Oregonian Publisher: "I Am Not a Right-Wing Nut"

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Well, that’s a relief: Oregonian Publisher N. Christian Anderson III is not a right-wing nut. He told us so himself.

The Oregonian has been taking a lot of flak lately from its readers over its editorial rejecting Measures 66 and 67 and its publication of a couple of large “spadea” ads against the measures wrapped around the front section and constructed in such a way as to perhaps give the impression that they were part of the news section. The heat got so intense that Anderson felt obliged to try to dispel it by writing a “publisher’s note” yesterday explaining how editorial decisions are made at his paper.

“Being the publisher of The Oregonian is like being the despotic ruler of a Third World country, I learned this week,” the column begins. “If you believe our critics, I write all the editorials, permit only views with which I agree on our editorial pages, edit the paper, decide what stories go where and write all the headlines. And I'm a right-wing nut, too.

“I'm glad I don't have time for all that, because I don't want to do any of those things. As for whether I'm a right-wing nut, everyone will have his or her opinion. (I'm not, by the way.)”

Anderson goes on to say that the decision on what editorial stands to take is a collegial process involving Editorial Page Editor Bob Caldwell and his staff of associate editors. “So, if I don't dictate how the editorial positions of The Oregonian are formed, how does that happen? Through lots of conversation and give and take among Caldwell and the associate editors. Caldwell gets to have the final say, just as he did on Measures 66 and 67.”

Anderson also says he’s “pretty apolitical” and has no wish to “invoke my own worldview as the voice of The Oregonian.”

I’m not privy to the discussions that go on in The Oregonian’s editorial board meetings, but as somebody who’s been an editorial writer at a couple of big papers I know that the publisher is more than just one voice among equals. He might not choose to enforce his viewpoint most of the time, but when he does it generally prevails.

And although he says he’s apolitical, Anderson came to Portland last October after being editor and publisher of the Orange County Register in Orange County, CA, which is to right-wingers what Transylvania is to vampires.

The Register is the flagship newspaper of Freedom Newspapers, a subsidiary of Freedom Communications, which was founded by Raymond Cyrus Hoiles in 1935. As the website of Freedom Politics proudly declares, Hoiles’s libertarian philosophy “continues to animate the editorial pages and online opinion sites of Freedom's newspapers. The Orange County Register is the largest libertarian newspaper in the world, and the home base of FreedomPolitics.com.”

Coming out of that background, one can reasonably assume that Mr. Anderson’s politics could be described as right-wing. Whether that makes him a nut is up to you.

(Footnote: Dan Petegorsky of the BlueOregon blog has posted a hilarious list of 10 “alternative headlines” for Anderson’s I-Am-Not-a-Nut column. Check it out if you want a laugh.)


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