Friday, December 3, 2010

Why Is The Oklahoman Picking This Fight?

The Oklahoman is out with yet another editorial (that's at least three in recent days) today chiding those arch-conservative legislators who believe voters are as concerned about "social issues" as they are about anything else, and the newspaper's outburst begs the question: Why is The Oklahoman picking this fight?

By Mike McCarville

The easy answer, the arch-conservatives say, is that the newspaper and its editorial board have gone liberal after years as a conservative bastion. Their added clue: The newspaper has no use for two Republicans elected to statewide office, dismissively describing them as "politicians" while completely ignoring the political connections of their Democrat opponents (whom the newspaper endorsed). 

There's no argument that the newspaper is no longer what it once was in the editorial sense. Long dependable as a Republican-supportive voice, it now seems intent on targeting some Republicans and, by design or by default, driving wedges between GOP legislators.

The newspaper has long targeted Rep. Randy Terrill of Moore, whom it clearly dislikes and, by extension, it is now going after anyone who appears to agree with Terrill, and that appears to include a growing number.

From today's editorial: ...Two men who are always focused on those issues are concerned that growth will be negatively affected by legislation considered to be extreme in other parts of the country, such as the anti-Sharia law initiative passed by voters last month.

Roy Williams and Mike Neal, chamber of commerce heads in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, know that negative publicity hurts industry recruitment — whether it's publicity about the lack of lawsuit and workers' comp system reform or about nativist legislation.

At times, principle must guide us in doing what we think is right, regardless of the consequences. An example is the negative press Oklahoma gets for its strong support for and frequent use of capital punishment.

But when the agenda is wrapped in platitudes and tied with a nativist bow — the Sharia law measure is an example — the state is offering an empty box that the nation will return to sender filled with scorn.

There are those who would argue that "principle must guide us in doing what we think is right" accurately describes the very legislators The Oklahoman denigrates.

To assert that we should wince at the "negative press" the state allegedly gets elsewhere for "its strong support for and frequent use of capital punishment" demonstrates that the air in The Oklahoman's ivory tower has become quite cloudy. Since when is what nanny-state liberals think of us important? Would The Oklahoman's editorial writers have us turn Democrat-Blue to appease others? Would The Oklahoman's editorial writers prefer that all news that isn't "good" be banned in Oklahoma?

There's no question The Oklahoman has been an important part of Oklahoma's history and its progress, and it has demonstrated a strong editorial voice most often on target.

 Seldom in the past, however, has the newspaper so openly sought to pick a fight and thus ensure that a divisive controversy it wants to silence will only grow louder.

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