After decades of covering New Jersey for the Star-Ledger, Bob Braun retired last year and started his own blog. Now off the chain, Braun has written a few stinging pieces about the editorials found at his former home, including a beaut that excoriated the S-L for endorsing Chris Christie in the last election.
What’s been especially interesting to watch is the reaction of the S-L’s Editorial Page Editor, Tom Moran, who has left comments at Braun’s blog before, defending himself against perceived “personal insults.”
(Full disclosure: I think it’s fair to say that Braun’s world-view often matches our here at BJ. And I have had more than my fair share of run-ins with Moran, both here and at my blog.)
Well, yesterday Braun published another piece taking on one of Moran’s editorials; this time about education “reform” in Newark:
Once again, The Star-Ledger has the audacity to tell the people of Newark how they should lead their lives while remaining silent about how the rest of the state lives has helped create the problems in Newark. Another typical example of “us” vs. “them” in what should be a unified discourse.
What the newspaper calls “sensible and bold reforms” amount to the elimination of neighborhood schools in much of the city, a transfer of assets to corporate-backed charters, and the destruction of much of the city’s history and culture-Weequahic High, one of New Jersey’s most historic high schools, should be on the National Registry, not on the auction block, nor on the table for a “redesign” that will close it.
Perhaps no one has looked outside the window there recently but, yes, there are neighborhoods in Newark and they are filled with people, struggling men and women, parents and grandparents, who want the best for their children, including safe places to live. This was the same mistake-with disastrous consequences-that led the newspaper to campaign for the destruction of much of the Central Ward for the construction of the medical school. Much of that land remains a prairie today.
Those who criticize the plan are “shrill” and they “shriek”-how is that for subtly racist comments? Not unlike calling ambitious women “pushy.” The editorial called critics “demagogic,” but the people I saw speak out last week were elected officials-members of the elected school board, members of the city council, a member and the speaker of the New Jersey Assembly, a senator who chairs the Joint Committee on Public Schools.
After that rebuke, Moran decided enough was enough:
Throwing out the charge of racism here is a lazy and cheap substitute for an argument.
Audacity to tell Newark people how to live their lives? This is because I offer my opinion on local school reform? And you’re saying I don’t offer similar opinions in the rest of the state, I guess because I’m ok with anything white people do??? Do you even read the damn paper?
Let me clear something up: I regard you are shrill and irrational, and this charge of racism is Exhibit A… And you’re a white guy. So I guess my judgment is not all based on race.
As for the issue, to say Newark shouldn’t close schools is not rational. It has half the number of students in almost the same space it had a generation ago. What the hell sense does that make?
And what is this nonsense about corporate raiders making profit? I mean, get over Woodstock. These are non profits. The idea that hedge fund guys who donate money to the charter movement are somehow tapping public funds for their profit is sophomoric crap. I challenge you: Point to the hedge fund guy who is getting rich off Jersey’s charter movement. If you can’t do that, then please give it a rest.
I could go on. But let’s just say we have a legitimate difference of opinion about school reform. For you to throw around cheap shots about racism is beneath even you.
And with that, I sign off on this blog. Have had enough of your bloviation for a lifetime, and now you’ve crossed a line. Good riddance.
Look, you can agree or disagree with Braun’s content or his tone: personally, I think he’s dead on about the One Newark plan, the Star-Ledger’s opining, and the racially tone-deaf characterization of duly-elected critics like Ras Baraka and Antoinette Richardson-Baskerville as “shrieking.”
But have you ever seen the chief editorialist of a newspaper take a fight as public as Moran does here? Braun’s retired; Moran’s not. He’s not speaking just for himself, he’s speaking for the S-L.
Would Andrew Rosenthal of the NY Times ever think this was a good idea? Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post? For that matter, Al Doblin of The Record?
Maybe, in a blogger-filled media sphere, everything’s now out in the open. OK, fine… but let’s then stop pretending the op-ed pages occupy some sanctified space in our discourse, far above us dirty hippies who labor solely on the net.
At least as far as the Star-Ledger is concerned.