The Seattle Times Editorial Board: the City’s Most Widely Read Right-Wing Blog

So I have it on good authority that the Seattle Times’ demonstrably false unsigned “Death Tax” editorial was penned by editorial columnist Erik Smith. Figures. That’s exactly the sort of corporatist shilling for which he was clearly hired.

I know Smith from his several years blogging for the business-backed Washington Wire, where he covered Olympia with an undeniably pro-business/pro-Republican slant. That was his job and he was okay at it, I guess. But I never paid much attention to Washington Wire because it never had much audience or influence.

Still, let’s clear away the pretense: this is what the Seattle Times hired when they put Smith on their editorial board—a conservative blogger. And that is exactly what they got.

Indeed, if anything, Smith has behaved more like a righty blogger since being elevated to the editorial board than he ever did at Washington Wire, where he always seemed defensive about his business backing. At Washington Wire, Smith stuck to a more reportorial voice, and at least went through the journalistic motions. At the Seattle Times he’s lapsed into fact-free bloviating, relying on the credibility inherent in writing under a major newspaper banner to make up for the lack of effort he’s displayed to actually, you know, get stuff right. And his “Death Tax” editorial celebrates a new low.

The McBrides had long ceased to operate a “working farm,” and the value of Ralph McBride’s property was far too small to be subject to either the state or federal estate taxes. Perhaps you could just chalk those errors off to mere laziness. But the following is intentionally misleading:

Washington state’s tax is especially punitive. The rate of up to 20 percent is the highest in the country — on top of a federal rate of 40 percent. The typical state exemption for the first $2 million of estate value is hardly enough for a farm or prosperous business, despite reforms by the 2013 Legislature.

I mean, how do you write this statement without acknowledging that working farms are entirely exempt from Washington’s estate tax, and still take pride in your work? I know I couldn’t.

If I have a chip on my shoulder it comes from years of being lazily dismissed by “real” journalists like Smith and his editorial page editor Kate Riley as just a foul-mouthed liberal blogger who can’t be taken seriously. But the truth is, I do exactly what the Seattle Times editorial board does, except I do it from the left, I do it better, and I do it honestly. And, unlike the Seattle Times editors, I have the goddamn self-respect and pride of work to sign my name.

Comments

  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Of course, “real” journalists are merely people who work for people who own $150 million printing plants decrepit early-20th-centur buildings on prime downtown real estate.

    I’m not, of course, talking about “real journalists,” which is something different from “real” journalists. Pop Rabbit was a real journalist, and a damned good one, in fact he’s now legendary in his old precincts (now that he’s dead, sniffle).

    Real journalists have always had to labor under the thumbs of the opinionated rich white guys who have always owned America’s newspapers. Now they have the added burden of laboring for desperate rich white male owners whose ships are financially sinking.

    That is, if any real journalists are left. Looking at the shit-for-brains now coming out of our journalism schools, I can’t help wondering what happened to the schools. The old-time ink-stained editors would would fire copy editors for using a comma instead of a semicolon or getting “affect” and “effect” mixed up must have all died off. Today, journalism is populated by illiterates.

  2. 2

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Of course, “real” journalists are merely people who work for people who own $150 million printing plants and decrepit early-20th-century buildings on prime downtown real estate.

    I’m not, of course, talking about “real journalists,” which is something entirely different from “real” journalists. Pop Rabbit was a real journalist, and a damned good one, in fact he’s now legendary in his old precincts (now that he’s dead, sniffle).

    Real journalists have always had to labor under the thumbs of the opinionated (and invariably rightwing) rich white guys who own America’s newspapers. Now they have the added burden of laboring for desperate troglodytes whose financial ships are taking water and in great danger of sinking.

    That is, if any real journalists are left. Looking at the shit-for-brains now coming out of our journalism schools, I can’t help wondering what happened to those schools. The old-time ink-stained editors who would fire copyeditors for using a comma instead of a semicolon or getting “affect” and “effect” mixed up must have all died off. Today, journalism is populated by illiterates who don’t read classics, can’t spell, and don’t know how to think.

    Having stripped their newsrooms of staff, many newspapers are little more than Little Nickels now. For want of news content to read, their readership is drifting away, mostly to the internet where news coverage is more extensive and more timely.

    So, characterizing the Seattle Times as a “blog” isn’t entirely unfair. There’s relatively little of the journalistic Seattle Times left, although the troglodyte who runs the place somehow finds a budget to employ 6 full-time editorial writers (not counting himself, his son, and two other Blethen relatives whose names appear on the editorial page masthead). Maybe he should redirect some of those resources to his skeletonized newsroom staff. How many people does it take to write one or two editorials a day? I usually manage about 10 to 20 on this blog, and I don’t even get paid.

    The distinction between “newspaper editorial” and “blogging” is blurring in other ways. Blogs used to be pure fact-free opinion whereas most people expected newspaper editorials to go through a research, fact-checking, and logic-checking process before someone spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on paper, ink, and delivery trucks and drivers getting it out to the street. But (some) blogs (including this one) are becoming more journalistic, while many newspapers (including ST) are becoming more bloviastic. If this continues, at some point newspapers will become blogs and blogs will become newspapers.

    Here in Seattle, we seem to be well on the way.

  3. 5

    spews:

    @3 Stupid typo. But unlike the Seattle Times editorial board, at least I acknowledge my errors and correct them.

  4. 6

    Dave spews:

    Give it up, Goldy.

    Like Kate Riley tweeted,

    They “doublechecked with” their sources [Read: “We asked Seattle Times staff reporter Erin Heffernan to confirm whether the McBrides did, in fact, say the things that she reported they said”]

    They “stand by” their “work” [Duh].

    They “always correct mistakes” [that they disagree with], and

    “There is no mistake here” [Read: They intended to lie and mislead].

    I don’t see how you can say–qualifiers aside–that you “do exactly what the Seattle Times editorial board does”. That’s like saying that you intentionally lie and mislead–but you do so honestly. That makes no sense whatsoever.

    You write a biased liberal blog from the perspective of a progressive social reformer. The Seattle Times editorial board engages lies, deception and propaganda. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Goldy, but you’re no Seattle Times editorial board.