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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lister quits the O

Former Portland City Council candidate Dave Lister informed his friends today that he's decided to stop publishing opinion columns in the O. The decision came after the paper pulled one of his columns and made a noisy retraction concerning Lister's comments about current council candidate Mary Nolan's giant campaign warchest. Lister named a bunch of big-money supporters of Nolan's, and the column implied that they had contributed to her current council candidacy. In fact, some of them had contributed to older campaigns, when Nolan was running for the legislature. The O made a big show of trashing the column, and Lister with it.

Then Willy Week, which will almost certainly endorse Nolan and has never missed an opportunity to goof on the O, played the retraction as a news story, no doubt making Lister's face a little redder.

It was an easy error to make, if indeed it was an error on Lister's part. The Secretary of State's website lists contributions by individual candidates, regardless of which public office they're currently running for. Unless one knows the exact date on which the politician announced for a new gig, it's hard to tell who was trying to bribe them in their old job from who was trying to bribe them in their new job. In Nolan's case, the lines are even more blurred, because she was running for City Council while the legislature was in session. If someone wanted to buy influence from Nolan in the most recent legislative session, a contribution to her City Council campaign might have been a way to try it.

In any event, it's too bad for the O that Lister has left their building. But we can't say that we blame him. We submitted a few opinion pieces to that paper years ago. Only one got published, and the editors screwed it up. They added no value -- in fact, they subtracted. That was the end for us.

And nowadays, quite frankly, who needs them? You can reach thousands of people in Portland every day on a blog. You get to say whatever you want, without passing it through the Newhouse filter and dealing with the bureaucracy over there. Lister's writing would be welcome on this site any time.

In this case, the O editors, so busy touting their inane "PolitiFact" expertise, didn't bother to fact-check what Lister wrote -- they have no staff left to do that sort of thing -- and then when somebody noticed an inaccurate suggestion on Lister's part, they went nuclear and pulled the whole piece. Probably Nolan complained, in her inimitable sweetheart voice, and the editors treated Lister poorly. They'll miss him more than he misses them.

Comments (27)

"Lister's writing would be welcome on this site any time."

Glad to hear it, as he knows enough about Portland to cause them* some damage, and is a diverse enough opinion to provide some variety (versus the ecochamber).

And yes, they will miss him more than he will miss them. But the small minority of readers who are still paying to read the O will probably appreciate his absence, since they obviously like what they are being spoon fed and don't want any real substance in their information diet.

* Goldy-folks, Ptown politicos, West Hill crowd, etc

I still get the O from habit. It goes good with my morning coffee. The comics and some columns are the only thing I like. I have seen most of the stories already and they add very little.
Pulling Doonesbury and now Lister means I am going to have to argue with the wife about keeping it.

The current staff would probably fact check if they knew how.

Lister was one of the few reasons I ever pick up a copy at all.

The "O" probably counts on putting 6 unpaid cut and paste interns into Lister's old office and none of THEM even needs a parking space.

It's seems to be the "O"s new business model...ok, maybe NOT so new.

Never liked Lister's opinions. However, I still get the daily paper, and it's getting so ridiculously 'thin' I wonder if they're going to try to sell a 3 page papers. Other than the adverts, the AP articles (one day late) the Metro section which is about as pathetic as can be as far as journalist, all that's left is the obits.

Mr. Lister's columns were poorly researched and written. I would cringe when reading it at times and wonder aloud about how such articles could be published. Lets hope the O will publish future articles that are researched and thought provoking. With the O that is asking a lot.

The endless search for good band names goes on and I like the one in this post: Ladies and gentlemen, the Newhouse Filters.

And speaking of the column, I'm encouraged that the editors at the Oregonian pulled it. After what we went through with the call girl, pulling it is a step in the right direction.

You talking about the Secret Servicers? I couldn't believe they got jerked out of Colombia over prostitution; they're all about protection. Man, try practicing safe sex in a third world country, and you end up in an argument over a $47 tab because you over-charged for the condom.

It's funny that some would criticize Lister's columns as poorly researched and written.. But will continue to lap up the drivel that is left in the Big O...

Shows you the quality of Nolan's friends - Fritz is doomed along with CoP taxpayers.

Really can we call it a newspaper anymore? I prefer the term "Oregonian web blog" or "the blog known as the Oregonian." Without much staff, it's generally a solo act over there anyway.

I guess my point is that spending millions on newsprint and ink just doesn't matter much anymore (much to the shagrin of MSM and newsblogs everywhere) and doesn't enhance credibility.

I would be very pleased to see Dave Lister's columns on this blog. Please consider this!

Steve -

Not only are Mary's friends "interesting", the Gardol Shield wrapped around Nolan is amazing.

At a candidate night last week I asked Nolan, and Fritz, and Altizer to release their tax returns for the last 4 years.

It seems to be de regure for Presidential and Mayoral candidates, and it should be good enough for City Council candidates, as well.

Nolan's especially, should be fascinating, as a look into the investment machinations of Mark Gardner, her husband, and fashionable developer around town.

The moderator ruled my questions to the three as out of order and excused the candidates from replying.

Why the remnants of print media (Whoregonian, Tribune, Willy Week) haven't followed up on tax returns is sad.

An excellent question you posed to the candidates Nonny, a pity the moderator ruled it out of bounds.
Given the sums of the people's money the winner will have at their disposal knowing the sources of their and their SO monies is reasonable.

Why bother with a democracy. Let's just kill off any sense that we actually have a choice in the matter. The O is going to pick whoever "has the most experience" with the status quo, pick them, the voters will rubberstamp the election, and we'll have the same crappy government. Let's just save the time and hassle.

It works great for TriMet. Why not extend that form of governance to the rest of the region. We get one vote for Governor and that's it. Everyone else is appointed by The Oregonian.

I may not always agree with Dave Lister, but he is entitled to his opinions, and he genuinely cares about Portland and the state of Oregon in general. He is not one of those people who care only about how much money they will get by pandering to the "powers that be".
A "loyal opposition" is essential in a true (Thomas) Jeffersonsonian democracy and it is currently sorely lacking at all levels of government.
A few more people like Dave Lister would strengthen and encourage good government in Portland, Oregon and every place else!

The moderator ruled my questions to the three as out of order and excused the candidates from replying.

Oh yes, what would they do without the moderators? They count on people being polite and yet despite that most people are reasonable, people are prevented from straying from the agenda, no real discussion or questions about important matters allowed. The tight control on the people is disgusting.

Portland Native

Couldn't agree more. A big reason this city is a mess is there is a one party rule, and more and more it's the fringe of that party. Dissent is shouted down, and the dissenters are demonized. Not a good mix.

"as a look into the investment machinations of Mark Gardner, her husband, and fashionable developer around town."

I forgot about Gardiner. His initial development project was blowing in Vera's ear for #35M at PGE Park and then having the minor league deal collapse in a year.

Not that Shiprack at Mult County is any better at development.

Part of publishing guest opinions in any newspaper is fact checking. It's the most important step, followed by editing the writing itself to make it flow.

Then you publish it.

The Oregonian, apparently, forgot no. 1. You can argue that Lister should have double checked himself, which he should have, but that's why God made editors and allows them to get paid for it.

Tax returns for sitting council members would be good too.

Remember Opie Sten quit when we started questioning how he qualified for a $1 million mortgage (requires a $500K+ income) to buy his West Hills home. That question was never answered...

I can suggest why the Big O didn't bother to fact check, not doing so makes Lister look foolish and lets the progressives attack his points.

That's a reach. Look, I was a columnist and you have to be able to stand up and say, "I messed this up." Period.
Trying to turn Dave Lister into a victim in this is ridiculous.

I'll even go further with it: If this was really his decision to make, then I think he should have hung in there - providing the whole thing wasn't a burnout and he was ready to quit anyway.

I just hope it wasn't a pride thing, because that means this incident chased him out of the pages of the newspaper. When I was a columnist for the Tribune, I'd mess up but I always figured the damn thing will be in a pile in recycling in a few days anyway - so get over it.

Besides, a little public humiliation every now and then is part of the price of writing a column.

The Oregonian doesn't bother to fact check anything that appears on the editorial page. Not letters, not national columnists, not local columnists. The editorial pages are run as opinion pages, and it is the purview of the editors of those pages to decide whose work appears there, whether it is based in fact or not.

I waged a small campaign a few years back beating on the editorial page staff to do at least some small amount of fact checking before they published pieces, but was told time and again that it wasn't their job.

providing the whole thing wasn't a burnout and he was ready to quit anyway.

I think there were also some other things going on. The editorial page over there is likely in a bit of turmoil after Bob Caldwell's messy departure.

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