What Fresh Hell Is This?

June 9, 2015

More Fallout From Jennifer Graham's Transphobic Post-Gazette Column

This time it's a national news blog: jimromenesko.com.

In it we learn some very interesting things about the goings on at the P-G.  The first shocker was this:
Four Post-Gazette opinion section staffers read the column before it went to press, according to editorial page editor Tom Waseleski.
Four?!?!?!

One-Two-Three-FOUR?

Four opinion section staffers OKed that column?  Who are these people?  What were they checking on?  Spelling?  Punctuation?  Whether the publication of this piece would benefit the greater community?  I think I'd like to find out what they were OK-ing.

Then there's this from Tommy Waz, himself:
"No one raised questions about the column to me and I’m not aware of any discussion in which one or more of my colleagues argued against using it,” he says. “Our intern told me as he was leaving for the day that the column was sure to generate a reaction. I agreed that it would, but that’s nothing new at the Post-Gazette. We have a robust opinion section, and we’re used to strong reactions — from all points of the political compass — to various columns, editorials and editorial cartoons."
 But this is belied by the following:
In the newsroom, there was “a shitstorm,” according to one reporter. “The rank and file in the PG newsroom were incensed. There were murmurings of a byline strike by the Newspaper Guild until Graham was fired.”
So let's parse this.  The rank and file were "incensed" enough that there was a "shitstorm" and a threat of a byline strike but no one (except maybe a lowly intern) on Waseleski's staff even made a peep about it?

If, in fact, what Waseleski said was, you know, actually true, (and I guess we should take him at his word.) what does that say about the disconnect between those two groups?

Dennis Roddy (no lib'rul, he) is quoted in Romenesko's piece with an explanation of Graham's sins:
The problem was her language: still a “mister,” “freak show,” even the old trope about bathroom privileges. The rule has always been that it’s OK to draw a little blood from an equally matched opponent; not from the vulnerable. The transgender and gay communities might seem to enjoy dignified treatment on TV and in the movies, but in real life they end up being harassed, bullied, degraded and murdered. This column drew its blood from that population. That was the problem.
By the way, Tom Waseleski hasn't changed his mind about the column being "well written and worth publishing."  Romenesko quotes him as saying:
That is still my position. It is a strongly worded commentary that reflects a view that the columnist shares with others. Those who have contacted us, calling it hate speech, also speak for others and we’ve given them their say by printing responses that criticize the column and the Post-Gazette’s decision to use it.
Which is precisely the problem, I guess.  Given the above dispensation to discuss many sides of important issues of the day, when will we see columns defending:
  • Racial Discrimination?
  • Voter Disenfranchisement?
  • Minstrel Shows?
Note I am not talking about defending someone's right to hold such odious ideas (that's what the 1st Amendment is for), I'm talking about a column defending the use of white only water fountains, poll taxes and blackface make-up.  Given Waseleski's restructuring of the local market place of ideas, when are we going to see the P-G approve the publication of a column that contains this sentence: "There's a lott to say for the fact that if only we'd kept the voting public all straight white males,  we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

I mean if the P-G did let such a column pass through it's digestive tract, the reading public would still have the opportunity to write a letter to the editor disagreeing with it, right?


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