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PLEASE COME TO SUFFOLK! We’re off on a mission of national import, hosting a Hotline affair:
TUESDAY, JULY 27, 2004

PLEASE COME TO SUFFOLK: We’re off on a mission of some national importance—well, we’ll be hosting the Hotline Comedy Show tonight in Boston (C. Walsh Theater, Suffolk University). For that reason, there will be no DAILY HOWLER until Thursday.

Before leaving, we had hoped to compare our reading of Clinton’s My Life to Michiko Kakutani’s front-page Times review. But alas—we ran out of time. We soon will turn to the topic.

Final observation before leaving: We saw David Gregory on Hardball last night saying that Kerry had picked—what else?—the fourth most liberal senator for VP. How easy it is—how easy it is—to recite such well-scripted spin-points! Over the course of a six-year career, Edwards actually ranks twenty-fourth most liberal among U.S. senators, right smack in the middle among Democrats. According to the National Journal, in Edwards’ first four years in the Senate (1999-2002), he ranked 31st, 19th, 35th and 40th most liberal among the hundred senators. (We’ll give you full data on our return.) But there was Gregory—perfumed, overpaid—peddling that pleasing RNC pap. As Jon Stewart told the nation last week, it’s so easy to recite pleasing scripts!

THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS, CONTINUED: Several readers sent e-mails like this one about Daniel Okrent’s Sunday piece (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/26/04):

E-MAIL: Interesting piece on Dan Okrent. After going through his article in the Times, you're absolutely correct that he offered nothing but lightweight “analysis” to support his thesis. To be fair, he may have something that comes close to resembling a point about the Op-Ed page, but then again, it’s hard for me to label the likes of Maureen Dowd and Nick Kristof “liberal.”
Readers, always try to be careful before being fair! Okrent didn’t say that Dowd and Kristof (and other columnists) were liberal. Here’s what he actually said:
OKRENT: [T]he Op-Ed page editors do an evenhanded job of representing a range of views in the essays from outsiders they publish—but you need an awfully heavy counterweight to balance a page that also bears the work of seven opinionated columnists, only two of whom could be classified as conservative (and, even then, of the conservative subspecies that supports legalization of gay unions and, in the case of William Safire, opposes some central provisions of the Patriot Act).
Again, Okrent never misses a chance to obsess about gay marriage. But note what he has actually said here. According to Okrent, the Times op-ed page tends hard toward imbalance because, out of seven regular columnists, it only includes two conservatives. He doesn’t define the five other scribes. But alas! Two out of seven—29 percent—is close to the percentage of Americans who self-identify as conservative. (Numbers vary according to polls.) Is the Magnificent Seven unbalanced? That would be a point worth discussing. But as with almost every part of Okrent’s lightweight piece, he makes no real effort to do so.