September 30, 2008 at 10:41 PM by Dr. Drang
…because its editors don’t want you to.
Yesterday, the Chicago Tribune ran the Kathleen Parker column that got all the attention at the end of last week. The one where she calls for Sarah Palin to drop out of the race for the good of the Republican ticket. I’d already read the article online, so I knew what it was all about and didn’t bother reading it again.
But if you didn’t know what it was about and if you were just skimming the editorial and op-ed pages at the back of Section 1, you’d have thought the column was praising Palin. Here’s how the paper edition of the Tribune presented it:
- The headline was “How Palin can save McCain.” Papers can put any headline they want on a syndicated column, and without question the column discusses how Palin can save McCain, but this headline doesn’t really tell you what the column’s about. Compare the cutesy *Tribune* headline with the unequivocal “The Palin Problem” headline given the column by the Washington Post Writers Group.
- The big pull quote set in large type next to the column is
Palin didn’t make a mess cracking the glass ceiling. She simply glided through it.This complimentary passage comes at the end of Parker’s “I really wanted Palin to succeed” portion of the column. It’s not representative of the column’s thesis.
- Above the pull quote is a caricature of Palin: the hair, the glasses, the wide jaw, the big smile. At worst, a neutral cartoon that, like the headline and the pull quote, tells you nothing about the contents of the column.
I imagine many readers skipped the column. They saw the three items above and the Parker byline and decided it was another supportive column from a pretty reliable Republican voice. By putting the column in a bland, misleading context, the Tribune was trying to keep its readers in the dark about Parker’s jump from the Palin bandwagon. I’m not sure this was what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they gave us a free press.
It’s no secret that the Tribune is a Republican paper; it’s never endorsed a Democrat for president. There’s been speculation that it’s editorial board might change its tune this year, what with Obama being a local guy and McCain being so openly dishonest. But this obvious attempt to make Parker’s column look favorable to Palin tells me the Tribune will keep the ghost of Col. McCormick—and its stereotypical suburban white collar subscribers—happy and go for the Republican one more time.