I’ve been doing something of a small experiment in recent weeks on the Star’s editorial pages (aka the opinion pages).
From time to time we look at our lineup of syndicated columnists and cartoonists and consider if it’s time for a change.
We strive for a mix of viewpoints, subjects, writers and tone — something you might agree with, something you might not, something that expands your knowledge.
So, we tried out Rich Lowry, a conservative writer who is editor of National Review, and asked for your feedback.
You responded. I received 186 emails over two weeks about Lowry’s columns.
So last Sunday, we asked for your thoughts on one of our longtime syndicated columnists, Leonard Pitts Jr. — not because we’re thinking of dropping him, but because I wanted to compare the kind of comments we received about Lowry to comments about one of our most popular (and most reviled) columnists.
As of Tuesday afternoon, when I’m writing this, I’d received 93 emails and three voicemails about Pitts. Based on this unscientific research, I can say with confidence that, unsurprisingly, conservatives liked Lowry and liberals liked Pitts. Conservatives despised Pitts, and liberals had no love lost for Lowry.
The comments were strikingly similar:
- He’s a sane, common-sense writer in an insane world. (Pitts)
- He appears to be one of the journalists with common sense these days. He is a breath of fresh air in a toxic, partisan country. (Lowry)
- Yes, please publish more of his articles. We thought it was informative, fairly balanced and most importantly, not bombastic. (Lowry)
- There was nothing new or unique in his column or in his writing style and he gets some of his “facts” wrong. The words bland, pablum, boring, plain, ordinary all come to mind when I think of words that describe the two columns of his I read. (Lowry)
- YES! It’s the first (column) that had even a hint of a conservative point of view! We need more of Rich Lowry.
- Mr. Lowry’s columns are characteristic of political propaganda, relying upon emotionally charged statements in order to discredit widely known facts. Mr. Lowry is too ignorant and too partisan to be a regular Star contributor.
- I’m a lifelong republican who did not vote for Trump. I find Lowry to be a moderate-conservative voice of reason.
- His is a voice that speaks truth to power in strong yet respectful ways. He reminds us that America is more about ideals than idiots. (Pitts)
- Count me as one who completely finds Mr. Pitts’ opinion offensive, racist, divisive and too radical! Waste of space! I’ve tried to make sense of his opinions but have long ago stopped reading his ridiculous rantings about race, mostly! We need balanced opinions that can mend our country’s fabric, not alienate, through meaningful thoughts that do not pit the masses against each other.
- Leonard Pitts tells the truth, and white folks like me need to hear it and think about the subtle racism that flows through our daily lives. I say this as a registered Republican.
- Leonard Pitts is one of the few writers who have changed my mind on an issue.
- I find Pitts’ comments to be insulting and anti-American. He is so far left in his thinking as to be irretrievable, but unfortunately he is merely one of many far-left-wing columnists that your paper persists in displaying in your op-ed pages. So, the fewer of his ilk, the better for your paper, and for the country.
- Please keep Leonard Pitts’ column. I seldom agree with his point of view, but that is exactly the point. I need to hear from people who have different backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints.
- While I disagree with Lowry on almost every issue, I find that I learn something from his opinion pieces.
Thank you for all of your responses. Our plan is to publish Lowry and Pitts on Sundays, as available. Lowry will replace Cal Thomas in our regular lineup, which brings into balance our roster of conservative and liberal syndicated columnists. We choose columns daily, so it’s not always one-for-one, but our goal is to provide viewpoints from across the spectrum.
The best response from this mini experiment? One that I think should be our editorial-page motto:
“Diversity of thought is critical for a democracy.”
Now that’s an opinion we should all get behind.