October 02, 2004


After having finished re-reading The Fountainhead, this story -- a newspaper editor going against public opinion -- made me chuckle. I had to register to read it, so now you don't have to.

Crawford wants newspaper to eat its words

Rebeca Rodriguez
San Antonio Express-News

CRAWFORD — Photos of President Bush hugging diners and mugging for the camera adorn the walls of the Crawford Coffee Station, a popular cafe in this small Central Texas town Bush calls home.

Just a few miles from the Bush ranch, the spot is a popular place for locals to gather in the morning for coffee, breakfast and a glance at the day's news.

But the rack that once held the Lone Star Iconoclast — Crawford's weekly newspaper — now is empty, thanks to a blistering indictment in Tuesday's paper of Bush's presidential record and a call to elect Democrat John Kerry in November.

For a town drenched in Bush, the editorial is practically political heresy.

"Not only is he the president of the United States, he's my neighbor, he's my customer," Coffee Station owner Nick Spanos said. "We're not carrying that paper after today."

The firestorm began Tuesday morning, when readers opened up the newspaper to Page 2 and found an entire half-page criticizing the president for a variety of failings, and calling for the election of Kerry.

By the afternoon, news of the editorial was burning up Internet blogs and e-mail boxes all over the country.

Iconoclast publisher W. Leon Smith, who co-wrote the editorial with two other writers, is unapologetic.

"We're just trying to point out the direction the country's going in, and it's not good," he said.

Smith is majority owner of the Iconoclast, the Record of nearby Clifton and the Bosque Globe. He's also the mayor of Clifton and a Democrat who was defeated twice in campaigns for the Texas House of Representatives.

Now, Smith has become an iconoclast in his own right, challenging the widely declared belief that Crawford and its environs are "Bush Country."


As of Wednesday morning, more than a dozen readers had canceled their subscription and six advertisers had pulled their spots from the paper.

Smith expects there will be more, and he's preparing for the worst.

"It will probably put us under," he said.

Smith's desk at the Record offices is piled with paper, and his cubicle is filled with Mickey Mouse paraphernalia — two clocks, posters and even his computer screensaver.

He pulled up his computer e-mail inbox, filled with messages of varying intensity.

Smith said about 75 percent of them applaud the editorial, but the remaining fourth border on vitriol.

"It really appears to be me that we no longer live in an open society," he said. "When you get to the point where you can't express an opinion, then you're in trouble."

I really hate when people pull the "police state" b.s. when their opinion is unpopular. You can write whatever you want in your newspaper, dude. People don't have to pay to read it if they don't like it though. That's not crushing dissent; that's the textbook definition of an "open society". In an open society, people disagree. And they vote with their wallet. If you "go under" because of this editorial, then you need to reevaluate your priorities. Either you give the people what they want in Crawford and make money, or you stand up for your principles and "go under" if that's in the cards. But don't complain that American society is in danger because people don't want to give you money to stand on your soapbox and say things they disagree with.

Long live capitalism!

(thanks to Dagney's Rant for the heads up...and the continued Ayn Rand connection)

Posted by Sarah at October 2, 2004 09:27 AM

You go girl!


Posted by: Kalroy at October 2, 2004 11:35 AM

>"It really appears to be me that we no longer
>live in an open society," he said. "When you get
>to the point where you can't express an opinion,
>then you're in trouble."

I suppose Mr. Big-time Newspaper Editor thinks it's unfortunate that the "local yokels" also get to express THEIR opinions. Elitists... faugh!

Posted by: CavalierX at October 2, 2004 06:09 PM

It is one thing if consumers, decide not to purchase a product of their own volition (as appears the case with individual customers of the newspaper). To decide to not carry this paper, when part of your business is selling news papers smacks of organized censorship. If the proprietor of the shop had waited until he had of a couple of days of unsold papers then I have no problem. It appears though that he decided to not carry the paper the moment he finished the editorial. Small minded fool is what he seems to be to me. That is just my opinion, I could be wrong

Posted by: Bubba Bo Bob Brain at October 3, 2004 02:58 AM

Suppose I'm a Kerry supporter. Then suppose that some paper runs an offensive anti-Kerry cartoon (you can imagine the details yourself). What if I refuse to sell the paper anymore? Is that "censorship"? How is the decision of an *individual* "organized censorship"? It's not as if I (or the actual person in the real-life example above) were part of a nationwide organized movement to stop selling papers that offend us. And even if I were part of an organized movement, so what? Are we *obligated* to sell anti-Kerry propaganda?

Posted by: Amritas at October 3, 2004 12:33 PM

Amritas, you may not have read/understood what I wrote completely. I did say I have no problem if you wait for a couple days papers to pile up before dropping it from your store. To do so immediately after reading an editorial you don't like is akin to organizing a censorship drive. Just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Posted by: Bubba Bo Bob Brain at October 3, 2004 03:49 PM