Warner Todd Huston
Paper editor alters column to say writer is 'bitter conservative' that 'can't wish us well'
By Warner Todd Huston
February 4, 2009

This is why newspapers deserve to be buried in the dust bin of history, at least unless they clean up their act. For well over 20 years a southwest suburban Chicago newspaper called The Reporter has employed a columnist named Michael M. Bates. He has been the local conservative columnist for many years until, that is, his latest column on Barack Obama was altered to add malicious content aimed at the columnist by the paper's editor.

Bates was one of those conservatives (like myself) that wrote that he hoped that Obama would not succeed as president IF success meant that all sorts of socialist, unAmerican policies would be implemented. Bates was not wishing the president to fail except in implementing policies that Bates felt would be bad for America and even more to the point Bates was not saying he wished the U.S. as a whole ill. But it seems that "nuance" is not something that Bates' editor understands because the editor decided to add some things to Bates' column that Bates did not say.

Here was Bates' main point in the column:

    Support them in driving this country into the ground? If Obama delivers on his campaign promises, it'll be an unmitigated disaster. Good luck for him means bad luck for the United States.

Simply put and unmistakable. Bates wants the country to do well and Obama's bad policies to fail.

That wasn't clear enough for the editor of The Reporter, though. Initially Bates headlined his piece against Obama's policies "Count Me Out" (column can be seen here). The editor, however, decided to change the headline, a practice that is not uncommon in the Newspaper industry. The new headline became "Success for Obama would be disaster." Obviously a far more negative headline.

But the headline change wasn't the only alteration — nor the most egregious — that the editor made to the piece because a subhead was also tacked onto Bates' column. The added subhead read: "Bitter conservative can't wish U.S. well."

Amazingly, the editor decided that Bates was a "bitter conservative" and was one that couldn't "wish the U.S. well." But, that was not what Bates was saying at all. Bates was standing against Obama's bad policies. He wasn't wishing ill will on the entire United States!

Realize what happened here. An editor attacked his own columnist by adding headlines and subheads that the columnist did not write that portrays his own employee as an America hating, "bitter" conservative.

Worse, there is no way that the reader could be aware that this headline and the added subhead wasn't something that the writer wanted included in his column. To the casual reader, it looked as if Bates was calling himself a bitter conservative that wants the U.S. to fail!

What else can be said here? This editor, in print, without previously alerting the columnist, attacked his own employee , making him look as bad as possible.

Needless to say, columnist Bates has quit his job of over 20 years at The Reporter for being so badly treated. Who can blame him?

This is the sort of hate for conservatives that the Old Media is so steeped in, isn't it? And if this is how badly editors treat their own employees, no wonder they are so hateful against conservatives in the news!

© Warner Todd Huston


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Warner Todd Huston

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