Just when you think a Washington institution has hit rock bottom, the bottom drops out. No, we're not talking about the woeful Washington Nationals. I wish we were. No, this is about the Washington Post, and it's this morning's sad tale.
Sarah Palin on the op-ed page "writing" about cap-and-trade. Or, as Palin might put it, "cap and..."
With all the talk about how newspapers are dying, can we add one more reason to the list of horribles -- suicide. The "salon" scandal still hasn't died down, not after the paper's ombudsman published his scathing critique calling the intimate dinners at publisher Katharine Weymouth's house an "ethical lapse of monumental proportions." The damage to the credibility of the paper can't be measured. How often does a publisher print a mea culpa as Weymouth did?
How does the Post regain its equilibrium? How does it recover not only from this disaster but also from the dismissal of popular blogger Dan Froomkin, whose sacking led to great protests from the readers the Post execs didn't think existed?
Why, by putting the soon-to-be ex-gov on the op-ed page, one of the prime places of real estate left in the newspaper world? Not to put too fine a point on it -- is there any sane person left over in the Post management?
The op-ed page, despite what conservatives say, is seen by progressives as a neo-con haven, sheltering talents like Jim Hoagland and conservatives like Kathleen Parker. But Palin is another case entirely. It's not simply that no one who saw her last two press conferences about her quitting Alaska for the bright lights of the Lower 48 believes she actually wrote the piece. Ghost-writing is a fine established art. Few politicians do their own writing.
It's quite another to believe that she actually knows or cares sufficiently about cap-and-trade and environmental legislation to care enough to write about it for a major newspaper. And even if she does, what possible justification on Earth is there for the Post publishing her?
The only one I can think of is to "get people talking" about the Post page. To create "buzz." Well, there's good "buzz" and bad "buzz." This is definitely the latter. It's not only that Palin has no constituency to speak of. It's not even that she has been trashed by the right, in addition to criticism by the left. She has no authority to write an article like this and the Post has no business running one.
At the least, and it's a far stretch, a global-warming denier like Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) represents a constituency -- the oil industry and the people of his state. Palin has just abandoned whatever electoral constituency she had, and now the Post is helping to establish herself in this brave new world of hers with conservative celebritydom and punditocracy.
The Lerner family, the owners of the Nationals, finally let their manager go after one too many embarrassments. It's time for the owners of the Post to wake up and to realize that having a joke of an op-ed page is no joke.
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