Thursday, February 26, 2009

Imagine There Is No Courant

Let’s say you start off with a chair, then you remove the left forward leg, then you remove the seat, then you remove the backrest – do you any longer have a chair?

Some people would answer “No.”

The Hartford Courant, under the inspiration of current owner Sam Zell, a real estate poobah who has no intellectual or emotional connection to the people of Connecticut, now has dumped a major political reporter, Mark Pazniokas, the paper’s Washington Bureau chief, Jesse Hamilton, its Religion Reporter, Elizabeth Hamilton, a business reporter, Robin Stansbury, a handful of greenies -- environment reporter David Funkhouser, Steve Grant and Anna Marie Somma -- sportswriter Matt Eagan, itowns editor Loretta Waldman and itowns reporter Nancy Lastrina, two administrative assistants, a couple of feature copy editors and a library staffer and researcher.

The Courant previously has shed staff through attrition and early retirement. The latest round of bodies were shot behind the curtain, so to speak, the dispossessed receiving their pink slips by e-mail.

After all these removals, do we any longer have a Courant?

The schadenfreuders in the paper’s commentary section were steaming with barely suppressed pleasure now that the “liberal’ Courant was breathing its last breath, one commentator writing that the paper’s demise was owing to an excess of toxic liberal opinion, which is partly true.

Here, for example, is the Courant’s present take on obstructive Republicans: “Congress will be his [President Barack Obama’s] biggest problem. It is far behind the president and the people. The Republican minority relies on the tired nostrums of tax cuts and deregulation that helped dig this hole in the first place.”

Truth here is wonderfully mixed with fantasy. It is true that Congress, a viper’s pit of special interests, will present a problem for any president who wants to control costs. It is not true that Republican Party's “nostrums of tax cuts and deregulation… helped dig this hole in the first place.”

The hole, by which the paper must mean the current business collapse, was not caused by tax cuts. It was caused by the unregulated housing bubble. And it was Republicans – as the video below shows – who were demanding that Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae should be regulated.

Here are the Dems defending the non-regulation of Fannie and Freddy:

In an age in which YouTube is but a mouse click away, it becomes less and less possible to slip by the public such Democratic nostrums as those presented on the Courant’s Editorial Page. President John Kennedy, to whom President Obama has sometimes been compared, relied on the tired notion of tax cuts to “lift all the boats” on the rising tide caused by his selective tax cuts. And President Kennedy was no tired and exhausted Republican.

Part of the fun in having a liberal paper that seems to have fallen prey to nostrums far older that those of President Kennedy – FDR preceded him by nearly three decades -- is that those who think for a living may sharpen their brains upon it, the way a knife is sharpened on a whetstone.

It is true that a loss of advertising revenue has contributed to the Courant’s loss of income. As business goes, so go the papers that depend upon advertising revenue to purchase their labor. It is also true that the technological grim reaper has diminished newspaper staffs.

But none of this helps to answer the question: What will life in Connecticut be like when the much diminished Courant succumbs to its fate and, no longer a recognizable paper, becomes a useless piece of publication furniture without a back or a leg or a seat -- or worse, a glorified blog?

It will be a sadder world, somewhat like a state with but one unappeasable and unapproachable political party.
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