Editor set the tone for Bush bashing

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 30, 2005

Editor, the News-Herald:

Last week, after seeing an editorial cartoon in the News-Herald that was both blasphemous to God and viciously demeaning to President Bush on the day of his inauguration (known as a &uot;twofer&uot; at CBS), I went ballistic and lit into the paper’s editor, Andy Prutsok, who has, in the past written many an editorial critical of the president. As so often happens when one goes off half-cocked, my aim did not hit the target of my ire. In email with Mr. Prutsok, I learned that Mr. Prutsok, while editor, was not even in town when that cartoon was placed in the paper. As he explained in his article on Sunday, he was in Alabama, and so did not even know for what he was being excoriated.

I accused Mr. Prutsok of something he did not do, and it is with sincere regret for this that I apologize to him for doing so.

Email newsletter signup

Mr. Prutsok went on to tell me a little of the procedures at the paper, that the News-Herald subscripts to an art service that provides two to three cartoons a day for the newspaper to use; he tells me that he believes that the person composing the editorial page for that day probably just chose one that was available for that day, without even looking at the content.

And while I do apologize to Mr. Prutsok for accusing him of something for which he did not do, here is where I think that he is wrong and probably does bear some responsibility for what occurred. I find it completely incredulous to think that the person composing the editorial page for Jan. 20th didn’t bother to look at the content of the cartoon that was chosen for that day. Yes, things can get hectic in a newspaper office, and, yes, computers make composition a matter of just ‘pointing and clicking.’ But to believe that someone placed in charge of an editorial page and given responsibility in Mr. Prutsok’s absence would blithely just click on an available cartoon without even reading it doesn’t ring true. It doesn’t even make sense that someone who believes him- or herself to be a journalist would be so cavalier toward their responsibility, to either the News-Herald or to Mr. Prutsok.

More likely, the culprit for this journalistic crime is the climate of the newsroom of the News-Herald. As both editor and publisher, Mr. Prutsok has made his dislike for the president well-known. Mr. Prutsok allowed the execrable Mr. Norman to run a piece of journalistic tripe that posed as a review of Michael Moore’s Farenheit 911 because he shared his animus for the president. There is a dislike for President Bush that is palpable in the offices of the News-Herald.

The person who composed the editorial page for Jan. 20th, knowing the animus that Mr. Prutsok holds toward the president, and quite possibly shares this dislike, probably did read the cartoons that the art service provided for the day, and knowing the pervading attitude toward the president in the Herald’s newsroom, chose one that was representative of the feeling of the staff. It just doen’st even make sense that one would put something like an editorial cartoon in a paper without looking at it. (After all, it isn’t as hard to comprehend the contents of an editorial cartoon as it is to stomach some of Howard Dean’s meanderings.)

While Mr. Prutsok does not bear the responsibility for the maledictory cartoons that maligned President Bush’s intelligence on the day of his inauguration and the day after, he does bear responsibility for creating a climate that feels that disparaging the president is just &uot;good-natured ribbing,&uot; to use his words. It seems that while New York has Dan Rather, Suffolk has the News-Herald.

Chuck Fisher