The Philadelphia Inquirer, a leading multiple Pulitzer Prize newspaper in the days of owner John Knight, is now so desperate to bestir its feeble circulation figures that it has added John Yoo to its op-ed contributors for a monthly column. Yoo is (sounds ungrammatical, I know) the culprit who helped write the memos authorizing torture and further noted that if the President ordered this sanitized policy it wouldn't be illegal. He remains in the cross-hairs of several investigations into his cold ruminations on lawlessness and could, at a minimum, be disbarred.
That the Inquirer would have him on its payroll now is causing some serious concern among old-school journalists who, as do I, believe that even in the interest of reporting both sides of an issue newspapers ought to hold their walk-on columnists to the same standards that it does its reporters. The New Y0rk Times , for reasons that defy logic, hired William Kristol, but later finally gave up on the slick Neocon after several embarrassing misstatements in his columns.
One doesn't have to dig deeply to understand the clubby Inquirer-Yoo synergy. The paper's publisher is Brian Tierney, a self-promoting public relations man with some top clients, including the Roman Catholic Archidiocese of Philadelphia. He's a blueblood Republican who was the elder George Bush's director of Catholic outreach and has been active in other campaigns, including those in Ohio. He became something of an assailant of the paper's previous staffers by making much of his complaints that the paper was biased against the Diocese.
Since Tierney took over the paper with promises to return it to glory, the Inquirer has continued to shrink with staff cutbacks and other cost-saving devices. It is now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Dave Hess, a former colleague and Knight-Ridder White House and Capitol Hill reporter, says he's not a bit surprised that the paper has fallen into misery under Tierney. Noting that Tierney has a "longstanding reputation as a Republican activist," while moving the paper farther to the right, "he's lived up to his credentials while dismantling the staff and reputation of what was once one of the five leading newspapers in the nation." (Among the beneficiaries of Tierney's generosity is former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who reportedly is paid $1,750 for a single column by a bankrupt newspaper! One of the reasons that Santorum was knocked out of office is that voters couldn't find a hint of coherence in much of what he said.)
So if you connect the dots, you'll find a political blood line connecting Tierney and Yoo that will allow Yoo to rant in his first column Sunday against Barack Obama as the "great empathizer"in selecting a Supreme Court Justice. He insisted there would not be anything "more damaging" to the rule of law, ignoring, of course, that torture was instituted by his fake rule of law.
Back to Tierney: As a marketing stunt, he once wrapped a giant hoagie around City hall to promote some food markets. But that hardly measures up to his decision to wrap his arms around Yoo, a man whose name comes up when rational constitutional lawyers talk about war crimes.