparing Reinhard's article to Hurt's piece is sort of like listening to Vanilla Ice's 'Ice Ice Baby' and then thinking of Queen's 'Under Pressure.' You just can't help but wince at the similarities.

Both articles claim that Minority Senate leader Harry Reid's mentioning of a judicial nominees FBI file is horribly bad -- an unconscionable smear. The basic facts are that Sen. Reid made a brief reference to the FBI file of Bush's nominee to the 6th Circuit, Henry Saad. The Senate has a rule preventing disclosure of the contents of secret FBI files. Reinhard notes that 'maybe' Reid didn't violate the rule, but he characterizes the mere reference to an FBI file as a wicked stunt and equates it to character assassination.

That Hurt/Reinhard don't like Reid is fine. A little disagreement on the Op-Ed page is a great thing and usually makes for good reading. The problem I have with Reinhard's article is the information is selectively presented, which can only mislead the average reader. Reid didn't make this up and this isn't the first that anybody has heard of a problem in Saad's file. In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a closed meeting specifically to discuss the contents of Saad's FBI file. That's public knowledge. A portion of that committee meeting was inadvertently made public because a staffer forgot to turn off the C-SPAN internet microphone.

The average reader of the Oregonian is likely to get most of his/her information on this topic from Reinhard's article and probably isn't going to know the back story, that people are talking about Saad having a problem in his FBI file. Because I already had some knowledge about the issue from the blogosphere, I immediately recognized the article as misleading partisan hackery.

If the Oregonian wants to publish misleading editorial pieces, why bother with Reinhard? Why not cut the middle man and just publish the original Hurt article? Wouldn't that be more honest?

Comments

  • Yoram (unverified)
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    Yeah, Reinhard doesn't seem to be very original a lot of the time. Talking points, distortions, etc. Beyond him disagreeing with me, his columns just don't seem very thoughtful or honest, so it's doubly troubling.

    It seems like keeping him on is really bad newspapering, but bound to be done, as he's apparently a really nice guy. And hey, every now and then he does his own work and says something thoughtful.

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    I'm so with you on this one, Edward. I'd even turn it around--is this really the guy conservatives want speaking for them? He's so lame, I can't imagine they do.

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    I would find it difficult to believe at this point that anyone is left who thinks The Oregonian gives a wet rat's ass about the credibility of their own editorial page decisions.

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    I wish I could remember the instance, and I don't want to just smear by rumor, but there was an event in the campaign where Reinhard basically regurgitated a press release sent out by Ed Gillespie. Nowhere was it mentioned that the column was lifted from the RNC.

    The other problem I have with Reinhard is that he isn't a thoughtful conservative along the lines of, say, Bill Safire. Essentially, he is almost certain to toe the administration line. There doesn't seem to be much sense of critical or independent thought.

    I think it's good for the Oregonian to have a conservative columnist, but let's have one who at least has some indepedent thoughts.

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    I think it's good for the Oregonian to have a conservative columnist, but let's have one who at least has some indepedent thoughts.

    I nominate Rob Kremer.

    I've met Reinhard briefly and he kind of confirmed my instinct (and apparently those of a few others here) that he's a nice and earnest guy who's not prone to critical thinking. Sounds like around 80% of the columnists currently in the biz.

    Thank the Diety for David Sarasohn.........

  • Tom Keffer (unverified)
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    Dude,

    Charles Hurt writes for the Washington Times, not the Post.

    Easy mistake to make.

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    Concur. I've got nothing against conservatives having a voice in the editorial pages, but my problem with David is exactly what you're getting at: his columns have a consistent and striking lack of originality.

    I really think he could easily downsized by a $100 fax machine from the RNC. It's really a coup that he still gets paid to "write" this stuff. I'd much rather see some young conservative who's still hungry enough to do a little research before cutting, pasting, and calling it a day.

    Reinhard is just not a good writer, and that transends politics.

  • Jeff Brown (unverified)
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    Reinhard is always ommiting key facts,and he always pens to the blind. Anybody who is truly informed Knows better, his arguments are always rehashed spin with just a little varient, as to not plagiarize. His job must be so easy, and they pay him for this? I'm in the wrong business.

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    i'm pretty sure i'm not an average Oregonian reader; i never read reinhard. what's the point? unlike david sarasohn, he not only rarely has anything original to say (ok, i used to read him; i stopped for these very reasons) he has not discernable writing talent. sarasohn is a terrific writer, highly underrated in my opinion. reinhard is an embarrassment; sarasohn is a jewel.

  • Daniel (unverified)
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    The Fishwrapper knows that to keep up the appearance of imparitality they must have at least one token conservative. They just don't want one who writes well. They will run a syndicated column form a conservative when it fits their view. Think William Krystal of the Weekly Standard. They ran his column calling for the ouster of Rumsfeld, that was the only time his words have been put in print by the Oregonian. Then you had Rich Lowry advocating for lax marijuanna laws the other day, you know that was in every Fishwrap in the country. As a conservative I turn to other places than the mainstream media to get my fix.

    Daniel's Political Musings

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    Good one, Daniel.

    That nasty old liberal Oregonian, the paper that in it's 150+ year history has endorsed exactly two (2) Democrats for President.

    They were so unnerved by having done so the first time they actually endoresed W. the next time around.

    I shudder to think what they'll stoop to to make up for it now that they've done it twice.

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    I shudder to think what they'll stoop to to make up for it now that they've done it twice.

    Abuse the role of the op-ed page in order to pervert the JTTF story maybe?

    Oh wait, they already did that.

  • panchopdx (unverified)
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    For years I've had a low opinion of D. Reinhard because he has generally represented the worse aspects of conservatism. He borders on being a stiff-necked social conservative while lapsing into fiscal weenieism (he endorsed the M28 tax increase for Chrissakes!).

    I once wrote (on B!x's blog I think) that the big O' was happy with Reinhard playing Alan Colmes to Sarasohn's Sean Hannity.

    I still think that is true, but I have to acknowledge that he seems to be getting marginally better as of late. I only cringe about a third of the time when I read his column.

    PS - I second Pat Ryan's motion for Rob Kremer.

  • Archea (unverified)
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    He is so far to the right that he and lars should walk hand in hand. The same could be said about larson, why does Oregon put up with his shenanigans and half-truths, please throw in Daniel (ditto head) in the same ring, and come up w/something original. From my point of view I don’t think the Oregonian is lib enough and the “right” there of the mind set it’s not conservative enough.

  • cicolini (unverified)
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    I read the Oregonian editorials, signed and unsigned. Its some sort of pioneer penance, I think, but that's probably more information than you wanted.

    I would think there is a buyers market for rightie pundits now, but Caldwell sticks with his man Reinhard. His Charles Starr logic is a constant roadbump, incongruious and funky with the rest of the page. Along with the Oregonian's policy of never firing anyone, some writers have gone to pot (Nicolas, Sarasohn), but some just get better with age (Landauer, Bates), its unlikely change is on the horizon.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Davey, like most conservatives, is a coward.

    He's written half a dozen columns on "fixing" Jefferson High School, but has never been there. Never.

    If The Oregonian ever buys a crane to get him out from behind his desk, he'd be a dangerous journalist. Until then, he's "Cut, Paste and Slime" Davey. Nothing more.

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    The Oregonian never claimed that Reinhard was a journalist. They got what they knew what they were getting. Reinhard came to the O as a Republican political hack, having worked in the Reagan Administration and as a legislative assistant to a Republican congressman.

    Here's the announcement from the 1987 O giving Reinhard's brief background:

    ASSOCIATE EDITOR NAMED

    Date: Sunday, September 6, 1987 Section: Local Stories Edition: Fourth Page: D11

    David W. Reinhard has been named an associate editor of The Oregonian, Robert M. Landauer, editorial page editor, has announced.

    Reinhard, 35, came to the newspaper as an editorial writer in February. Before that he worked as special assistant to the assistant secretary of energy for conservation and renewable energy in the Reagan administration, and before that he was special assistant to the undersecretary of energy.

    Reinhard earned his bachelor of arts degree at Albright College in Reading, Pa., and master's and doctoral degrees in history at Pennsylvania State University. He was legislative assistant to U.S. Rep. Joseph McDade, R-Pa., from 1981 to 1984 with duties in taxation, economic development, energy, environment and defense.

    Reinhard's book, ``The Republican Right Since 1945,'' was published in 1983 by the University of Kentucky Press and received good reviews from historians.

    He is married to Susan Finegan Reinhard and has two children.

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    Perfect. We have out slogan...

    David Reinhard: Not a journalist, but he plays one in the newspaper.

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    The same could be said about larson

    Say what you will about Lars' politics, but at least he's a competent and occasionally independent advocate for his deeply misguided point of view. And once upon of time, he was a pretty good investigative reporter.

    Contrast that with Reinhard, who never seems to be able to put pen to paper without subtracting from the sum total of human knowledge.

  • dispossessed (unverified)
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    "Contrast that with Reinhard, who never seems to be able to put pen to paper without subtracting from the sum total of human knowledge."

    Ouch. It just gets funnier and funnier. Didn't you people read that he was a nice guy? Why are you trying to make him feel bad? ;-)

    I agree that he is a weak columnist of any stripe. However, I do not agree that a degree in journalism is either necessary or even the best background for a "real" journalist -- Mr. Reinhard aside. A broad general education is as often as not thought to be the best soil for a journalist to plant feet in. Then of course graduate work at Columbia for the elite.

    Don't get too worried about a journalism degree. I expect you would find historically that most great journalists did not have them, and that even currently most good journalists will have good liberal arts educations rather than a concentration in the mundanities, which can be learned or earned as a minor concentration.

  • Jeff Bull (unverified)
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    Screw the originality angle: David Reinhard is nothing more or less than a hack. If I were a GOPer, I'd inundate the Oregonian with demands that he be replaced.

    I'm with Daniel (somewhere way up there): there's decent conservative thought out there - even stuff that doesn't agree with my views - but it's at least intelligent argument that can expand one's understanding of an issue.

    It's out there and I've read it, but apparently Reinhard hasn't...otherwise he might write a decent column from time to time...

  • Archea (unverified)
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    I can't disagree with you there charlie

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    No one suggested a journalism degree is necessary...its just that you'd think before being named an editor a person would have some sort of career experience journalism.

    Lars Larson actually was a pretty good news reporter in his former life. I can recall a speech he gave at an AP annual awards dinner where he encouraged his colleagues to regularly file public record requests.

    Reinhard, on the other hand, was hired as an editorial writer and then later that year made an editor. If it matters to Oregonians, . . . .

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Heya Chuck. I remember that speech by Lars. Earlier in the day, at that AP convention, he hosted a forum on "newsroom diversity" attended by an entirely white audience. The irony escaped Lars completely. I guess he lost his sense of humor sometime around marriage two or three. Or was it four?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    "special assistant to the assistant secretary of energy for conservation and renewable energy in the Reagan administration"

    Haha, hahaha. Well, what can you expect? Reinhard came to the Oregonian with valuable experience at dismantling the energy initiatives of the Carter administration while pretending to promote conservation and renewable energy. Since his history degree programs probably did not include much study of energy engineering, I imagine his job was communication. More precisely, he would have invented and arranged the lies coming out of the Reagan administration about energy policy, while the big boys made sure we would remain dependent on the fossil fuel and nuclear industries. Given our present addiction to oil and the tons of high-level nuclear waste looking for a home, he must have done a good job for Reagan.

    This was perfect training for a conservative pundit, whose function, after all, is to weave convincing fantasies to cover rape of the planet, rape of our livelihoods, and rape of our minds and bodies.

    As far as originality, we must understand that almost all rightwing pundits work off the same list of talking points. There are only so many ways of saying that resistance to extreme polarization of wealth is "class warfare", or that wanting clean air and water is "environmental extremism." Cut David a break, he has a tough job.

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    "special assistant" = "political hack"

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    "special assistant to the assistant secretary of energy for conservation and renewable energy in the Reagan administration"

    this level of functionary, where it seems the title length exceeds the importance of the position by an order of magnitude, reminds me of Vonnegut's protagonist in Jailbird. If only Reinhard had been ensnared in Iran/Contra, or even (James) Wattgate!

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    "special assistant to the assistant secretary of energy for conservation and renewable energy in the Reagan administration" = the recycling guy!

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    The Oregonian's editorial - Form, not necessarily substance (May 21) - missed the most compelling point in George Galloway’s exposure of the U.S. Senate as a house of naked emperors. So too, apparently, did the herd of sheep known as the American people.

    In 1954 Army counsel Joseph Welch asked the infamous Senator Joe McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency?” These words reversed the McCarthy vendetta and the shame he brought to the U.S. Senate and the nation.

    In 2005 George Galloway told the U.S. Senate and the American people, "Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong, and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.” and few people seem to care. If this is not evidence of moral bankruptcy of the American people, I don’t know what is.

    <h2>What a difference fifty years make.</h2>
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