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End of an Era: "The Bulletin" stops the presses

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The Bulletin

 

A large part of me was saddened to find out The Bulletin had folded last week.

As a college senior, I received my first byline credit after scoring an internship at the then-months old paper. The story was about Samuel Maitin, a local artist who had recently passed away. His work was to be on display at the University of Pennsylvania, and I was in charge of calling his daughter for comment, then writing an article about the artist’s life, work, and the gallery.

 

The experience was priceless. At the time, The Bulletin was called The Evening Bulletin. Our publishing deadline was noon, so the morning hours were always a blur. It’s safe to say I was never bored.

 

But the paper was incredibly slanted – toward the right.

 

I’m not going to go into newsroom detail out of respect for the people who helped me at that time, but the folding of the small paper should be explored as a broader issue – how bias is effecting the dying media markets.

 

In 2007, John Zogby concluded that 97% of Republicans believe the news media has a liberal bias. The argument, for conservatives, is then made that outlets like Fox News and conservative talk radio are merely there for “balance.” When liberals cry foul about the violent, often baseless smears coming from conservative mouthpieces, conservatives say this is okay because the left has all the other media. They excuse their extreme points of view by arguing self-pity. However, even papers like The New York Times and other “liberal media” outlets feature regular Republican opinions. The opposite is rarely true of conservative outlets.

 

I think The Bulletin going out of business, and never really having much of a readership in the first place, is evidence that people just aren’t buying the Republican self-pity jargon anymore. The New York Sun, a conservative paper based in New York City, suffered the same fate last September.

 

Many of The Bulletin’s news stories read like PR pieces for the Republican Party. Articles meant to be unbiased often featured snide comments attacking caricatures of the Democratic Party (references to Jane Fonda, The Weather Underground, etc.) The Bulletin actually had an entire section of its front page devoted to Obama birth certificate “news.” Evidently, The Bulletin was vying for the same audience as the conspiracy-prone World Net Daily, a website obsessed with reporting the baseless idea that Barack Obama was born in Africa and thus, is not eligible to be president.

 

But the strangest thing about The Bulletin was its publishing of Herb Denenberg, a once well-distinguished consumer advocate, journalist, and college professor. He wrote opinion pieces and self-help columns, but his politics were leaps and bounds away from rational thought. On The Bulletin’s website right now, archived Denenberg headlines read as follows: “Obama Puts The World On Fast Track To Armageddon” and “Mainstream Media Are On The Side Of The Terrorists”. In the latter article, the following is a real quote from Denenberg: “The mainstream media and the Democratic Party, as part of its anti-Americanism, view America as the oppressor and aggressor and tends to view all those allied against America as somehow liberators and freedom fighters. This seems like utter nonsense beyond belief. I can only remind those that liberalism is a mental disorder and this perhaps is one of many manifestations of it.” Denenberg’s website describes the Philadelphia Inquirer as “pro-terrorism.”

 

Part of the reason the Republican Party is spinning counter-clockwise into America’s septic system is that Denenberg’s ideas are not far outside the mainstream of Republicanism.

 

According to conservatives in line with Denenberg, being against the war in Iraq means you want America to “lose” – because they think winning and losing are the only options. The same thing has to do with most wedge issues: If you agree with abortion rights, you are a baby killer. Any income tax rate on the wealthiest 2% of Americans greater than 36% constitutes “socialism.” Gay marriage is anti-family.

 

For a few years, that’s how many Americans thought. But it’s just not the case anymore. The mass hysteria of 2001-2004 is over. Most do not believe the played-out talking points concerning Democrats “hating America”, re-instituting the Fairness Doctrine, and surrendering to the terrorists.

 

Most people, especially in this part of the country, are past the line of thought The Bulletin published. Rush Limbaugh and other radio entertainers are thriving because they can be enjoyed while listeners are multitasking – be it working, driving, or anything else. The idea of putting effort into reading a Denenberg piece for anything other than hilarity purposes seems ridiculous to most people, and after the initial entertainment, the reader comes to the realization that a writer can only refer to the mainstream media and Democratic Party as “racist” (against white males, of course) and “fraudulent” so many times before it just gets annoying.

 

Randy LoBasso is a freelance writer and editor, living in the
Fairmount section of Philadelphia. He's been published in The New York
Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and is a
regular contributor for Origivation Magazine and Philly2Philly.com

 


Comments


2:34 PM
Sat Jun 13 2009
Bulletin article ignores the facts

Randy, your theory that The Bulletin went out of business because it was too conservative is interesting but, unfortunately, runs counter to the facts. For example, it does not explain why the New York Times – certainly not a conservative paper –lost more than half of its revenue in less than a year (and just put the Boston Globe up for sale because the union would not take an 8% pay cut). Your assertion that conservative talk radio is popular only because people have nothing better to do while driving does not explain why Fox News Television (which folks are hopefully not watching while driving) now has more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined – and the latter two continue to decline in viewership. And your implication that Americans continue to shift left in their attitudes runs counter to last April’s Pew Research Center findings that Americans have shifted over the past year to more conservative positions on both gun control and abortion. In May, Gallup confirmed that the majority of Americans for the first time now define themselves as pro-life. Finally, your notion that the Republican Party continues to tank defies the most recent CNN and Gallup polls showing Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ratings slipping below Dick Cheney’s, the latest Quinnipiac University poll predicting Democrat Chris Dodd losing to Republican challenger Rob Simmons in the 2010 senate race, and in New Jersey, the Rasmussen Reports poll predicting Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie defeating incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine. If anything, we are beginning to see a shift to the right. But that’s not the entire reason why The New York Times, CNN and MSNBC are tanking. Rather, it’s because they stopped doing their job of critically examining the power structure in Washington. Those outlets did fine when they appropriately questioned George Bush’s policies on a wide range of issues prior to the last election. That is what Americans expect a free press to do. But now, instead of critically examining the current administration, they continue to look backward to the prior administration while simply singing praises for Obama. Discerning Americans instinctively know they’re not getting the whole story and turn to the conservative media outlets as the only available source of critical journalism. And most are simply weary of the same old Bush-bashing – he’s long gone, after all. If the mainstream media outlets want to survive, they need to start doing their job of casting a watchful and critical eye on whomever is in power in Washington, Democrat or Republican.