In response to several recent controversial and occasionally nonsensical editorials and columns — remember the editorial “Reason as racism: An immigration debate gets derailed” or “Caitlyn Jenner is still a mister”? — at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, there’s a new sheriff in town overseeing the paper’s editorial pages.
Unfortunately, for the P-G’s readers and staffers, it’s a hire that’s more akin to Sheriff Joe Arpaio than Bat Masterson. Block Communications, the parent company of the P-G and the Toledo Blade, announced last week that the Blade’s editorial-page editor, Keith Burris, would become editorial director of both papers. Burris, for those who haven’t yet heard, is the one who wrote the aforementioned editorial on race that defended President Trump’s use of the word “shitholes” to describe third-world nations.
Burris even defended the editorial in a subsequent Blade column called “The left’s war on thought.” To sum up, it was yet another treatise on race from an old white guy, who blames political correctness as the reason that racists are now being called out more frequently. It apparently has nothing to do with their actual racist behaviors. Burris wrote that he was attacked for the comments about his editorial as “thinking outside the box, about matters of identity conviction, elevated to an almost theocratic level? … You get called a racist yourself.”
I would weep for Burris’ persecution, but unfortunately, I’m already crying at the thought of his direct influence of the P-G’s editorial pages, instead of having to at least push his asinine “thinking” through the publisher, John Block. Burris’ influence will now be front and center for readers to see every day. P-G staffers were up in arms after the “race as reason” catastrophe; they can’t be any happier about this. In fact, some of them, as well members of the general public, are already dissenting on social media.
I have no idea why Block Communications decided to make this move now. There was a slim hope that it learned from the outcry over the race editorial, but instead of showing understanding, it’s going out of its way to spit in the public’s eye. If this situation were a game of blackjack, for example, it’s like the Blocks were dealt a 20 and decided to hit. It makes no sense and makes you a guaranteed loser.
The recent editorial stance of the Post-Gazette has turned off many of its loyal readers. The paper’s news-gathering organization is as good as it ever was. The problem is, people are getting turned off, not just by the paper’s opinions but by the smug, tone-deaf way it’s being shoved in their faces. Putting Keith Burris in charge is only adding fuel to the fire.