Humor those of us who don't share your political views

Question: Thank you for your thoughtful reply to my question, "Why do you exclude stories of progress in Iraq from your daily news coverage?" I believe your response reveals a deep seated bias against the Iraq war and the Bush administration. In defending your coverage, you state, "I think the real issue is trying to separate the truth of events on the ground from political spin." It seems that positive news about progress in Iraq is viewed by you as "political spin" by the Bush administration, while any negative news of more casualties or setbacks is "news" or "the truth of events."

Why don't you at least humor those of us who don't share your policital views with a "News Trashbin" section every Saturday? Your lead-in for the section could say something like this: "The articles appearing below are pieces from newswires and other sources during the past week which we don't like due to their political spin or viewpoint, bias, lack of political correctness, tendency to make Republicans look good, authors we don't like, or use of words we don't understand. These articles are printed here for your entertainment only, and to placate those who don't like our natural editorial biases. WE TOTALLY DISAPPROVE OF THESE ARTICLES (This page as been treated with an environmentally friendly waterproof coating for use as the liner of kitty litter boxes and bird cages.) The Editor." -- Scott Schmidtman, Spokane

Answer: The writer and I will have to agree to disagree. I was struck today by the remarks of Don Wycliff, ombudsman for The Chicago Tribune, responding to a similar complaint from a Tribune reader. This is what Wycliff said:

"The fact is that the people demanding more 'good news' from Iraq are themselves pursuing a political agenda and attempting to draft the news media into the effort. They want to shift the focus from safety and security in a still-unstable Iraq to sewers and streetlights. (Not unlike shifting the focus from non-existent weapons of mass destruction to 'weapons of mass destruction-related program activities.')

"The United States has 120,000-plus members of its armed forces in Iraq. They are being shot at, road-bombed, truck-bombed, mortared and otherwise attacked not because they're trying to build schools, generate electricity and fix sewer lines, but because they are American soldiers.

"The Tribune--and most of the rest of the American news media, I suspect--continue to focus on safety and security issues because the lives and safety of our fellow citizens in uniform are most Americans' first concern."

I couldn't agree more. Thanks to Mr. Wycliff for saying it so much more effectively. -- Steve Smith, editor

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