The Backpedaling Bee

Yesterday many writers, including our own Matt Welch, mocked a sophomoric voter-bashing post-election editorial in The Sacramento Bee. The mockery must have made a mark: The editors have replaced the article with a rather different commentary. The newspaper claims the first piece was posted in error, and that is was merely "a draft prepared for internal discussion among members of The Bee's editorial board."

Most of the reactions to this newsroom slapstick will probably focus on whether the paper's excuse is credible, so I'll skip past that and dive into the deeper issue: Both articles are unreadable in that special way that only an editorial composed by committee can be. Here's how the new one begins:

Good morning, members of the California Legislature. Good morning, Governor.

Feeling bruised and abused this morning? Well, you can't say you didn't see it coming. The polls have been saying for weeks that voters were going to do just what they did on Tuesday: Conclusively reject your slate on the ballot, Propositions 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D and 1E.

Today, on the morning after voters kicked around your best effort at fixing the state budget as if it were a deflated soccer ball, you face a decision.

The annoying affectation that they're directly addressing the political class, the quick collapse into clichés, the similes from hell (who kicks around a deflated soccer ball?) -- the whole article is like that. These tics are annoying enough in the hands of a metro columnist, but in the magniloquent tones of the Editorial Board they become unbearable. If newspapers are going to die, could they please do everyone a favor and kill off the unsigned opinion pieces first? They don't really represent the collective opinion of the paper's staff, and even if they did, no one cares what a newspaper as a corporate entity thinks. Skip the "internal discussion" within the "editorial board" and adopt a new rule: If you have a view to express, sign your name to it.

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  • Shannon Love||

    Today, on the morning after voters kicked around your best effort at fixing the state budget as if it were a deflated soccer ball, you face a decision. [emp added]

    Bodes ill for California if that is true.

    I think the original editorial reveals what they really think. The second editorial still contains subtle slights aimed at the voters:

    And it was too late to make your case to the voters, who were tuned out and disengaged, which is exactly how most of you wanted them.[emp added]

    Get it? The voters didn't support the new spending because they've tuned out and disengaged. Nothing insulting there! Just the suggestion that people we rejected new taxes did so purely out of emotion instead of a reasoned understanding of the dysfunctional nature of California political class.

    Maybe they should stop having editorial meetings that start with a round of congratulating themselves for being so damn smart while lamenting that everyone else is so damn dumb. Then they can make some headway.

  • JB||

    Those who work at the Bee are a bunch of gutless cowards. First they spew tripe and then they have the gall to lie and say that wasn't supposed to be published.

    I look forward to that newspaper going out of business and I hope people remember these cowards and don't hire them.

  • Paul||

    So now we know what the Bee's editorial board really feels, even if they never intended their readers to actually know.

  • ||

    They had it right the first time. California voters are responsible for their own mess. They have set requirements on everything from education spending to prison terms to agricultural land use to tax policy.

    The citizens of California have exactly what they have demanded at the ballot box. They have voted over and over again on issues about which they are completely ignorant and now they have a fine mess. Bully for them.

  • Cool Cal||

    I somehow picture the editorial staff chasing each other around the office to the music of Benny Hill.

  • ||

    Ticks are the things that your mom has to yank out of your ears with tweezers, as you know well from being a North Carolina kid, Jesse.

    Tics, on the other hand, are those annoying habits of metro columnists.

  • ||

    Us Fresnans knew all along that the Sacramentoians were full of crap. Although we're also stuck with a "Bee" paper.

  • ||

    One of the main reasons newspapers are dying is because you can find better writing on blogs all the time.

    I decided that years ago after reading a few of Maureen Dowd's columns, and they've only gotten worse since.

  • ||

    To be fair, the Fresno Bee is merely a pile of shit compared to the mountain of excrement that is the Sacramento Bee.

  • Civil Discourse||

    Hazel Meade

    So how's your mom doing? You wrote of her yesterday. Just curious.

  • ||

    Hazel, you can find better writing following the twitters of B-list movie stars.

  • ||

    Let's just have opinion writers. No collective opinions unless every writer signs them.

  • ||

    Civil Discourse:
    Well, my mom has alzheimer's now. It's improved our relationship tremendously. She doesn't remember who I am, so she no longer berates me for being an ungrateful daughter, and so forth.

  • TheExpatriate||

    I've never found the quality of newspaper writing to be particularly bad, quite frankly. I've always found Maureen Dowd, for example, amusing, even if she does occasionally steal her lines from other people.

    Personally, I could take or leave unsigned editorials. I fail to see how it is a big deal, other than from some bizarre desire to make virtually all public discourse resemble a blog.

    The fact is, when I do go online for news, I tend to go to established sources, such as the websites of the BBC, and of paper newspapers such as the NYT.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Tics fixed. Thanks.

  • no view to express, thanks||

    Both articles are unreadable illegible.

  • ||

    I dunno, Jesse. I thought the original

    These ticks small, bloodsucking arthropods are annoying enough in the hands of a metro columnist. . . .

    worked just fine. Good instance of RC'z Law.

  • Rich \"was never coming back b||

    Does that mean they're not reproducible?

  • Colin||

    The Bee respects the will of the voter. The Bee has always respected the will of the voter.

    Doubleplusgood.

  • ||

    The Cool Cals of the world should know that the theme music he mentioned was written by Boots Randolph and Spider Rich, and is called Yakety Sax.

    Mr. B. Hill neither wrote nor performed it.

    Kevin

  • ||

    Ticks are the things that your mom has to yank out of your ears with tweezers

    As Dave Barry used to say, 'politics' is a combo of the words 'poly', meaning 'many', and 'ticks', meaning "blood sucking insects".

  • ed||

    Good morning, members of the California Legislature. Good morning, Governor. Feeling bruised and abused this morning? Well, you can't say you didn't see it coming.

    Speaking of cliches, I'll take this time to mention that, upon reading that editorial, I threw up in my mouth a little. Thank you for your time.

  • ||

    The fact is, when I do go online for news, I tend to go to established sources, such as the websites of the BBC, and of paper newspapers such as the NYT.

    I will go to those sites for hard news, but their editorial content - and serious news analysis - is crap compared with the blogosphere.

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