The Oregonian - some thoughts

Albert Kaufman

The Oregonian - some thoughts

The Oregonian.

I've been contemplating this blog posting for a while, letting the random thoughts about the Oregonian's rightward slant, tilt, capitulation stew in my brain. I'm happy that we have a local paper (The Oregonian) that does a pretty good job at keeping us up to date about Oregon news, and local news, but the editorial rightward slant to just about everything continually upsets me.

Was it the recent articles about the Wu and Schrader primary races that were blatantly attacking the incumbents when the basis for the article seemed to be about the Republican primaries in those races and had nothing to do with Schrader and Wu, at all? Or, is it more the general libertarian tone to all things having to do with the urban growth boundary, the Columbia River Crossing, and environmental (LNG/Tillamook State Forest clear-cutting/BP Oil Disaster) issues? Or, is it the constant picking at Mayor Sam Adams for any and every reason? Or, perhaps its all of the above.

What would I like to see instead? I'd like to see the Oregonian climb out of the gutter it's in and stop pandering to the right. I'd like to see less coverage of every movement that Tea Party activists make in Oregon and beyond. I'd like to see a fair discussion of Voter Owned Elections and an end to the years-long attack on this system. I'd like to see editorial stances that reflect what's good for Portland and Oregon and not just what the business community might favor. Generally, I'd like to see less favoritism towards the right. Portland is a lefty town. Oregon is a blue state.

So, more on the solution. I think for me it's to continue to support news sources that are good and not biased as I feel the Oregonian is - right now the best sources seem to be on-line ones. That said, I'd love to see the O clean up its act cause there's nothing like reading an actual physical paper, and responding to it.

This is an invitation to others to discuss the state of the Oregonian, and ways to help them either shift to something that's more fair and balanced, or - replace them? I'm open to suggestion - my preference would be to keep the Oregonian going, but I will not support them if the constant attack on progressive policies and politicians continues.

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    Given how Left this state is, don't you think it can handle a little right of center dialog from the O? I mean really, must we live in an echo chamber all the time?

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    I can assure you that any Republicans, and particularly conservative Republicans, who read this are rolling on the floor laughing at the idea that the Oregonian panders to the right.

    You can certainly pull out some issues where the Oregonian is to the right of most Portland voters (which is a very leftwing standard by which to judge) but on balance the Oregonian leans much more to the left than to the right.

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        Actually, the Oregonian endorsed John Kerry in 2004.

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        Having been corrected by Michael, I've thought about the 2004 endorsement more deeply, and I feel bad about the way I portrayed it now that I remember it better.

        My recollection is that the editorial board met assuming that they'd endorse Bush again, only to discover only 2 of them (Reinhard and the publisher, IIRC), wanted to. In an act of benevolence the publisher allowed the board to endorse Kerry. I do think the publisher's inclination is indicative of a rightward slant, though.

        Rather than it being "made public", the paper seemed pretty open about the process.

        Sorry I got didn't do my due diligence on that faulty memory.

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      Jack, Albert has provided some specifics on the rightward slant of the paper, yet you provide no specifics as counter argument, just your feelings that it's tilted to the left.

      Can you provide any specifics?

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    The Oregonian was founded as a Republican newspaper designed to voice business interests. That its editorial board continues to take such a stance to this day should not be particularly surprising.

    It is much more centrist than in the past however, and even endorsed a democratic for president for the first time in 1992. And as Jack Roberts implies above, while it has historically been an economic conservative paper it's always represented the business side of the Republican party which may not appeal particularly to some social conservatives.

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    Did you think yesterday's front-page article about Portland's utter failure to deliver on its tax-increment-financed promise for low-income housing in SoWa was an example of the rightward tilt of the Oregonian? How about the exposure a while back of graft in the state treasury department? What online news (news, not editorial) sources are doing investigative reporting like this? Are you sure your antipathy to the Oregonian results from the conservative bias of its editorial stances, or does it come from its ability to examine and report on the successes and failures of government programs and officials? Are you sure you're not looking for a self-congratulatory echo chamber that will reflect back to you what you already believe, rather than something that might from time to time challenge those beliefs or cast light on some of the downsides of policies you support?

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    I'm an Oregonian subscriber, and am particularly appreciative when their investigative reporting does a good job. It's not the paper it was when it had a lot more resources, but it's a key part of my keeping up.

    What's frustrating for me is their editorials often don't take the time to discuss and respond to the other side's perspective.

    For example, some who support Voter Owned Elections are concerned developers are the main large funders of city campaigns. That may have a connection to their front-page story on South Waterfront shorting affordable housing... "PDC executives also didn't exercise their contract rights to force the developer to discount the prices. Twete said calculating the discount and negotiating with developers was too difficult." and "city executives failed to follow their own policies and didn't flex powers they fought for in talks with developers.... PDC leaders say they did their best while pressured by City Hall and developers..."

    I like being challenged - and read The Economist and conservative blogs - but I actually want to be engaged by editorials. Instead, we get big graphics and fewer words - less engagement in discourse.

    That said, I appreciated their editorial holding Jim Huffman accountable for his disingenuous attack of the timber industry-backed plan on the Eastside forests as being bad for timber.

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    Right-wing compared to whom? Trotsky? Che'? the New York Times? How far left do you have to be to consider the Oregoian right-wing?

    I continue to subscribe to the Oregonian only because it still has two full pages of comics. I certainly don't get it for it's objective journalism. For over twenty years, the left-wing slant has been consistent and blatant, with occasional right of center articles to give the illusion of being balanced.

    Most of this bias is in the stories themselves, the pictures they choose to run, the stories they omit. The articles carefully choose words to lead a reader to draw a conclusion even if the story is overtly balanced. Nothing new here, most papers and television news engage in this practice.

    Oregon has gotten so liberal and the liberals here have gotten so insulated from other points of view that even a left-leaning paper like the Oregonian seems conservative to you.

    Ah, but your post did give me a chuckle.

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      Well Ken, I think we've hit the nail on the head with that "compared to whom" statement. You just misapplied it.

      You complain that "Oregon has gotten so liberal" that even a "left-leaning newspaper" seems conservative. Might I suggest another perspective? You sound like you're (to reshash an old political joke) to the Right of Darth Vader.

      You actually think that Che and the New York Times are comparable. The NYT that was one of the biggest cheerleaders for Bush's little Iraq war. (Or is that being being sold as all having been a Democratic idea now? I don't keep up with FAUX "News"'s latest lies.)

      Teabaggers are a small fringe of the body politic with none too keen a grasp on reality (to put it kindly - judging by their signs, most are racist liars). Yet speaking of media slant, they've been reported on about 100 times disproportionate to their actual numbers among voters.

      I don't particularly care if the Oregonian editorializes against Voter Owned Elections. But the truth is that Oregonians are generally more educated. This makes them liberals. So it isn't unfair to ask the Oregonian to not sell bias in its stories. Of whatever stripe, but particularly conservative. Since slant towards the interests of multi-millionares at the expense of the middle class is so ubiquitous (at least in any media that requires millions of dollars to own).

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        Hmm, you sure throw a lot of labels around. I am right of Darth Vader? Darth was a goon for a Dictatorship. I see dictatorships as the ultimate extrapolation of the liberal philosophy of Government with their reach into everything. “A Government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have” (Gerald Ford, 1974). So being to the right of muscle for a Big Government dictatorship isn’t hard to do. In the work of fiction called the Star Wars movies, that dictatorship replaced a Republic. Exactly what could happen in this country if Government continues to grow and reach even more into people’s lives and businesses. So, I guess I see Darth Vader as the ultimate left-winger.

        Now if you said I am to the right of most Blue Oregon posters you would then speak the truth. But BO doesn’t represent the mainstream, as I would hope you know.

        Che’ and the NYT were examples and set in congruent dichotomy against the Oregonian. It was clearly hyperbole and if you were as “educated” (because you know, you’re liberal and all) as you insinuate yourself to be, you would recognize that me using that literary technique does not imply symmetry in the opposing examples.

        Bear in mind that educated does not mean intelligent. Your statement you make about Oregonians being more educated and therefore more liberal is an unproven assumption, not borne out by actual observation of the population as a whole.

        But your statement does reflect the smug, self-congratulatory attitude I expect out of liberals. Like you are the chosen ones and the rest of us are the unwashed heathen.

        I don’t know any “teabaggers” (pejorative term), but I know many citizens who have taken part in TEA party movement events. Marginalize them at your peril.

        I post here because I enjoy a little intellectual discourse. Your post is full of pejorative labels and the typical liberal condescension towards people who don’t think like you do.

        Try again, without making unjustified assumptions. I understand you see the Oregonian differently as I do. It sounds like you see the New York Times differently, too. Try making your arguments without throwing around pejorative labels. Otherwise you have nothing substantial to add to the dialogue.

        Ford,G (1974) Address to a joint session of congress. Retrieved from

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          Right on the money! The only people who think the O is anything but a left wing rag in a left wing state ...has never read it! How is it possible for anyone to think otherwise? Then again as the recent Zogby Poll demonstrated to the world in spades: When it comes to questions testing basic economic theory .. Liberals are dumber than 5th Graders, and not just kind of!

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            First off, this "poll" is a bunch of crap, and appears not to be a Zogby poll, but was done with the assistance of someone who works for Zogby.

            And all it shows is that conservatives agree with conservative economic dogma more than liberals do. It doesn't test actual knowledge -- it tests whether people agree with certain economic viewpoints.

            How about you take a little test on some economic facts:

            1. After the Reagan tax cuts took effect in 1981, unemployment went:

            A. Up B. Down C. Stayed about the same

            1. After tax increases were passed early in Clinton's administration, unemployment went:

            A. Down B. Up C. Stayed about the same

            1. Compared to Carter's administration, in Ronald Reagan's first term median family income rose:

            A. Significantly less B. Significantly more C. About the same

            We await your answers, to see if you get a passing grade.

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    Plus if the O is too middle-of-the-road for your tastes, there is always the Mercury and Willamette Week.

    Willamette Week has way better investigative journalism than the O anyway. I agree with almost nothing editorially in WW, but they have broken way more big stories and small exposes than the Oregonian. I have a lot of respect for WW, ideology be damned.

    The story of Neil Goldschmidt's pedophilia and cover-up and a story on Portland's pension budget crisis in 1998 (eight years before the O discovered this story) are two examples of how WW is way less concerned with upsetting the local Democrat/liberal machine.

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    I got to see Amy Goodman speak last weekend at the Green Festival in Seattle. And also Derek Jensen's recent article in Orion magazine come to mind - about how journalism like we find in the O actually holds back our movement forward as a City/State and Country. How by giving climate deniers equal time we're actually stopping progress on climate change legislation and action for what? to sell more newspapers? To popularize controversy? To keep the divide going? What purpose does it serve anyone for the O to print a fundraising letter by Avel Gordley for the Recall 2.0 folks - with a link to their website, which the O never does? Portland City Councilmembers at some point thought that Voter Owned Elections is a good system worth trying out. Who does it serve for the O to take pot shots at that system every single chance they get? Is that news? Is that what a newspaper is supposed to do? I guess I idealistically believe that the newspaper is supposed to present us with the news - not editorialized news, not slanted news, but just news. Well-written, fact-based. Instead we've got a paper with an agenda, a few agendas, and they push those agendas hard. When I visited Seattle last weekend and got reacquainted with the Seattle Times, I was so refreshed at their writing style. There's something wrong with the Oregonian, and just switching to the WW or Merc is not the answer, I think a first step is to talk about the issue, and get it out in the open.

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    Here's the Jensen article link:

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    I have canceled my subscription, but buy a couple of times (including Sunday) or look at one left behind in a coffee shop. I appreciate their coverage of things Portland or Oregon, but cannot continue to regularly support the directions the editorial board wants to go. I think Elizabeth Hovde is a step down in intellectual prowess from Dave (and didn't think it possible). I read her briefly to see if there is anything of interest, but find her reasoning powers so weak that high schoolers can find the weak spots.

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