Sept. 12 2012 09:48 AM

San Diego’s daily paper publishes insane editorial, creates a local monopoly

'New' U-T owner Doug Manchester

If you’ve been reading U-T San Diego since the paper was sold to hotel developer Doug Manchester, you know that its editorials have become far more ideologically conservative than ever before (no easy feat), less intellectually sound and increasingly bizarre. We’ve read them with a mix of shock and amusement, but we’ve ultimately been able to shrug them off, even the ones that said that Bush I and II were among the six best presidents in the history of the nation.

That is, until last weekend. On Sunday, the U-T, published an editorial under the headline “Obama in 2016? A choice for America!” that was sort of guided by a movie currently in theaters, 2016: Obama’s America, directed by archconservative author Dinesh D’Souza. The editorial attempts to paint a picture of the country after another four years under the leadership of Barack Obama: It’s a hair-raising, spine-tingling tour into a practically apocalyptic future.

And it reads as if written by a not-too-sharp Young Republican college freshman getting his first shot at a commentary in the school paper.

Some choice quotes: “[W]e predict many Californians will be paying 60 to 70 percent of their income [in taxes]. But 65 percent of Californians will pay no tax at all”; “Israel’s very existence will be in jeopardy”; “Death panels and other rationing plans will limit care”; “As Obama’s war on God and life continues, we predict an effort to have late-term abortions paid for by taxpayers…”; “We even predict an effort to get ‘In God we Trust’ removed from U.S. symbols, including our money.”

Not our money! Who’ll protect our money?! 

San Diego, you are the eighth largest city in the country. You’ve fought long and hard to be taken seriously. And this is your daily newspaper.

Under the Copley family leadership, the U-T’s editorials were conservative, yes, but at least they were written smartly enough that you could argue with them. But editorials like this one are too absurd for reasoned debate, too ridiculous for thoughtful conversation. This one makes the most hysterical Tea Party member sound like William F. Buckley. If it were (much) better written, you’d swear it came from The Onion or The Daily Show.

As we write this Tuesday morning, we’re getting confirmation of Monday’s rumor that Manchester has purchased the North County Times, San Diego County’s other major daily. This lunatic now has monopoly control of daily print journalism throughout the region.

Opinions on the current state of the U-T, and the future of the North County Times, will vary depending on whether a person believes daily print journalism is dying a slow death anyway and how much a person cares about the future of the region. For those who care, and think print journalism still plays a vital role, these are bleak days. Our hearts break for the talented reporters who remain at these two institutions.

Credentials where they’re due

In this week’s news section, we report that the San Diego Police Department is under fire for how it decides which members of the press receive official media credentials.

If SDPD’s policy—“the applicant must demonstrate a need to cross police and/or fire lines on a regular basis”—was applied strictly across the board, it would result in the revocation of credentials from hundreds of journalists (including ours). Pretty much anyone who isn’t a police-beat reporter or on a television news crew would have to hand back their plastic ID cards.

We use the passes to access closed press conferences, attend events at secure facilities, identify ourselves to police in chaotic environments (like Occupy San Diego) and prove we’re not terrorists when we’re caught snooping outside government buildings. We might not cross police lines on a “regular basis,” but that’s because, thankfully, events like earthquakes, wildfires and airplane crashes don’t occur regularly. SDPD’s “police line” policy is antiquated and inadequate.

The San Diego Police Chiefs’ and Sheriff’s Association, we’re told, is reevaluating the policy. At its heart, this is a First Amendment issue, and we request that the association meet with representatives from the press to hash out a policy addressing both the media’s needs and law enforcement’s expectations.

We also request that SDPD issue press passes immediately to Dorian Hargrove of the San Diego Reader and to the staff of the San Diego Daily Transcript.

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