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by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

Every time Bill O'Reilly uses the closing of newspapers as a rationale for liberalism as a loss revenue agent I wonder why he never uses the same generalization for the closing of any other business.

"The Folks just aren't buying from Circuit City anymore because of their pinhead liberal marketing tactics."

And it would just make as much sense.

This past week the home of my former weekly paycheck, The Los Angeles Daily News, offered an editorial by its oped editor, Mariel Garza explaining the rationale for the demise of newspaper sales. Keep in mind, this is a paper that ran my column for three years on the same Sunday opinion page as Bill's. Last year they concluded that the economic downturn led them to downsize their four-page Sunday opinion section to one and with it went my column. While I wrote mostly tongue-in-cheek, no one will ever claim me to be anything but liberal...though Bill has called me "crazy," which is a bit like the pride of being on Nixon's enemy list. Keep in mind the Daily News, the more conservative of the city's two major dailies, kept Bill's as well as Doug McIntyre's column -- Doug being a LA talk show host who was a regular fill-in host on O'Reilly's Radio Factor. So goes the Daily News being a liberal paper. Yet, the Daily News is suffering.

And here's a secret: It has little to do with its politics. So says Garza.

"Sure, there's always going to be people who stop reading a newspaper because they don't agree with the editorial position, but they're a small percentage of readership. The financial troubles of newspapers must seem like divine justice after having to watch the nation's Fourth Estate fawn over Obama and make fun of John McCain's every move. Fox commentator Bill O'Reilly could barely contain his glee over the news last month that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer would stop printing and go online-only. He declared that newspapers were finally getting their comeuppance for being so liberal. It's a good sound bite, and conservative pundits have milked it quite thoroughly. It's just not true."

Wow. Opining that the media sided with Obama yet not generalizing that into the one-note blame for the newspaper demise. Dare I say, "balance?"

"Yes, the nation's newspapers are feeling the economic downturn, just like the auto, retail, travel and any other industry that relies on people spending money. But while American newspapers might be losing money, they aren't losing readers. In fact, most online news sites are seeing record traffic, the L.A. Daily News included."

How many times did you hear Bill mention that?

Garza blames the demise not on the politics of a paper, but on the dire economy and the lack of foresight of the print media in dealing with Internet technology...that you can get near free.

"When the online revolution happened in the 1990s, newspapers, of course, got into the action and started publishing their content on their Web sites for free. The idea was that someday they would just shift the subscription-ad formula of making money from a paper product to online."

As of yet, getting people to pay for what they can get for free far outweighs their politics. Blaming a newspapers' fall solely on its politics is just as valid as hailing Fox News ratings success on its quality. Never have you heard Bill tell the Folks that on most cable/satellite packages you have to pay more to get MSNBC than you do to get Fox News, a network that comes with most basic programming.

The honesty of Garza and her courage take on O'Reilly, one of her syndicated columnists, shows actual balance, not the sloganeering that is Fox News. Will Bill slime Garza as he does most any newspaper writer who questions him when his column takes up precious space in a major metropolitan area paper. Time will tell, but if he does, I hope the Folks, many who read the Daily News, will respond in Garza's defense to say what needs to be said. Her view is neither liberal nor conservative. It is the no-spin truth backed up by the facts. Something that Bill might want to try.

Award-winning TV writer and author of Great Failures of the Extremely Successful, Steve Young was an original talk show host at L.A.'s KTLK and blogs at

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Albion Monitor   April 17, 2009   (

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