Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The unforgiving minute: The Oregonian's “both sides abuse the system” coverage of filibuster reform

All hail Oregon's only state-wide paper, which has a front-page, above-the-fold story today about the movement to reform Senate filibuster rules, led by Oregon's junior senator Jeff Merkley.

The very first sentence of the article quotes unnamed “critics” calling Merkley and his fellow progressive Senators seeking reform “a cohort of shortsighted Senate sophomores.”

But, although the article is 23 paragraphs long, the Republican party -- whose intransigence and hostility to all things Obama are the single and glaringly-obvious reason the Senate has accomplished virtually nothing in the last four years -- is not mentioned once until paragraph 18 (long after the jump to page A13). And that mention is only to repeat Senate Republicans' excuse for filibustering anything that moves: Senate majority leader Harry Reid's alleged “abuse of power.”

The fact -- even the hint of the possibility of the allegation of the fact -- that Senate Republican abuse of the filibuster is the problem, that they simply don't want government to work, that they always aimed to stop Obama from getting reelected, and now will never forgive him for doing so, never appears in the article. (Jimmy Stewart, by contrast, is mentioned in paragraph 11.)

The comics and the NYTimes crossword puzzle are syndicated online, which is where the editors route readers every time Doonesbury runs a strip they don't like anyway. Jack Ohman has left for the Sacramento Bee. So unless you're a relentless opponent of unions, public transit and other alternative transportation, land-use planning, and similar conservative bugaboos -- or you're a fan of David Sarasohn -- it's not clear what the continuing appeal of The Oregonian would be.

Minute's up.

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