Struggling Leftist Louisville Courier-Journal Fires Longtime Conservative Columnist
The Louisville Courier-Journal has a long and storied history. Originally the product of a merger between several Louisville newspapers in 1868, the newspaper has been the largest print outlet in the city for well over a century. But of late, the newspaper has undergone severe economic problems, with owner Gannett Company laying off 51 employees in 2008 and 44 more in 2009.
Part of that is the newspaper’s dramatic shift to the left over the past few years. Since the election in November, the newspaper’s editorial board has called for Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to resign as Senate Minority Leader and accused McConnell of being the target of “national ridicule,” and run comics depicting McConnell consigned to the flames of hell; it has suggested that Senate Republicans “smacked down the disabled of this country and the world.”
In the latest symptom of that circulation-killing shift left, the newspaper is laying off longtime columnist John David Dyche, a Harvard Law grad and area lawyer who has been writing the token conservative column on the paper since 2003.
Why are they laying Dyche off? Dyche proposed a column to the newspaper suggesting fixes for their editorial woes, including:
- “balanced opinion pages” rather than “stridently liberal”;
- disclosing editors’ and reporters’ politics – “Journalists believe that they, unlike mere mortals, can transcend their personal opinions to be basically fair and objective in presenting the news. Perhaps, but readers should be the ones to judge”;
- open meetings about editorial decisions – “Let the public see how and by whom decisions are made as to what to cover, who should cover it, and what headlines, photographs, and placement it receives.”
The editorial board did not take such suggestions kindly, and rejected the column outright. They told Dyche that the column was not within the purview of his mandate as a conservative columnists. Editorial Director Pam Platt left Dyche a message:
Hi, John David, it’s Pam Platt at the Courier-Journal and I’m just calling to let you know that I’m not going to run your column tomorrow. To me it goes sort of off of what your column is supposed to be. My understanding is a conservative take on issues of the day and that’s not what this is. So, anyway, thanks a lot and I’ll talk to you soon.
Dyche responded by email:
[T]he submitted column is very much about “a conservative take on the issues of the day.” One of those issues is liberal media bias. Another such issue is the survival of old line newspapers in a changing media marketplace. Conservatives think there is liberal media bias and that old line newspapers would fare better in the marketplace if they made changes of the sort I propose. Indeed, your refusal to run this column vividly illustrates the very issues about which I write!
Dyche added, “If there is no change of mind on the paper’s part we should probably end my decade-old relationship with the paper.” Platt quickly wrote back, “I do want to thank you for the pieces you did on the opinion pages for the past 10 years, and I wish you the very best in your life and your work.”
That’s how the left handles calls for balance. By destroying the only semblance of balance they have left.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).