Friday, July 01, 2005

The First Thing to Do is Stop Digging

There's an old saying: "When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging." This, apparently, is a lesson the Minnesota Daily has yet to learn.

At the beginning of the 2004-2005 school year, Opinions editor Tim Burnett wrote, "What readers can and should demand is a balanced discussion...” When I read this, I had some hope that it would actual happen. The year before, accusations of a liberal bias were rampant; many students, myself included, felt that the Daily consistently endorsed the policies of the liberal sector of society while belittling conservative groups. Sadly, this year turned out to be no different:

Nick Woomer, a regular columnist, showed himself to be particularly bigoted against Christians and Republicans. The editorial cartoonist seemed (and still seems) to be unable to point his pen towards anyone to the left of John McCain. Karl Noyes, then the senior editorial board member, made it apparent that he wouldn't let facts stand in the way of trying to paint President Bush as an art-hating Nazi. Libby George, the Daily's reader representative, admitted in an end-of-the-year column that the Daily had and still has hiring policies in place that give preference to liberal applicants over conservative ones.

So, after publicly admitting that they were doing more to stifle the "balanced discussion" than to encourage it, the Daily would surely make some changes in order to discourage such one-sidedness, right? Nope, they kept right on digging. These new shovelfulls came in the form of making Karl Noyes the Daily’s Editorial and Opinions Editor.

This appointment was the very worst decision the administration at the Daily could have made, given the circumstances. Rather than recognizing the need for true balance in opinions, the powers-that-be ignored the distracting years-long dialog regarding editorial biases and left conservatives with only token-anti-liberal Darren Bernard to represent them. Less than a month after Noyes wrote an incredibly un-researched hack job on President Bush and the Secret Service (one that prompted changes in the Daily's fact-checking policies), he was given even more power to spread his venom - and he has not failed to disappoint.

Since his elevation in status, the one column attributed to Noyes was nothing more than an unveiled attack on religion and the religious. The board editorials of the last month (whose writer(s) remain unidentified) have included defense and praise for liberal bastion PBS, smears towards Republicans, frothing condemnations of Quran abuse long after such "abuse" was shown to be, at worst, accidental, and a call to close the prison at Guantanamo. This last soapbox became especially ineffective after Senators visited the jail and found it to be nothing like the torturous hellhole the media made it out to be.

So you'll have to forgive me if I don't believe Noyes when he writes "these pages are open to you.” I’ve been there; I’ve tried to “write a letter or column” (or two). I know all too well that, given my socio-political views, my letters don’t stand a chance against a vegan communist atheist’s letter to the editor announcing the next meeting of the Vegan Communist Atheists club or a pro-abortion feminist’s call to arms for her fellow pro-choice activists to hold a protest on Northrop mall against government intervention in their wombs. I suppose I’ll probably keep reading the liberal staff editorials, the letters comparing Bush to Hitler, and maybe even the incoherently biased editorial cartoons, but given the leadership at the top of the OpEd department, I won’t waste my time writing in, for I know that to Noyes, a balanced dialog only needs equal parts pro-liberal and anti-Bush.