The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, so it’s hardly shocking that the children of a journalist would prefer President Barack Obama’s re-election, but instead of being embarrassed by such stereotype-confirming views, Al Neuharth embraced them and decided to follow their advice in casting his vote – as if there were any doubt.
In his weekly column back on Friday, November 9, the 88-year-old founder of USA Today recounted how his six adopted kids, ranging in ages from 12 to 21, all supported Obama, including “Rafi, 12,” who “said Romney wants to ‘take from the poor and give to the rich’” and “Ariana, 14,” who “said if Romney wins, she wants to leave the USA and move to her second favorite country -- the Netherlands.”
“When Newsweek was owned by the Washington Post, it was predictably left-wing, but it was accurate,” Neuharth observed before slamming the new owner/editor who picked a picture to make Bachmann look crazy: “Under Tina Brown, it is an inaccurate and unfair left-wing propaganda machine.”
On Wednesday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in commenting on USA Today's poor decision to quote a paragraph from a New York Times op-ed by former Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) -- a bad decision because Kanjorski's call for "civility" directly contrasts with his call for someone to shoot Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott just a few months ago -- I wrote that USAT Founder Al Neuharth's "'civility' credentials are also suspect."
Two days later, Neuharth, who claims to be "independent," more than justified those suspicions. In a "Plain Talk" item in Friday's paper ("Who shares blame in Tucson tragedy?"), Neuharth blamed a wide range of people for Jared Loughner's actions. "Somehow," he forgot to blame Jared Laughner. It's not a stretch to assert that many readers would be justified in believing that Neuharth may not even want to see Loughner convicted of a crime.
Neuharth took shots at talkers on the right and left. USAT published an absolutely laughable counter-response from MSNBC President Phil Griffin. The other response (from the right? Are you kidding?) was from a psychiatry prof.
Here is Neuharth's piece and its responses (published in their entirety because of their relative brevity; bolds are mine):
The folks at USA Today really ought to vet their candidates for the "Et Cetera -- Smart insights on the news of the day" section of the print edition of its editorial page a bit more thoroughly.
Wednesday morning's opener in that section (apparently not available online) featured two paragraphs from a New York Times op-ed by former Pennsylvania Congressman Paul Kanjorski, including this final sentence:
Therefore, it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation.
As I noted yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog; original HT Mark Hemingway at the Washington Examiner), Kanjorski's entitlement to lecture on civility is more than a little suspect, given what he said about Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott and the health insurance industry last year:
USA Today founder Al Neuharth used his weekly column on Friday to ridicule Rush Limbaugh, marking the 22nd anniversary of Limbaugh’s national radio show by denouncing the conservative talk titan for “ludicrous” assertions and deriding him for having “the best comedy show on radio.”
In the column titled “Limbaugh anniversary is a laughing matter,” Neuharth condescendingly maintained: “I'm not a regular Limbaugh listener because on most days when he peddles his diatribe, I'm busy doing something worthwhile.” But on a recent “long auto trip” he tuned in and heard “laughables,” scolding Limbaugh for making anti-Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton “cojones” quips. So, he then recommended:
For the dog days of August, I suggest you have a portable radio with you in your car, on the beach or park outings. Laughing at Limbaugh will make all that more fun.
Katie Couric accepted the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Media on Thursday night at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion (population 9,765). Not everyone welcomed her award.
In the student newspaper The Volante, liberal columnist David Whitesock argued she didn’t have enough experience to deserve a lifetime achievement award, and her interviews with pop stars like Norah Jones aren’t serious. Journalists aren’t left-wing enough, he thinks, and Lara Logan deserved an award (for lifetime achievement?) more than Katie:
Journalism is on life support, and the media’s complicit relationship with government evidences distrust from the public. For fear of not getting the scoop, major news networks rarely challenge the government. A year and a half passed before the media realized they were giving President Bush a pass after his invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s hardly ironic that Congress wants to bailout the media; they’ll lose their mouthpiece.
The current “money mess” is “primarily because we've spent or authorized more money on the Iraq war (its sixth anniversary is next Thursday) than we're putting into the stimulus program,” USA Today founder Al Neuharth contended in his weekly “Plain Talk” column on Friday. While “many Democrats as well as nearly all Republicans in Congress gave Bush” the authority to go to war in Iraq, “by contrast, the votes on President Obama's recovery or stimulus plan to clean up the mess that Congress helped create with the Iraq misadventure” were not so bi-partisan.
After citing how 246 Democrats House Democrats, but zero Republicans, and 56 Democratic Senators, but only three Republicans, voted for the “stimulus” package, Neuharth scolded Republicans: “Both parties got us into this mess, but only one is trying to get us out of it.”
In his weekly Friday column confusingly titled “Media should offer Bush a mea culpa,” USA Today founder Al Neuharth contended “many of us in the media owe a mea culpa to Bush -- and to you -- for failing to properly inform” him and the public “of the possible consequences” of Bush's “major misdeeds.” We've lacked enough critiques of Bush policies? Bush, Neuharth condescendingly opined, “simply did not understand much of what he did as the self-proclaimed 'decider'” and “he listened too much to his two worst advisers, Vice President Cheney and the forgotten former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.”
He scolded journalists for having “failed to warn” of the Iraq “ mistake” and for how “most journalists (including me) failed to warn adequately what the credit card craze and home buying binge might lead to. Bush couldn't comprehend it.” Thus, “many of us in the media owe a mea culpa to Bush -- and to you -- for failing to properly inform of the possible consequences of those major misdeeds.”
“People who elect a new President are eager for the change to take place. The sooner the better,” USA Today founder Al Neuharth argued in his Friday column in which he asked, coincidentally just a week-and-a-half after Barack Obama's election: “Why wait until late January to turn the Oval Office over to a new President elected in early November?” He proposed: “We should move the President's inauguration up to the first Tuesday in December, one month after the election.” After all, “the time lag” is “too long in these modern times when crises need the earliest possible attention.”
President Bush's gracious hosting of President-elect Barack Obama at the White House this week raises this simple but important question: Why wait until late January to turn the Oval Office over to a new president elected in early November?...
Neuharth claimed that today's newspapers play the news straight, while in the "olden days" they didn't.
Put down all drinks before reading (bolds are mine):
Fewer newspapers try to dictate votes Plain Talk by Al Neuharth
More newspaper bosses across the USA have wised up to the fact that you readers are smart enough to decide who to vote for in Tuesday's election. Newspapers making presidential editorial endorsements this year likely will be the lowest percentage ever. Editor & Publisher, the trade journal, compiles the numbers.
USA Today founder Al Neuharth suggested in his weekly column for the paper on Friday that, as the 1936 Olympics in Berlin preceded the rise of the German democracy and the 1980 Olympics in Moscow preceded Russia's move toward democracy, the Olympic games this year in Beijing “will bring 1.3 billion closer” to the end of communism. In the “Other Views” below Neuharth's column, Foundation for Defense of Democracies journalist in residence Claudia Rossett scoffed at Neuharth's naive romanticism which discounted the role of America's efforts:
Progress in Germany and Russia had nothing to do with the Olympics, and everything to do with the U.S. fighting for freedom in two global conflicts: World War II and the Cold War. America didn't win by playing ping-pong.
Neuharth had contended:
Nazi Germany hosted the Games in Berlin in 1936. Now that country is one of the world's proudest democracies. Communist Moscow was the host city in 1980. Now Russia has moved close to true democracy, although it's not quite there yet. This is not a prediction that communism will disappear from China quickly. But betcha the Olympic Games will bring 1.3 billion closer to that goal. So China and the world will win. Ping-pong might even become a global pastime.
Regretting that “few grownups are concerned about the $526 billion cost so far for the Iraq war without end” because “President Bush and his rich buddies have made sure most of the monetary burden will be borne by our children and grandchildren,” USA Today founder Al Neuharth, in his weekly column on Friday, recommended “a stiff income tax surcharge” to pay for the war. But Neuharth made clear his real motive is to turn those for the war against it:
The surest way to jar us into realizing the unconscionable cost of the Iraq debacle is to impose a stiff income tax surcharge to pay for it. If we did that, most hawks would become doves overnight.
Neuharth hailed Abraham Lincoln for imposing an income tax to pay for the Civil War and stressed how the current rates in the U.S. “are below those of other major countries. France, Germany, Great Britain and Japan all assess higher rates. The Netherlands' top rate is 52% and Sweden's is 60%.”
In his weekly Friday column, USA Today founder Al Neuharth hailed Fidel Castro for how “he outfoxed 10 consecutive U.S. Presidents” and, recalling a meeting with him 20 years ago, Neuharth wrote that he found him “brilliantly briefed” with a “quick, slick comment” after Neuharth told him that profits from Gannett’s other papers subsidized losses at USA Today: “Aha, your company and my country are both socialistic!” Neuharth’s reaction to the oppressive communist dictator's contention:
I paused, said “touche” and lifted a glass of Cuban rum. Then we talked capitalism and socialism and sports until 3:55 a.m.
USA Today founder Al Neuharth (file photo at right), who in February blustered that George W. Bush should be "planted firmly at the top" of the list of the worst U.S. presidents, reportedly dressed up as Jesus Christ --crown of thorns and all-- at a dinner with USA Today senior staff in the newspaper's infancy.
The October 25 Washington Post "The Reliable Source" column relayed the account by newspaper publisher Cathie Black, as found in her memoir "Basic Black" (emphasis mine):
"Al Neuharth was sitting at the table, dressed in a robe, a crown of thorns perched atop his graying head.