Brian Birdnow

Last week the venerable St. Louis-Post-Dispatch, a once great American newspaper, proved that she is but a shell of her former self. The PD has a long and generally distinguished history including launching the career of Joseph Pulitzer in the 1880s, and in scooping all of the major papers on the disastrous sinking of the RMS Titanic in April of 1912. Today, the PD is the sole daily newspaper in a major metropolitan area, and, as such has no competition to push her to improve and to stay at the top of her game. This column does not however, deal with the beauty of competition and its importance to the free enterprise system. Rather, it deals with the hazards of a single newspaper exercising an editorial monopoly over a major metropolitan area. These hazards include a refusal to engage in reasoned debate, a constant tendency to assassinate the character of those who disagree with them, regularly accusing their opponents of low motives, insisting that their own country has a deplorable history, and, all the while, preening and showing off their own supposed moral superiority.

Simply stated, the PD mouths all of the platitudes common to the American Left, and has become nothing more than a shill for the national Democratic Party. Furthermore, in a manner reminiscent of our dear national leader, the newspaper will not engage in any discourse on current issues. They simply say that the issue has been decided and you are one of the good people or one of the bad people. Their coverage of the Obamacare fiasco is a case in point. The PD declined to do any reportorial work of their own on the issue, and simply accepted White House talking points. Their stock answer to any claims about the effect the ACA was having on real people was to dismiss all of these as “…lies, easily debunked.” Worse yet, the PD actually plagiarized when they reported Washington Post commentator Eugene Robinson’s words, verbatim, in a PD editorial without attribution. This author called them on their journalistic malpractice, and Tony Messenger, the newspaper editor stated that this was not plagiarism, because “…many smart people think this is true, ergo there is nothing wrong with repeating it.” A great newspaper, indeed!

Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.

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