The Oklahoman announces its becoming even more irrelevant…

Here’s some news that brings a swarmy smile to my face!

Yesterday afternoon, The Oklahoman – the state’s most trusted source of right-wing propaganda –  announced that after a century of only endorsing conservative candidates for public office, they will stop issuing political endorsements all together as opposed to endorsing an actual Democrat.

Well, basically…

Opinion: Getting out of the political endorsement business

Throughout its long history, The Oklahoman has made it a point to endorse candidates for political office, whether for local races such as mayor or national offices such as president or Congress. That practice is ending this year.

This decision was not made lightly. We both understand, and respect, the historical role of endorsements from the newspaper’s editorial board. The reality, however, is that it is time to change course.

Yep, that’s right. Instead of falling on the conservative sword they’ve been sharpening since the early 1900s and endorsing Joe Biden over Donald Trump, The Oklahoman is just doing away with endorsements altogether. Basically, they’re taking their ball of propaganda and going home. You have to love it.

Of course, The Oklahoman won’t admit to that being the reason why they’re doing away with endorsements. In a nod to the mental gymnastics the paper would pull over the years when it would endorse a right-wing conservative candidate over a more qualified moderate or liberal opponent, the paper tried to spin the decision as logical and rational.

Here’s more:

A primary reason is that this newspaper no longer has full editorial board. For decades it did, composed of the editorial writers and the top brass who would meet with candidates during election seasons, then discuss those meetings and come to a consensus on who, or whether, to endorse. This was the norm until October 2018 when The Oklahoman was sold, resulting in the departure of several board members.

For six months after that, two editorial writers and our editor comprised the board. Today, just the two of us remain.

That doesn’t make any sense. As a one-man editorial board myself, I find it’s a lot easier to impose your will and political agenda when you have fewer people involved in the process.

Another consideration was, how much sway do endorsements really have? We could list any number of candidates or issues this page has supported through the years who wound up succeeding, but also a sizeable number on the other side of the ledger. Perhaps the best example of the latter was the page’s support in 2005 for an increase in the state’s gasoline tax — 87% of voters rejected the idea, the widest margin of defeat for any state question in Oklahoma history.

That’s bullshit. Although their effectiveness has been minimized due to the fall of newspapers, endorsements definitely have sway. For example, I could always turn to The Oklahoman editorial page, see who they’re endorsing, and then know to vote the exact opposite. Hell, sometimes you didn’t even have to turn it to the editorial page! You could just look on the front page of the paper and the editorial would be right there at the top, totally mixed in with the real news coverage.

A third reality is that right or wrong, endorsements can make it more difficult for our reporters. Although the opinion page and the news section are separate entities, it is easy for public officials to lump the two together and hold the views written on this page against the men and women trying to cover those officials.

Look at that! The Oklahoman finally cares about the tough spot editorials can put their reporters in. That only took 110 years or so to figure out. I’m sure the few remaining reporters at the paper are appreciative of that.

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47 Responses

  1. As someone who used to work at the paper until leaving amid one of the early purges, I’ll say that a lot of journalists and journalists’ reporting is unbiased despite the editorial boards leaning. And journalists do get unfairly painted with a broad brush because of talking heads and editorial boards’ decisions.

    Most of the time, when I hear people claim they want “unbiased reporting” or “just the facts” what they really want are people that will agree with their own point of view. That’s why heavily biased sources became popular, because most people lie through their teeth when they claim that they only want the truth, or even that it matters to them.

    1. Apart from the slant of any particular news story, any news organization displays a slant just by the very stories it chooses to cover. There are radioactive subjects that nobody touches, and then there are subjects that tend to favor certain viewpoints over others. Even “House fire in West Anywhere” types of stories demonstrate a slant just by the vast array of other stories they displace in the limited space and time the news organization has.

      1. That is true, what gets covered is really dependent on what’s going on in a particular day and there is an inherent hierarchy on what will get cut and what will get the most play.

        But, really, the biggest slant in choosing what gets the most play isn’t political, it’s financial. They are companies, after all, and they’re writing most for their subscribers (as you said, limited space and time). It’s impossible to cover every crime equally, and most reporters are juggling four or five stories in a particular day.

        To me, it’s the same thing about people complaining about how things are made in China and not the US. The market is there if you want to buy American, but if you are just going to Walmart or getting the cheapest thing off Amazon, you don’t really have a complaint there.

        1. Four or five? I used to think that having to do two stories a day was brutal!

          That said, I haven’t worked as a full-time newsman since 2003. I’d imagine a lot has changed in nearly 20 years.

    2. “what they really want are people that will agree with their own point of view.”

      I think there’s a lot of truth in that statement, although most everyone will say they’d like to hear both sides of the story for a change.

      It can be a complicated world and trying to decipher the news enough to get to what you assume is the truth in order to calculate where you stand on things, can be a real process.
      “Who’s got time for that!?”

      So consequently, I think people eventually take the easier path
      of taking one side or the other (Left or Right) and that way you don’t have to burden yourself as much with decision making.

      And to ease your conscience as to whether or not you’re thinking responsibly and being a good citizen, all you have to do is tune into the commercialized like-minded thinkers to reassure yourself that you’re the good guy who’s fighting for the Greater Good.

      It’s pretty screwed up, but still it amazes me how smoothly humankind runs in the overall scheme of things, considering how many people there are, how easily terrorism could start and so forth …… just all kinds of things could go wrong.
      It makes me think that the only explanation for it is that there must be a whole lot more ‘good’ people than ‘bad’ and that it all works out (for the most part) in the end, despite what team they’re on.

      1. Good comment.
        I believe there are more good people. It’s sometimes hard to keep that belief when dealing with the general populace but most people are just trying to get through the day and do right by their loved ones.
        The whole taking sides thing is detrimental to real progress.
        It seems like half the country just wants to fight the other half and it feels like there is true hate from both sides .
        Destroyed from within…

        When you realize that neither “side” really cares about the rank and file and are only in it to enrich themselves it frees you up to concentrate on the things that matter.
        I wouldn’t cross the street to meet a politician but I’d work my ass off to help my neighbor with his fence.

      2. Honestly, my initial reaction to people saying they want both sides is usually “no, you don’t.” But to give people the benefit of the doubt, I think part of the problem is two sides is what our political system distills life in to, but it’s a way too simplistic interpretation of the world and just lulls people to thinking everything is black or white.

        Most issues are way more complex than that. Look at any discussion on the economy in politics and it distill down to “Socialism is evil and always leads to communism and capitalism is what God gave mankind!!!” and “Capitalism has led to every suffering ever and has destroyed everything and only evil Nazi’s are capitalists” and both of those are categorically wrong. The economy isn’t a coin with capitalism on one end and communism on the other, it’s a 20-sided-dice where every decision can lead to short-term and long-term impacts that we may not even see in our life time. There’s no way we can distill this into “hurr, taxes bad, you’re only poor if you’re lazy!!” and “eat the rich!” and have it actually be informative, or even educational for a person unless they really want to spend a significant amount of time diving deep into reality, which most people don’t. And, honestly, that’s how the vast majority of issues are. Yes, there are some things I do think are black and white that the two main parties differ in, but most of the time? It’s way too complicated and neither side has a good answer to everything.

        That attitude has really caused a lot of the disgust and hatred of the media, and I think most journalists get unfairly saddled with it. Every outlet can have really good reporters, even the Oklahoman had some good ones, but they get weighed down with decisions made by people way above their pay grade (and journalists by and large are paid absolute crap). Most reporting is as neutral as possible in scope, but talking heads and politicians put a political spin on it and news suffers as a result.

        1. Journalists could start by explaining to the general public the difference between actual journalism and “opinion” journalism, ie. Fox News.
          True journalists find their job much more difficult in a society who have developed a maximum 15 second attention span.

          1. Confirmation bias is a powerful thing. That’s why opinion journalism is more popular. It doesn’t matter what journalists tell people, the internet has given people way more power to discredit trained experts. That’s why people still believe the Clinton’s are personally offing people.

            Fox News does have slanted editorials, like every major news network, but even they have some good journalists who do good work and shouldn’t be discounted just because of their employer.

      3. I think the attitude that there is a “both sides” to every story is a big part of the problem, to be honest. You’re right, the world is complicated, and it’s honestly next to impossible to distill complex issues like the economy or crime into a text book, much less a 12 inch news story.

        You look at economic discussions here and it usually boils down to “capitalism is evil and the cause of all the problems and democratic socialism is the only way to save the world and we need to eat the rich!” and “socialism is communism and you’re only poor if you’re lazy and make bad decisions and if you hate capitalism you’re a God-hating Nazi!!” and those two views are just categorically wrong and ridiculous. It’s not a coin, it’s a twenty-sided dice and each result on every throw will lead to a result that has short term and long term consequences that we can barely even start to imagine.

        And most issues are like that. Being a truly informed voter is pretty impossible. I think that’s what gives people such a bad perception of the media. They want this nebulous “both sides” thing on all stories when it doesn’t exist, so they go to outlets that basically fabricate another side (usually making it inept or evil based on their political ideologies), and journalists get weighed down by the anchor created by people several pay grades above them. The Oklahoman had some good reporters, and most of what you would find in the paper was about as unbiased as you can possibly write. But the editorial staff created a problem that gets all of the journalists unfairly painted with a broad brush.

        1. “I think the attitude that there is a “both sides” to every story is a big part of the problem.”

          It definitely is. When the consensus of science says one thing, and opposing ideology says the opposite, there really aren’t two sides to the discussion. But there are enough people who want their their ideological point of view validated that media tends to pander to them. Eyeballs and subscriptions matter.

        2. A truly informed voter is really a difficult thing to find these days. More people in the U.S. believe in astrology than in the science of evolution. Many can’t name the three branches of government. Many don’t know the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. A significant portion do not accept the age of the earth as being in the billions of years rather than thousands. A group of millions of U.S. citizens, including a candidate for president, follow the teachings of a con artist named Joseph Smith, who said he received his holy book from an angel, which he translated by sticking his head in a hat. Most have no conception that the amount of carbon dioxide released in the air when you burn one of the fossil fuels is known, and that therefore the amount of overall CO2 thereby released worldwide can be calculated pretty accurately. They do not know that science has established for decades how this CO2, and other molecules, reflects heat.
          Some do not know that there never was a time when there were dragons and humans walking around together. Many never learned who fought WWII.
          A whole buttload believe that the Civil War was not about slavery. Almost nobody has heard anything about the depletion of aquifers like the Ogallala. They believe the earth can sustain an infinite amount of humans. They think someone walked on water and was born of a virgin.
          Oh, and a bunch of the people that show up at the Shit Gibbon’s rallies believe that an unholy cabal of Democrats fuck children and then eat them.
          I don’t know how to “inform” these folks.

          1. And a lot of people believe that a supreme court justice’s (unconfirmed) dying wish is above what’s actually written in the constitution.

            1. Nice Day is not one of their number, but he is betting that Auntie was once, on lofty grounds, vehement in its support for the stone-walling of any confirmation hearing in the last 10 months of Obama’s term, but now, on equally lofty grounds, thinks the current proceedings are justified.

            2. Nice day is, once again, incorrect.

            3. They don’t, they just want people to follow the same rules that they loudly screamed and proclaimed the last time we were in this situation.

              Or they’re just up for calling out hypocrites for being shameless.

            4. In other words, politicians going to politician. Dems are being just as hypocritical.

            5. Challenging someone to play by the rules they claim mattered so much a few years ago is a little less hypocritical and a little more forcing them to explain theirs (which, of course, they can’t really do).

              But yes, it’s politicians going to politic.

            6. Weren’t the dems yelling to confirm when there was an opening also?

            7. They were. Then Republicans tried to set the rule that you can’t in an election year. Then Republicans decided that you can actually rush one through faster than ever and Democrats are pointing out that Republicans are hypocrites and are playing the same game.

              So they’re not taking the high road, but they’re doing it because Republicans like to play Calvinball with politics.

            8. Again, dems would’ve been doing exactly the same thing if they had control of the presidency/Senate right now. Ginsberg should’ve stepped down under Obama to avoid the drama. How about them rhymes!

            9. Seven hard right Catholics on the Supreme Court in a country with no more than a 20% Catholic population – most of those much less conservative than the justices. I don’t know what that says about us, but it is damn peculiar.
              Auntie doesn’t have to feel compelled to respond to this, if it is too busy studying up for its Russian bot exams.

  2. So I guess the six remaining subscribers have to watch Kelly Ogle now for guidance in voting.

    1. Make that 5, I canceled my subscription!

  3. I’d like to think the remaining members no longer had the stomach to endorse Trumpists (Republican party demise started in the 1980s, expired in 2016 – last published national party platform). I’d like a pony too.

    I guess the political ads don’t pay as much as they used too, tweeting like a fool is more cost effective. No pesky editing for content or truth required or even contemplated.

  4. It’s like your crazy uncle finally decided to stop his inane mutterings about Trump, QAnon, etc., but refuses to admit he was wrong and that Democrats are the only grownups in the room.

    1. “… Democrats are the only grownups in the room.”

      Auntie appreciates this attempt at satire. Gave her some nice belly laughs this afternoon. Thank you, Bobby!

      1. Nice Day thought Auntie possessed more of a maw than a belly.

        1. Auntie loves her some beer. Nice day has been known to be wrong before.

          1. Well, Auntie, that is so true. Just the other day Nice Day was thinking how glad he was that Osama bin Laden was dead, and now he finds out that that ol’ bugger isn’t dead at all! Doesn’t that kinda get Auntie’s belly all in a twist, just a little bit, in between the belly laughs?

  5. If TLO hadn’t covered it, almost no one would even know. And very of those would care. The paper is long past being relevant, so being dead wrong most of the time doesn’t even matter.

  6. E. K. and Eddie Gaylord must be spinning in their respective graves. Without nutty editorials and extreme right-wing slant, is it still the Oklahoman?

    No, of course it isn’t. The Oklahoman’s remains have been passed around and abandoned a couple of times since the Gaylord Era.

    This is most likely a smart business decision. Making political endorsements in these polarized times is a good way to piss off a big chunk of your remaining subscribers. Maybe as many as half.

    Like it or not, OKC has actually done some fairly progressive things in the recent past, including the MAPS program and electing a Democratic congresswoman. These are things that would have infuriated the Gaylords. Has this happened because people have more sources of information than they did when the Gaylord Oracle was the only game in town, and led public opinion around by its nose? I think so.

  7. You mean they are still publishing that fish wrap????? Who knew!!!!!

    1. Referring to “The Daily FASCIST / NAZIhoman” as fish wrap is an insult to the fish!

  8. That rag has been nothing more than bird cage liner since it’s inception. The old man was a contemptuous sleeze bag and his kid was worse. We can all thank the Gaylord family for keeping Oklahoman’s as ignorant and misguided as possible until the day they sold the paper.

  9. The Oklahoman, much like most of its subscriber base, is dead.

    The Sports desk would be best to spin off their column writing to their own personal blog page-website. Their content is still worth reading, but not worth picking up the paper for.

    Local municipal and state government news is better covered by several independents (Frontier, Oklahoma Watch).

    Lackmeyer’s OKC coverage is usually taken from other local sources and rewritten to appear like his own original work. Or the few local connections he has will feed him info in a press release fashion that he changes up a few words of using a thesaurus and prints.

    It’s amazing that we have finally reached the point that this formerly powerful institution in the state (that has probably hurt more people than it has helped) is near death. Sure, they will try to retort how they have been part of the community fabric and are integral to it, but sorry, they’re not and we will be in a better place once they are gone.

  10. I’m old enough to remember an article about a gay comedian’s national coming-out tour that was edited by top newsroom management to remove the word “gay” and anything else that would indicate homosexuality. You’d think that kind of kid-glove treatment would be saved for investigative journalism. Guess they had nothing better to do.

  11. Do you mean there were actual ‘news’ stories in that rag??
    All I ever saw was page after page (after page) of ads.

    1. You were wise to skip the editorial and op-ed pages.

  12. I can’t be the only one that noticed they decided to ditch endorsements when Abby Broyles sent out a campaign mailer proudly proclaiming that The Oklahoman did not endorse Jim Inhofe for the first time in years and years. That’s even mentioned in the editorial (at least when I read it yesterday, no telling if they’ve edited it since then). I’m not knocking Abby here (in fact, I already voted for her and hand-delivered my absentee ballot to my county Election Board about a week or so back), but it was kind of a misleading mailer–true, The Oklahoman didn’t endorse Jim Inhofe, whoopee! The punch line: They didn’t endorse Abby either. They endorsed no one and that’s how it’s gonna be, whatever.

    It’s chickenshite, really. Now, I read The Oklahoman — if only to keep up with what my enemies are thinking …

  13. I stopped reading that butt wipe parchment years ago, when Frosty Troy revealed owner Eddie Gaylord’s racist edict…. “No photos of ni**ers on page one”.

  14. Geeze, complaining about something from 15 year ago, like 15 years ago was yesterday, just shows you just how out of touch The Oklahoman is right now. Let’s see, 15 years ago, You Tube only had 5 total videos, 3 of them of were cats, The Facebook was just for college students, Instagram didn’t exist, and My Space was a place where Xers were rediscovering old friends and young Millennials were learning how to live their lives on social media. Today, in 2020, you can do everything from learning how to cook to radicalizing yourself to the point of becoming the next Timothy McVeigh on any conspiracy theory of your choice on You Tube, My Space is basically an abandoned amusement park with a still active music venue inside said park, and Facebook/Instagram reinforces which political tribe/nation that you, your family, and friends belong to. Unlike 2005, in 2020, if there’s disagreements in your social media life, they extend to your personal life as well to the point where Thanksgiving is either spent where everyone agrees that Tucker Carlson is so in touch with the American people, or you’re at the only restaurant in town that’s open on Thanksgiving with your friends celebrating “Friendsgiving” where everyone agrees that Tucker Carlson is a POS and Tucker is poisoning the elder members of your family.

  15. years ago when I worked at a newspaper people would claim my reporting was “biased” and stuff like that. I asked them to point out something in the story that was “biased”. They couldn’t. They just assumed it was biased.

  16. The rag sucks. Their sports page sucks, their entertainment section sucks, their editorials suck, it’s one of the worst newspapers i have ever read.

    Interestingly, and somewhat ironically, they have a pretty good comic section.

    1. I remember them claiming to be one of the only papers in the US that printed full-color comics every day…

  17. No one here has mentioned the ownership change. They’ve only been owned by Gannett since November of last year. This is their first election under Gannett ownership.

    Gannett is cheap, but they’re fair. They aren’t going to select stories based on a political agenda. They’re going to select stories based on how cheaply they can cover them.

    And, may God help us, that’s an improvement over what we had.

  18. This article needs a follow-up. Looks to me like they were trying to opt-out of endorsing Joe Biden. Because here they are putting their two cents into the state questions:

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